Unless you are Jared Leto back from an extensive meditation retreat in the desert then you are familiar with the Corona Virus Disease 2019 or COVID19. This pandemic has caused a good portion of the world to be confined to their living-quarters indefinitely. My city is no exception. Due to the nature of my work I have been forced to work from my home as well as self-quarantine. Per government orders, bars and restaurants, state parks, schools, and most businesses are closed. They even recently shut down the beach! Even if I wanted to go somewhere there is no where to go. When I drive downtown to the grocery store, the barren streets remind me of something described in a dystopian novel.
As an introvert, the first few weeks of being forced to stay home were amazing. I realize I am very privileged to be able to work from home and still be able to make money unlike a lot of my fellow Americans. For me, staying home in my sweatpants with my dog being able to read and practice yoga was a dream. Into the third week the novelty began to wear off and I started to experience “cabin-fever.”
In order to keep me (and my partner) sane I started to create a stay-at-home routine of things I never believed I had time for and now that I am home all the time I can do. With that being said, my caveat is that I am fully aware we are in a crisis and that just surviving right now is enough. This is not a vacation and I realize people are stuck at home working and/or taking care of kids, and can have numerous other concerns such as being jobless, homeless, in toxic relationships, and/or dealing with illness (mental or physical), etc. People may not have access to things I have listed and I understand that. The list I created is made up of things that worked for me to focus mindfulness and to get through this indefinite quarantine period without going batshit crazy.
- Read. Now is the time to dust off the books on your shelf that you had every intention of reading when you “found the time.” The time is now! Support local bookstores who do pickup or drop-off and purchase your favorite books or download ebooks from the Library. Reading is a beautiful form of escape from this uncertain time and a great way to learn something new.
- Listen to empowering podcasts. The best podcasts to listen to during this time are podcasts that inspire you or debunk COVID19 myths, teach you something, or ones that provide an escape from the terrible current reality. My current favorites are: Foodpsych, Getting Curious with Johnathan Van Ness, Food Heaven, Where Should We Begin?, By the Book, Unlocking Us with Brene Brown, and Fuck It Diet Podcast. I have been researching Intuitive Eating so most of my podcasts are related to that (more to come about IE in later posts).
- Unsubscribe from influencers or things that make you feel bad about yourself or do not align with your values. Again, I have been trying to heal my relationship with food and eschew diet culture so I block or unfollow influencers that promote weight loss or unhealthy supplements and those who post fat phobic content. This lately has also included blocking media outlets that sensationalizes the inaccurate COVID19 information. On the flip side, follow good news social media accounts or people who inspire you and make you feel good about yourself.
- Complete a puzzle, crossword, or brain teaser. Pull out that dusty puzzle sitting in the closet or borrow one from grandma and get to work. This is a great way to exercise the mind and take a break from social media and the news for a few minutes. Beware, one of my friends got tendinitis in her elbow from too much puzzling.
- YouTube a skill or new language. If you listen to episode 153 of Getting Curious an economist named Bradley M. Gold discusses tips on how to survive this pandemic and prepare ourselves for any future disasters or pandemics. One of the main tips is to learn a trade that you can use to barter with such as sewing, cooking, woodwork, etc. Another great way to keep from getting bored is to learn a new language that you can hopefully put to use once the travel bans are lifted.
- Gentle Movement. You do not need to start pumping iron or start running a marathon just because there is more time to do so and people keep posting push-up challenges on social media. However, one way to nourish yourself and to stave off anxiety is to move your body in a way that feels good. Support online fitness instructors like yoga teachers and do live videos or archived classes or just get outside and take the dog for a walk (if you are able to go outside and have the space to walk while social distancing). Fresh air is the best way to ward off “cabin fever.”
- Research something you’ve always wanted to learn. As I have mentioned I have been examining research related to health and intuitive eating. Have you wanted to learn the geography of the world or want to learn how to sew a button? Youtube is a great resource. Doing extra trainings to help for my job has also been helpful.
- Write letters or send thoughtful texts to loved ones. Being separated from the ones we love is the hardest part about self-isolating. Take the time to write the ones you love a letter expressing how grateful you are to have them in your life. If you do not have the stationary or stamps send them a meaningful text. Reaching out is the best way to feel connected and less alone.
