A Very Brief Look At Parasocial Relationships and Interactions

Recently online, especially on YouTube, there have been discussions about parasocial relationships and interactions. Our relationship and interactions with celebrities and the new age influencer celebrities is different than what it used to be even ten years ago.

The term parasocial interaction was first coined in 1956 by Donald Horton and Richard Wohl. It defines a psychological relationship between a media figure and their audience. What happens is some of the audience forms what feels like a friendship between themselves and the media figure, even though they have never met said figure. With repeated, positive experiences in viewing this figure, the audience will form this parasocial relationship.

Social media has increased the chances of this type of interaction as well as the intensity of this interaction. Online communication with influencers feels much more intimate and real than merely viewing a media figure on tv.

The term ‘influencer’ to describe these new age celebrities is also very fitting as oftentimes those in these parasocial interactions are much more susceptible to influence from the person being followed, whether it be in beliefs or in consuming goods. Because there is a feeling of closeness between the influencer and the audience, the trust that comes with this relationship sways consumers into buying specific goods.

Parasocial relationships have existed though before the internet or even mass media, as people would sometimes form believed relationships with political figures or famous people of the time.

There is a good amount of research on this topic that has looked into ways that this type of interaction works on a cognitive level and who may be susceptible to it. Those that have a dismissive attachment style or find interacting within others difficult and/or anxiety inducing, may find parasocial interaction to be fulfilling.Parasocial interaction is regarded as a normal cognition and extension of healthy social cognition.

In children, girls are more likely than boys to develop parasocial relationships with television or media figures. Boys are more likely to form a PI with a male figure while girls equally choose either male or female figures. A child’s PI and PR with a media figure can have lasting effects on their self-perception later in life as well as relationships. These relationships can also enhance a child’s learning through personalization.

There are obviously negative effects as well. In young girls, some PI and PR can result in a negative body image. These interactions can increase self-comparison and comparison with the character. While with men, those who had experienced prior PI and PR with muscular superhero characters as young boys were less likely to have negative body image than those who had no experience with PI and PR with muscular superheroes.

There is some research in a sub-field regarding parasocial breakups. This is when the fixture of the PI/PR either disappears or something happens to dissolve the relationship. While more research needs to be done, some researchers have found that individuals can experience the same turmoil and trauma, though on a smaller scale, as to a social breakup when a parasocial breakup occurs.

Parasocial interactions and relationships are more prevalent and easier to fall into these days with social media platforms like Youtube, Instagram, and Twitch. We the consumer are afforded what appears to be vulnerable moments and glimpse into the lives of internet celebrities we enjoy, thus building trust with viewers. Over time there is a sense of friendship or closeness that is built between the content creator or influencer and their audience. Audiences these days are more than a fandom, in many cases these individuals feel like they are involved in the creator’s life.

Being aware of parasocial relationships and interactions can help you identify these views in yourself and others and help mitigate any negative effects these relationships might have. These relationships can provide a wealth of good, but also a destructive hobby. I encourage you to check out the research and articles out there as there is ample reading out there on the topic.

Why Self-Help Doesn’t Work

So many of us love self-help. We ravenously consume the latest and greatest, hoping that with every page we read, we will become a better and better person. But if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably experienced the moment when you realize, “Wait, nothing has changed despite having read all these articles and books”. Now sure, some of you out there will have taken these books and become a better person, which is great. But I can bet that there are many of you out there that have wondered this same thing. 

So what’s happening? Well a few things. Have you ever noticed the content feeling you get after deciding to chase after a goal or how good it feels to make a to-do list for the next day, the decision that tomorrow is the day that everything changes? It feels great! It feels so good to say to yourself this is it, this is the moment that I’m going to be different.

But then you wake up the next day, look at that to-do list and wonder, “What the hell was I thinking?”. Sometimes we can get started and keep the momentum going through the next day, or maybe even a few days, but for many, the momentum doesn’t carry us very far.

When we read self-help books, they elicit a similar response, we resolve to do better and are inspired to be successful. Many times though, that’s as far as it takes us. What’s happening is a brain response that creates a feeling similar to the one we get when we accomplish something. Essentially, we feel as though we’ve done something and therefore do not need to continue.

What I liken these responses to is a study done by Peter Gollwitzer and colleagues where they examined what happens when we announce our goals and the effect that has on our goal completion ability. 

