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25 Everyday Moments We’ll Never Take for Granted Again

Number one on our list: Breathing normally.

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Strange times

At least 316 million people in at least 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are under orders to stay at home to help prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, according to the New York Times. In just a matter of days and weeks, life has changed tremendously. Now, a lot of people are thinking about the little things they miss and what they will never take for granted again once this pandemic ends. (And hey, while you’re waiting, make it as fun as possible with these 27 things you should be doing for yourself in quarantine.)

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Breathing freely

It’s a truth that health care workers have known for some time but the rest of us are just discovering: Breathing through a mask stinks. It’s much harder to breathe through several layers of fabric. The face mask can restrict your vision, and wearing it makes you realize that you haven’t brushed your teeth for the last four days in quarantine, not to mention it can fog up your glasses. “I work in health care and currently have to wear a mask all day, every day. Everyone thinks they want an N95 but let me tell you it is incredibly hard to breathe with one on!” says Elana B. of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Find out the 12 wonderful things that will never be canceled.

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Grandma hugs

FaceTime is great but it’s no substitute for real face-to-face time with loved ones. “I miss my grandma so much, getting to hug her, and just that smell she has,” says Melyssa T. of Martinsburg, Virginia. “Sometimes the video calls make it worse because she can’t really hear me and it makes me miss her even more.” Here’s what to do when your whole life gets canceled.

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Closing your office door

A nice quiet office sounds like a dream for many people now. “I thought I wanted to work from home… until that’s all I’ve been able to do,” says Paul A. of Boulder, Colorado. “Between the kids and the dogs I can’t get a moment of peace, much less fully participate in a meeting. I feel like I’m going insane.” Will it ever go all the way back to normal? Many businesses are adapting to be totally online.

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Checking off a to-do list

Crazy busy schedules are one of the ills of modern society but it’s nice to have a few things filled in on the calendar. “I’m enjoying the extra time with my family but I miss having a schedule,” says Ariana S. of San Jose, California. “I actually really like checking things off my to-do list and I’d like to have more than three things on it.”

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Taking a spin class at the gym

Gyms were one of the first places to close and likely will be one of the last places to reopen, which is really taking a toll on people’s workouts. “I love to exercise, not just to burn calories but mainly for my mental health,” says Emily S. of Mesa, Arizona. “It’s how I deal with stress and anxiety and missing the gym is honestly the worst part of this whole thing for me.” While you can live stream a class at home, how many people actually do every exercise and try their hardest when no one is looking? That said, it’s important to find other ways to take care of yourself during quarantine: Here’s how one therapist is managing her mental health during the pandemic.

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Listening to your loved one’s snoring

“I know it sounds weird but I’ll never take my husband’s snoring for granted after this,” says Kimberly W. of Santa Barbara, California. “It used to irritate me to no end but now I think, ‘whew at least it’s snoring, not gasping for air, or worse yet, no sound at all because he’s not breathing.’ I still whack him though to halt the snores—I’m grateful, not sentimental!”

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Talking over coffee

Texting makes communicating with others easier and faster—a huge blessing during a quarantine—but you can have too much of a good thing. “My friends and I are texting more than ever so in some ways we’re actually talking more than before the quarantine,” says Alexis S. of Cardston, Alberta. “But I miss being able to get coffee and chat, you lose so much when you can’t see peoples’ faces or hear their voice.” Here’s how one woman stopped eating her way through quarantine.

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Reading memes that aren’t about the virus

Funny memes are a great way to laugh and blow off steam while feeling connected to others going through the same difficult things as you. But it stops being funny after a while. “I never want to see another coronavirus meme about either beer or gaining weight,” says Natalie A. of Denver, Colorado. “I’m just ready to talk about something else. Can we joke about politics again?” Until that day, you may as well enjoy these 14 memes about working from home that are hilariously accurate.

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Going out to eat

“I’m sick of everything that has to do with cooking. I’m sick of my own kitchen. I’m sick of cooking my own food. And I’m so, so sick of cleaning up all the dishes afterward,” says Sonya M. of Shoreline, Washington. “The first thing I’m going to do when the quarantine is lifted is to go sit at my favorite table in my favorite restaurant and order everything. I’ll leave a big tip.” Can we get an amen? Here’s what you need to know about ordering from restaurants while still social distancing.

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Being able to get routine medical care

Many people rely on primary care doctors, chiropractors, dentists, therapists, and other medical professionals to live a comfortable life. “I’m being super careful these days since my back goes out at the drop of a hat and I know I can’t go to the chiropractor,” says Eric L. of Seattle. “I always kinda complained because getting adjusted hurts but never again!”

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Walking through a grocery store without fear

Grocery shopping was never the most exciting activity for most people but it wasn’t a huge source of stress or fear like it is now. “It feels like every time I go to the store everyone else is the enemy now—they’re either competing with me for toilet paper or trying to kill me by breathing,” says Andrew F. of New York City. “I miss just getting to roam up and down the aisles and see what’s on sale.” These are the 12 things you need to clean after going to the outside world.

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Dropping the kids off at school

Since when are kids doing Calculus in the fourth grade? “I never realized how much my kids’ teacher really did until I was forced to do homeschool with them,” says Lizzy E. of Ann Arbor, Michigan. “Now, I totally understand everything she was trying to tell me at parent-teacher conferences. She deserves a raise… and I deserve a shot of Bailey’s in my coffee every morning.” We can all learn a thing or two from this woman who has homeschooled her kids successfully for three years.

