This was a year of many firsts: a global pandemic, sheltering in place, nationwide mask mandates—with only two short months of the year under our belts, we were forced to rethink what “normal” looked like in order to curb the spread of COVID-19. Being indefinitely stuck at home has its perks (hello, sweatpants!) but plenty of downfalls as well. All jokes about dumpster fires aside, 2020 was a hard year to get through for most of us.

Luckily, all this time at home gave us ample opportunity to find ways to survive these unprecedented times. From starting new hobbies to taking it back to the basics of homesteading, here are some of the ways we managed to survive the rollercoaster that was 2020.

We Became Masters of Our Kitchens

woman in red apron rolling out dough

Prior to the pandemic, meals were often chosen in the name of convenience: what’s the fastest, easiest thing in the cupboard to cook? Which drive-thru is on the way home? Once we were stuck indoors with seemingly limitless time, nationwide trends showed a shift towards healthier, more nutrient-rich meals as we honed our skills in the kitchen.

Of course, that’s not to say we didn't enjoy our fair share of comfort food—as we all know, the best quality of a pandemic meal is its ability to pair well with a healthy-sized glass of wine. And as days got longer and less time was spent in the kitchen, we found new recipes that could be made cheaply and quickly, from Dutch baby pancakes to cucumber feta salad.

We Treated Ourselves to One (or a Few) Pandemic Purchases

onlin shopping credit card and laptop

Stay-at-home orders caused massive spikes in e-commerce sales, which is unsurprising given the many notable benefits of retail therapy. From Animal Crossing to porch swings and everything in-between, our favorite quarantine splurges helped distract us from the doom and gloom invading our daily lives.

That’s not to say these splurges held no value other than an extra dose of serotonin. Many of our purchases were in the name of self-care (because what better year to focus on treating yo’self than this year)? Weighted blankets, face masks, comfy faux-fur throws, and self-improvement books helped us take care of Number One during these crazy times.

We Kept It Cozy

woman in black pajamas in bed raising a mug

While we’re on the subject of self-care, we have to give a shout-out to the true MVPs of sheltering in place: comfy clothes. Virtual schooling and working from home threw the need for dress codes (at least for our bottom halves) out the window. So long, uncomfortable jeans! Hello, trusty, 10-year-old pair of sweats. Because if you’re going to have an existential crisis, you might as well be comfortable while you do it.

We searched the internet for the perfect quarantine cozy wear and found ultra-soft joggers, roomy sweaters, and comfy-chic shirt dresses. We’re also unashamed to say we wholeheartedly fell in line with the 2020 comeback of the house dress because the only thing better than comfy pants is no pants.

We Streamed (and Streamed, and Streamed, and Streamed...)

Netflix and person holding remote

Sheltering in place for months on end meant diving headfirst into the bottomless pit of streaming options from Netflix to Hulu to Amazon Prime and more. Millions of people (ourselves included) turned to television for entertainment in the throes of full-on pandemic boredom, and were met with no small shortage of things to watch.

We revisited some of our old primetime favorites like The Sopranos and Parks and Recreation, tried out new Netflix series that took the world by storm (looking at you, Tiger King), and revisited childhood memories with Disney+. And for the Dunder-Mifflinites of the world, we continued to rewatch The Office until we could quote every single word of the Threat Level Midnight script. (Check, please.)

We Found Our New Favorite Skin and Hair Care Products

beauty products

The pandemic did more than shake up our daily school, work, and social routines; it also seriously changed how we took care of our skin and hair. New COVID-specific woes like maskne, stress-induced acne, dehydrated skin (ahem, totally unrelated to all that wine we’ve been drinking), split ends, and grown-out roots were all unfortunate side effects of the times. But new problems mean new solutions, and we eagerly scoured the internet for remedies to these modern ailments, and we’re happy to report we found several new favorites for our skin and hair care arsenals.

Never leaving the house meant having quite a bit more wiggle room in-between wash days, and these life-changing dry shampoos helped our hair go even longer without shampoo or conditioner. We also used our extra time to revamp our anti-aging routine (because if anything was going to age us prematurely, it’s a global pandemic) with products from Murad, Alba Botanica, and more.

For those of us who prefer a no-fuss skincare routine, we turned to these incredible overnight skincare products to help moisturize, firm, and brighten our skin while we escape from the real world to dreamland. And because there are few things less flattering than the fluorescent glow of a webcam, we turned to our tried and true, must-have makeup products for an effortless, barely-there look for video conference calls.

We Finally Got Around to Reading Books Again

Asian woman reading book on yellow couch

Books have been the ultimate form of escapism for centuries, and this year, we did plenty of escaping. Finding the time to read (let alone finish) a book prior to the pandemic seemed near impossible, but lockdown offered ample time to be curled up with a good book. It’s a good thing, too—reading has been proven to strengthen the brain, improve empathy, reduce stress, and alleviate depression, all of which have become all the more crucial during the pandemic.

From murder mysteries to cookbooks to books that helped us reassess our relationship with alcohol, our favorite books helped us pass the time without staring at a screen and helped take us to different worlds unaffected by COVID-19. We were also able to stay connected with fellow bookworms even while quarantining, thanks to Amazon’s new virtual book clubs, which helped keep things interesting and fend off cabin fever.

We Got Creative When It Came to Curing Serious Cases of Boredom

construction paper cutouts hobby craft

As entertainment and recreation businesses shut down across the country, we had to look inward for cures for rampant boredom. For the single house-dweller, this might be a fairly simple task. For parents with kids? That’s a whole other story. It took a little bit of digging, but we found new ways to keep the kids occupied that didn’t involve staring at an iPad screen. Score.

We also helped keep our own minds and hands nimble by picking up hobbies, baking, and trying out new puzzles and games. We looked to the stars, we planned socially distanced summer outings, and when that didn’t work—quality doggo content usually did the trick.

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