This study looked at individuals pursuing higher education. The students were given a questionnaire regarding how they felt about their chosen field and their intentions in pursuing this field. There were two groups that answered this questionnaire, one whose intentions were recognized and those whose intentions were ignored. 

The study found that those who had their intentions recognized regarding their field worked less than their ignored counterparts. Those that had been recognized were more likely to end their studying early and feel a sense of completion sooner than the group that had their intentions ignored. Having our goals affirmed by others makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, leading to an internal sense of accomplishment.

I know for myself, I can create this feeling all on my own. Sitting down and reading an inspiring and interesting pop psychology or self-help book honestly makes me feel accomplished. Watching motivational Youtube videos? Yep, same thing. I feel as though I’ve done something, my brain rewards me with a rush of dopamine. All the while, I’ve accomplished nothing. 

This is why it’s easy to get in this self-help, motivational loop. We’re seeking that next hit to make us feel good, make us feel accomplished. We read another book, watch another video, make another list. All the while we’re accomplishing nothing.

What needs to be cultivated is self discipline. Self-help books can provide a framework, but they will not put the work in for you. Sometimes the books we read provide us with really great advice or anecdotal evidence we can take and apply to our own lives. More often than not, we don’t do this. Being able to put into practice all the information we’ve gleaned on how to stop procrastinating or how to save money, would lead to more success than just reading it and hoping it somehow changes your life.

Self-help books won’t help you unless you act on them. We all want a quick fix, a quick change, instant gratification. We are hardwired to find the easiest way to do something. We’re also hardwired to seek out things that make us feel good. Videos, books and articles won’t do the work for you, but they’ll make it feel like you’ve done the work. If you find yourself reading all these motivational, inspirational, how to improve your life books, but you don’t see any change, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Maybe these books actually do nothing for you and that’s fine. Maybe these books could do something for you, if only you put the work in.

Take a step back next time you put on an inspiring video or read an article on how to study better and ask yourself, “What can I take away from this?”. Then work to apply it. See how different things in your life will be once you are able to self-reflect in this way.

Simple Ways to Get Fit and Healthy

Oftentimes, when we want to start exercising or eating differently, we make all these plans, sometimes buying all these new gadgets or foods, or getting a gym membership. The first day might go great, rough albeit, but good. The second day is more of a struggle, and eventually three, four, five days down the road, we give up. For some it can take a bit longer to hit this wall, for others, starting is the biggest hurdle. It’s not as if we don’t want these things, but then why is it so hard to follow through with fitness and health goals? As someone who struggled with following up on my workout and nutrition dreams, these are a few things I did in order to finally start accomplishing what I had set out to.

Don’t Go All Out

So many times we set goals with the intention of going full force into whatever we need to do. Go to the gym 6 times a week, eat only fruits and vegetables, walk 10,000 steps a day, run every single day, and drink a gallon of water a day. But then, inevitably, we falter or we just can’t keep up with all the things we wanted to accomplish. So we give up. Then some time later, we try it all over again, only to repeat the cycle. As someone who has had these same experiences, I don’t recommend jumping onto every aspect of your goal right off the bat. Instead start with the idea of just forming a habit, or incorporating something small and simple into your routine. If you have a goal of working out everyday for an hour, but you struggle to keep this goal, try something small and manageable. Say, “I will go for a 10 minute walk around my neighborhood” or “I will do a 10 minute workout video everyday”. Pair it with another task that you normally do. This is called habit stacking. After dinner, I will go for a walk, or after I brush my teeth, I will do 10 minutes of yoga. This is more likely to help build a habit that you can then build and grow into something more, like walking 30 minutes a day or cooking healthy dinners 6 days of the week.

Set Yourself Up For Success

I remember reading about this tip in Atomic Habits by James Clear. It has become one of my favorite suggestions from his book. Remove things and situations that will take you away from your goals. By taking away the option to eat unhealthy food, you increase your chances of eating the healthy food you have in your house. Sleeping in your workout clothes makes it more likely that you will get up and work out in the morning. Prepping your gym bag before you workout, prepping your food ahead of time, these are all great ways to improve your chances of following through with your goals. 

Find Activity Anywhere

Every little bit counts and can boost your overall health. Parking a little further away than you would normally, so that you can walk. Obviously do this within safety and reason. Finding stairs to take instead of the elevator. Using commercials or breaks to stretch. By reframing those little moments, this can not only help you add a bit more healthy movement into your day, it can also help you flex your willpower muscle. When you exercise willpower in this way but shifting your habits and thoughts, it helps to gradually shift your habits and thoughts in other parts of your life.  You will start seeing new opportunities for health and wellness start popping up the longer you practice self-discipline.

