These are unprecedented times. This is a phrase I’ve not only used multiple times, but have heard everywhere. Many of us have never gone through such an intensely scary and unsure time as this, and we may never again. But right now, so many of us need help trying to navigate stay at home and shelter in place orders. Our hours, days, and weeks have been and will be filled with worry, endless news cycles, and the never ending “What ifs?” and “What nows?”.
Some of us are quarantined with family or roommates, while some of us are alone. During this time, mental health will be one of the most important things, next to our physical health. In a world of aesthetic self-care and influencers showing off their lavish quarantine lifestyles, how do we regular people stay sane? I’ve compiled a list of things that my significant other and I are doing, as well as other practical ideas for taking care of yourself during this time. They’ve been helping us and hopefully they can help you and your loved ones during this time.
-No COVID/Pademic Hour(s)
We came up with this after noticing how focusing on trying to find the most recent news and rehashing what we thought of that news, was making our anxiety skyrocket. I’m not advocating for you the reader to quit the news all together and live in a bubble. Trust me, I tried this and it makes things ten times worse when something big happens. What we’ve done is decide once we start cooking supper we will stop looking at, reading, watching, or listening to any pandemic news and do this until we got to bed. Only if we see something major happens will we bring it up to the other person. For myself, I’ve found that this gives me a breather from the constant worry that is a constant in our lives now. We try and focus on something that will make us happy, even if it’s just sitting around talking. Find a time that will work for you and your family. Maybe you’d rather spend the mornings quiet and away from COVID news. Or have a nice quiet lunch with your kids. It’s whenever you want, however you want. Take time to breath.
Finding accessible hobbies has been something I’ve focused on. What do I mean by accessible? I’m thinking of things you have lying around, things you meant to try at one time but never got around to, or things you can order online easily without putting anyone at risk. I had an electric piano from when I took piano lessons as a kid lying around, and decided to set that up. Sheet music is easy enough to find online, same with tutorials. I had yarn left over from when I was a teen and college student and I was into knitting and crocheting. I pulled those out and have started that back up again with the supplies I had available. Get creative! Maybe there’s a local plant nursery you can support and order some plants for drop off or pick up depending on your area’s current situation. Have extra notebooks lying around? Try writing poems or short stories. A sketchpad, some pens, and some free tutorials online and you can easily start drawing. Now is a great time to develop a stress relieving hobby to help pass the time.
-Learning a New Skill
Now is also a great time not only for hobbies but for skills. Some of are lucky enough to still be working, while others are sadly without work. While this is a stressful time, mentally and financially for those without work, a positive aspect one can look towards is to develop skills that can assist you after the pandemic. Not only does it show you are resourceful, but also determined. With the many free tutorials and classes that are out there, I encourage you to take a bit of time out of your day to try and learn a new skill. Excel, Access, web development, writing, graphic design, accounting and so much more are available to you online. During a time when so many people are worried and seeking hope for the future, this may be a great place to start.
-Move Any Way You Can
When everyone is cooped up at home, we all quickly become stagnant. And not only is movement good for you physically, it’s great for you state of mind. If possible, take walks outside, start running, do yoga or a bodyweight workout in your backyard. Any way you can move, do it. So many apps and exercise streaming services are offering free extended trials during this time. But obviously be safe and practice social distancing as well as all other recommendations made by health officials. Video call your friends and family and have a workout session together. Find some YouTube videos and try out a new workout. This will not only help you stay healthier during lockdown, but movement can help you clear your mind and improve your mood. Something we all need right now.
-Up Your Pantry Game
So many of us are trying to make due with what we have on hand with our meals. Utilize that pantry like you’ve never utilized it before. Try new spices, new combos or new ways of cooking. There are thousands of recipes out there for literally anything you can think of. Not only is cooking a skill that everyone should have, but it could also be a hobby you learn to love. If you live with people, cook with them, or take turns cooking something interesting for each other. Teach kids the basics of cooking. Giving them some control and autonomy during unsure times can help them feel more secure and less scared. Maybe cook with someone over video call. Try and make the same dish if possible and then take some time to have a virtual meal together.
-Disconnect or (Virtually) Connect
If you’re living with other people right now, be they family, friends or roommates, remember that it is okay for you to disconnect from them, even in the same house. Alone time is so important for those living with others, so remember to take some time by yourself. This is anything from a bath to a “super staycation”. If you can, separate yourselves from others and let them know you want to be on your own physically for X amount of time and to act as if you aren’t there during this time. For introverts like my significant other and me, this is super important. Being able to step away has been huge for our mental health. But for those that are alone right now, too much alone time can be depleting. We all need some variety in our contact with other humans. Try and connect virtually with others. Video chat, text, phone call, letters and emails. Not only will it help alleviate fears you may have for those you are disconnected from, but it will give you a sense of connection to them, even when being far away.
-Freedom To Do Nothing
And lastly, remember to give yourself the okay to do nothing. For some of us, we feel like we need to be productive all the time, and that during this time we should be working and doing more. But now more than ever, you need to be nice to yourself. If you wake up and do not have the energy to do anything other than what’s expected of you, that’s okay. Take some time to veg out, to take a nap. But please remember not to sit in this feeling. Don’t let this feeling linger for too long. If you find this feeling is persistent and difficult to shake, please try and seek professional help with a therapist, counselor or doctor who will talk to you via phone or secure video chat. Remember that your mental health is just as important as your physical health right now.
I hope this list was helpful. I hope you will be able to take these ideas and use them to your advantage. I would love to hear what you and your loved ones are doing to take care of yourselves right now.
Stay safe and stay healthy.