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Washing your hair every day

Whether you’re trying to save money or have just let hygiene slide a little bit, people are showering less in quarantine. After all, who do you have to impress? “I hate how greasy my hair feels but there’s no point in washing it daily when I don’t have to go into the office,” says Michelle G. of New York City. In the meantime, give one of these 11 easy hairstyles you can do in five minutes a try.

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Rush-hour traffic

Traffic isn’t usually anyone’s idea of a good time but if there are enough cars on the road to cause a slowdown then that means things are reopened and people are living their lives again. “I mean, I probably will take being able to drive and traffic for granted again and I’ll probably still complain about it but I will still remember how much worse it is when no one is driving anywhere,” says Ami P. of Denver.

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Getting your teeth cleaned

You never realize how much plaque can build up—and how slimy yet fuzzy it can feel—in just six months without regular dental cleanings. “My teeth are so gross, all I want is to have that clean, polished feeling I get from the dentist,” says Mika H. of Austin, Texas. “And I think I have a cavity, probably from all the sugar I’ve been eating.”

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Eating ice cream at the mall

Malls, and everything fun that goes with it, are closed in most places. While the adult in you says it’s better for your wallet, the teen in you really just wants to go and wander around. “For date night by boyfriend and I would go to the mall and get frozen yogurt at our favorite place and then walk and talk,” says Ashley M. of Minneapolis. “Eating frozen yogurt at home just doesn’t taste as good, I don’t know what it is!” Do you live by one of the 13 malls with the best food courts in America?

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Wearing real pants

Jeans, trousers, slacks, and skirts are about as useful right now as a cruise ticket. “I haven’t put on real pants for weeks and while I like the stretchy freedom of leggings, I’m starting to miss feeling put together,” says Catherine K. of Albany, New York. “Sometimes I just feel better if I look better. I think wearing leggings and sweats is making me feel depressed.” When you have a virtual meeting, try one of these 15 tops that will pop on your next conference call.

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Booking a vacation

Springtime used to be prime time for dreaming and planning your summer vacation. Now? “I keep thinking ‘I wish I could go to…’ only to remember that no one is supposed to fly, drive, or even walk pretty much anywhere,” says Marcus A. of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “It’s so blah here right now all I want is a vacation at the end of this tunnel. And I can’t book anything.” But as soon as the quarantine lifts, you can always take one of these 20 summer vacations that take almost no planning.

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Going to the dog park

Dogs are really bad at social distancing, which might not be a terrible thing except their humans often have to get too close as well. “My sister-in-law who lives with us is immunocompromised so we aren’t taking any chances and we had to cancel the trips to the dog park because Ruby just can’t play by herself,” says Vince C. of Kirkland, Washington. “I don’t know who is more upset about it, me or her.” Find out the reasons behind your dog’s weird behavior.

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Going on a real date

Virtual dates have upsides but when it comes to making a real match, that’s hard to do without some real-world meet-ups. “I’m tired of just talking to guys online, I’m ready to move on to the next step,” says Cassie H. of Los Angeles, California. “I would love to just go hiking or on a bike ride. But no movies! I’ve watched way too many movies now!” Check out how one woman is still dating while social distancing.

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Making small talk with the cashier

If this pandemic has taught us one thing, it’s how essential grocery store workers, truck drivers, garbagemen, postal workers, and other “frontline” jobs really are. It’s also shown us how vulnerable they are to getting sick. “I will never, ever take essential workers, like grocery store clerks, for granted again,” says Emily P. of Hadley, Massachusetts.

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Going to the beach on a whim

Right now, trips out of your home are few and when they do happen they must be planned like a break-in to Fort Knox. “What I will never take for granted again is my personal freedom to go where I want, when I want, for any reason or absolutely no reason at all,” says Sara D. of Molfetta, Italy. “I live in Italy and the lockdown is quite extreme here.” These are the virtual day trips you can now take online.

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Getting a high five or pat on the back

Human touch is powerful and even the smallest gestures can have a big impact. “I miss touching another human being in any way whatsoever. I live alone so I haven’t had any physical contact with another person in about a month,” says Adrianne M., of Faribault, Minnesota. “Nothing. Zero. No hugs. No high fives. No handshakes. No pats on the back. No friend touching your arm when you laugh. Not even accidental touching, like bumping into someone. It’s incredibly brutal and not something I really thought much about until it was gone. And I’m not even a real touchy person in general!”

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Hosting a game night

You can still play board games if you are fortunate enough to be quarantined with people old enough and able enough to play but everyone else is out of luck. “I host a monthly guys’ ‘Risk night’ at my house and out of everything that’s what I’m missing the most, just getting to see my friends, hang out, and play games together,” says Dylan F. of Portland, Oregon. These are more of the best-reviewed board games everyone should own.

Close up of legs and panties of a woman sitting in a toilet room.dusanpetkovic/Getty Images

Going to the bathroom alone

Young kids understand privacy about as well as they do politics or calculus. For parents quarantined with kids that can mean no alone time ever, not even in the bathroom. “All I want is to poop without being interrupted,” says Lisandra P. of New Orleans, Louisiana. “That’s it. Is that too much to ask? Apparently it is.” Find out more tips for surviving quarantine with your family.

Charlotte Hilton Andersen
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, BS, MS, has been covering health, fitness, parenting, and culture for many major outlets, both in print and online, for 15 years. She's the author of two books, co-host of the Self Help Obsession podcast, and also does freelance editing and ghostwriting. She has appeared in television news segments for CBS, FOX, and NBC.