Do not restrict yourself

In regards to things like food and lazing around when we start our health journeys, we will sometimes heavily restrict these things. Many times, this can lead to destructive behaviors and creating negative feelings of self worth. Instead, start practicing moderation. Instead of saying, absolutely no potato chips, start practicing putting only a handful of chips on a plate with other healthy foods. Instead of banning take out from your house, make it a special meal once or twice a week. This sort of thing takes practice, patience and self-reflection. This is where awareness of oneself and your thoughts will be very important. Learning to be kind to yourself and allowing room for mistakes and growth are very important when we pursue goals, especially one like health and fitness. Oftentimes we have histories of falling off the wagon and punishing ourselves mentally. I myself found that by slowly incorporating foods that I knew were nutritious into my daily diet, I would have a better foundation going forward for a healthy diet. I would place on my daily to do list “Eat 1 serving of fruit”. It might seem silly, but in the long run, it has helped me to not only eat more fruit, but to also enjoy it more.

Beware of Social Media

While social media can provide great inspiration and sometimes provides a community that you find support in, it can also end up as a black hole that we can lose ourselves in. Remember that fitness influencers and creators are paid to be fit and look a certain way. While some have good intentions, others do not. While some have legitimate credentials in order to give advice, many others do not have the correct credentials to be giving advice. Be picky with who you follow and be mindful so that you don’t lose yourself in a social media whole. We can quickly get down on ourselves when seeing the most perfect version of someone who is at a different point in their journey to us. 

Change is Hard

Remember that lifestyle changes can be hard, and that’s okay! Even if we make small changes like I recommended at the beginning, it can still be hard. If you want to run a 5k, there will be some initial discomfort when you start running, especially if you weren’t a runner before. If you want to start building muscle, but haven’t lifted weights before, you will experience muscle soreness for a while. Trying to eat healthy after eating junk food for a period of time? You’ll probably experience cravings and grumpiness. And that’s all okay. That’s why I recommend starting small, it’ll be less of a shock to your system and you’ll be more likely to succeed as you start to build on your new habits.

Health is a long term goal, not something that can be achieved overnight. It is not something you do accomplish and never have to think about again. This is a marathon and not a sprint. Learning to love cooking and moving are big parts of the journey. These tips are just meant to help make your journey a bit easier. 

Check out my Etsy Shop for a workout planner and a running planner to help with your health journey!

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is the feeling that something you have earned or achieved is more a fluke, by chance or pure luck rather than skill and hard work. You’ve likely experienced this feeling before. For many it will happen in a new job, entering college or within personal relationships. I know I’ve experienced the feeling of starting a new job and wondering why in the world they hired me, that they would soon find out I was not competent for this job.  Many others will experience this in a new relationship, where they fear their new partner will discover who they “really are”, or when a young student starts college and doesn’t feel like they are up to par with their classmates.

Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes first introduced the concept in 1978 as the impostor phenomenon. They examined very high achieving women and their perceptions of their abilities and experiences. These women experienced internal feelings of inability and fraud within the positions they held, even though there was plenty of external evidence to show their achievements and worthiness in those positions. The researchers believed this may have occurred due a variety of different factors including gender stereotypes, culture, and the style to which they attribute causes of events and behaviors.

There’s been a lot of research on impostor syndrome since, which has gone on to investigate additional aspects of the phenomenon. Now it is called the impostor phenomenon because recent research examines this event as an experience or reaction to stimuli and is not considered to be a mental disorder. It is also not recognized by the DSM.

Part of experiencing this phenomenon is the impostor cycle. The first part of this cycle is receiving an achievement-related task. This task will soon follow with feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. These feelings will then produce one of two reactions: over-preparation or procrastination.

With procrastination, those experiencing these sensations will put the task off, leading to a last-minute effort to complete the task. While completion of this task will lead to a sense of relief, the nature of its completion will lead the experiencer to ignore positive feedback. Any achievements will be seen as luck or chance and will then be discounted.

When the experiencer over prepares, the individual will attribute their success to their hard work, which is seen as being outside of their personal ability. Instead of viewing their work as an achievement, they will view it as a lack of natural ability. All of this together will create a cycle where every time this occurs, it reinforces the idea that the individual is a fraud.