- Volunteer. There is a limit to what we can do while self-isolating but The Red Cross and Meals on Wheels are two companies that are not shut down and are desperate for volunteers. Blood donations and drivers to deliver meals are much needed, especially now. You can look up the closest ones to your area to volunteer. There are so many ways you can reach out to your community. In my town, they had volunteers sewing mask kits for the hospital. Keep your ears open and eyes peeled for opportunities. Volunteering helps others, but also boosts our own satisfaction.
- Meditate/Pray. Taking just a few minutes to sit in silence in our uncomfortableness and focus on breathing has scientifically been proven to lift our moods. There are tons of online guided meditations and apps. It is amazing what kind of things come up when we just are and let things be. There are even meditations specifically for COVID relief.
- Journal/Write Gratitude Lists. Meditation can bring up a lot of emotions as well as living during a pandemic. The best way to deal with these emotions is getting them out and a great way to do that is to journal. The media and all the second-hand information we receive related to the pandemic makes it difficult to focus on the positive. There may be many reasons to feel despondent and stressed. However, in the midst of the uncertainty there are so many things to be grateful for. Every day I write just a few of those things and it helps keep perspective.
- Watch. My four year-old niece has named viewing television or movies “watch” and always asks to do so. If you are a parent do not feel guilty about letting kids watch more tv than you usually would allow, again these are not normal times! TV is also a great escape from reality and I enjoy watching old romantic comedies when I am feeling anxious. Give yourself permission during this time to watch TV or play video games if that helps with the uncertainty.
- FaceTime, Zoom, Call, or MarcoPolo with loved ones. It is lonely being isolated. I luckily have my partner and our pets, but it can be especially isolating for those who live alone. The best I have felt is when I did a Zoom date with my girlfriends and we all watched the dumpster trash show “Love is Blind” while drinking wine. It felt almost like we were together in person enjoying Happy Hour.
- House Projects/Declutter. Now is also the time to do those home projects you have been putting off or yard work that needs done. Youtube is full of great DIY tips! Decluttering, which for me is essential for minimalism, is a great distraction and way to perform self-care during Quarantine. Start going through your closets, junk drawers, garage, under the bed, etc. and ask yourself if the items add value to your life or are even necessary. Start piling up the items and once you have the okay-go-ahead donate or sell those items you’ve decided to part with to a local thrift shop or charity.
- Beauty Care. Face-masks, clipping and painting nails, foot scrubs, baths, etc. are all great self-care tools and distractions. I made myself a lip scrub and have painted my nails rainbow to please my niece. This may seem superficial, but anything we can do to take care of ourselves is worth a go. However, leave the haircutting to professionals! There are too many funny memes of people ending up with haircuts like Joe Exotic.
- Take a break from the news and social media. Delete apps, turn off the TV, and for the-love-of-God take a break from the news!! There is an abundance of information coming at us like a Tsunami and not all of it is accurate. Follow a few sources you trust, remember the media sensationalizes everything and take breaks from it throughout the day. What also helps me is following good news social media like @TanksGoodNews on Instagram. Good things are happening, even during a pandemic.
- Partake in online therapy. If you are feeling depressed, anxious, have an eating disorder, or would just like someone to talk to there are a lot of online resources with licensed therapists that you can do from your home either online or on the phone. A common online resource is TalkSpace. No one should have to deal with negative emotions alone! Therapy is best thing I have ever done for myself.
- Bake. The grocery stores are missing toilet paper as well as most baking ingredients every time I go. In times of stress my go-to is baking and I turn into The Barefoot Contessa in the kitchen. For me, self-care is baking cookies and breads and doing porch deliveries to my friends and family. I have also taken the opportunity to make a plethora of freezer meals for the future. Try something new or make something comforting, but whatever you do please do not feel you need to diet or restrict food intake. This is a damn pandemic and snacking more or wanting more comforting foods is totally reasonable!
- Rest. There are workout videos and diet shaming on any social media platform you log into. Again, this is not a vacation, this is a pandemic! You are allowed to rest (if you can) and not do push-up challenges or meal prep or DIY your whole home. The future is uncertain and scary so just resting on the couch, in bed, on your balcony or whatever feels good to you is acceptable. Productivity does not equal your worth, especially now.
- Just Breathe. We got this! The rain does not last forever and while times are so uncertain and scary our ancestors have made it through so much and we can too! Take a few moments to take a couple deep breaths and just do what you can to take care of yourself, whatever that looks like for you!