Long before the coronavirus became a pandemic and international news story, a lineup of contestants had already introduced American TV viewers to the idea of self-quarantine, “social distancing,” and slowly losing your sanity while trapped alone in an apartment for a long stretch of time with no choice but to communicate via text with people you can’t see all day. It was called The Circle, and it was a surprisingly fantastic Netflix reality show.
With more and more people working remotely due to the pandemic and being instructed to self-quarantine to avoid spreading the coronavirus, we decided to ask for advice from Joey Sasso, who spent over two weeks alone in a U.K. apartment with no phone, television, or internet connection while on The Circle. Optimistic about the pandemic almost to a fault, Sasso obliged. Please enjoy these self-quarantine tips from the expert himself.
For Sasso, the most alarming thing about the pandemic isn’t the virus itself, but the hysteria surrounding it. “Right now, with everything going on, you can’t really go anywhere and not hear about it … That, to me, is what’s scary, because you really see people terrified to go and do anything,” he says. “When you’re a person that gets really, really afraid of things, and now this is something really serious? That can mentally make your life very, very hard, because you don’t know where you can go and what you can do.”
While Sasso, who currently lives in L.A., says he hasn’t made any big changes in his daily routine yet, his approach is just to avoid giving in to panic. “I just never want to let something control me that I can’t control. I can control washing my hands, but I can’t control all those things,” he says. “Just keep living your life: Do your stuff, take care of yourself, be cautious. But at the end of the day, whatever’s going to happen’s gonna happen. I’m just not going to let my days and nights be destroyed by paranoia and fear, because you really can’t control it.”
There’s more to do when you’re trapped at home than you realize.
While on The Circle, Sasso was stuck in an apartment for over two weeks without television, a phone, or internet access, so he knows a thing or two about finding things to do beyond watching Netflix or scrolling through Twitter. “I need to always have tasks that I can knock out so I can kill some time and get some good energy out in the process,” he says. So what does he suggest? “One is definitely reading — which, I am a hypocrite because I’m not a big reader of books unless it’s something that really interests me and grabs me,” he says, citing music biographies and books about film as his favorite options. He also likes drawing, painting, working out, and cooking, but for Sasso, the biggest way to pass the time sounds like the least fun. “Cleaning, as goofy as sounds. When I get busy and my apartment gets dirty, I can’t get comfortable because it really bothers me,” he says.
Binge that show you think you hate.
Of course, there’s always binge-watching. Sasso’s favorite “comfort food” shows are The Sopranos, Entourage, and Dexter, but when asked if there’s a show he hasn’t watched that he might binge during a self-quarantine, he took a different approach. “I am not a fan whatsoever of Friends — never have been, can’t stand it,” he says. “I would really try to sit there and watch it, just for an experiment. If I sit here and watch this from the beginning, can I figure out why people love this show? Because I do not understand it whatsoever.”
Stay in shape.
Oh, you thought we didn’t ask for Joey’s self-quarantine workout recommendations? If you can’t go to the gym, Sasso says to turn to “the old-school boxing calisthenics routine that never fails,” a.k.a. push-ups and sit-ups with your feet under the couch. If you want the full Joey Sasso self-quarantine workout collection, get an ab roller, workout resistance bands, and an Iron Gym that hangs over a doorway. “You can have an hour and a half workout that could just be really fantastic,” he says.
Seriously, don’t panic.
“It reminds me of, to an extent, Leo’s role on The Aviator playing Howard Hughes,” Sasso says, returning to his thoughts on how panicked everyone is right now. “His OCD of germs kicks in and he’s in a bathroom washing his hands repeatedly until his skin’s cracking, and then he sits there and he’s looking at a door handle and he can’t touch the door handle and he’s terrified. There’s always going to be people out there that let fear of the unknown get the best of them, but you can’t do it, man. It might get really bad for a while, but you can’t let it get you like that, because that could be something that could have real long-term effects on you or your mental health long after this thing is done and over.”
Self-quarantine is a great mental exercise.
Even if you hate staying indoors or working from home, Sasso suggests you try turning your frustration into another way to pass the time. “Sit down and write! If you’re pissed off about it and you can’t get your anger out to anyone or you don’t want to just be that guy talking to people and complaining, get a notebook out, sit down, write all your thoughts and feelings outright,” he says. “Eventually there’s going to come a moment where you’re gonna say, ‘I’m sick and tired of being pissed off and angry. I got it all out. Now I can do something else that’s going to help me rebuild, start this day over for myself in a positive light, and move on.’”
Sasso has had his fair share of questions about whether or not he got bored while filming The Circle, and he’s the first to admit that there were some grueling moments. “Of course you’re going to get bored! Of course you’re going to get angry and be like, ‘Damn, I can’t take this!’” he says. “But there’s so many things around you, in terms of keeping yourself busy and working on something, that now it’s like, okay, let your imagination run wild. Look at all the things that you can do and get done.”
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.