Impostor phenomenon is shown to equally experienced by men and women, though this is sometimes debated. It is sometimes argued that women experience impostor phenomenon more frequently than men. Men generally experience impostor phenomenon concerning success and the fear of not being good enough, while women experience it with relation to performance ability.

It has also been examined how race and gender play a role together in the experience of the impostor phenomenon. Some studies have shown that women of color tend to experience the impostor phenomenon due to a combination of racism and sexism. Men of color can also experience impostor syndrome, but being a woman of color can mean the individual is more susceptible because of these factors. 

Many of us will experience impostor syndrome at some point in our lives, whether it be in a new relationship, job, or education. There are a few ways to prevent or alleviate these feelings in order to help you realize your potential. The best way is to seek out professional counseling. Many times, this phenomenon is accompanied by feelings of anxiety, depression, and lowered self-esteem. If you are experiencing these feelings, as well as the feeling that you are a fraud in whatever you are pursuing, seeking out help can be one of the best ways to help with these thoughts and feelings.

Another way to reduce feelings of being an impostor is to improve feelings to intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is when you are motivated by a personal or internal reason. Instead of trying to achieve something for your parents, or to make someone happy, finding reasons you should do something for you can help switch the negative self-talk and turn around self-doubt. Examples may be wanting a career that helps others, or receiving a degree for yourself.

Mentors are also suggested as being helpful. Having someone who has gone through what you are looking to pursue means you will have someone to express any feelings of inadequacy. This person will have most likely experienced these feelings as well and will be able to empathize and provide advice and feedback regarding these feelings.

As stated previously, many of us will most likely experience this phenomenon at some point in our lives. But knowing what the impostor phenomenon is and how it works can help you begin to recognize it in yourself and take action when it becomes too great. Remember that if you are experiencing distress or feelings of depression and anxiety, please seek professional help. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

Practical Everyday Self Care

Self-care has become incredibly popular as of late. Recently though, it seems as though self-care has become more of a competition, an aesthetic goal to reach. If you watch videos of people’s self-care night routines, you might have noticed that while they are fun to watch, they seem difficult to execute in the real world. For myself, I find that many of the activities, tips, and tricks that people give for self-care, are not so relaxing or rejuvenating. I don’t particularly like taking baths or spending an hour on skincare when I’m dead tired. And I certainly don’t have the money to be spending on all the aesthetic self-care items that are out there. I found myself thinking, what are some practical habits we can incorporate into our day to have a little more self-care in our lives? These are things that don’t necessarily require money spent or a boatload of extra time in the day. Instead, these are practical little ways to be kinder to yourself on a daily basis.

Create a Daily Meditation Practice

So many people recommend a daily meditation habit, myself included. It’s not just because it’s trendy but because it has so many brain-boosting benefits.  Meditation is used in so many mental health settings because it can transform lives. It is essentially training your brain to become aware of the thoughts that go whizzing through your brain. Many times, in guided meditation you are told to clear your mind, but that’s not the purpose, to have an empty mind. Instead, it’s practicing the ability to recognize the thought and let it go. Instead of chasing every rabbit that runs in front of your mind’s eye, you simply acknowledge it and let it pass. You may get to a point where you can sit in the quietness of your mind.  Meditation takes practice, but once you start getting the hang of it, you will notice changes in your ability to handle your emotions and thoughts. Take five minutes to practice every day, and gradually increase if you have more time.

Journal Frequently

Journaling is a good way to get us thinking about our emotions and the state of our being. Journaling regularly can help you not only reduce stress but also help you work through any problems you might be experiencing. Throughout my life, while I have not always journaled frequently, I found it to be a very cathartic experience. To be able to write down all my thoughts and feels, was a way of helping me process through them and find solutions. Even if I did not find solutions to my problems or feelings, I was able to put them out there and recognize them in a similar way to meditation. I encourage you to do the same. Journaling through all your worry and anxiety can help you gain clarity on what may be causing it and how to deal with it. I also found it helpful to return to previous passages to gain further insight into a problem. Take a bit of time to journal a page or even just half a page. Think of something that has bothered you and put it down on paper. You might even find it a bit liberating to get it out of your mind and onto paper.

Set a Time to Stop Working

Many productivity gurus will recommend this as a way to stave off burnout. I think it’s a great way to be kind to yourself daily. Instead of pushing yourself for hours and hours, taking work home with you, set a time where you are done for the day. No more work, no more stress. Continuous work won’t produce better work. I understand if you have many things on your plate that you need to get done but please do be kind and give yourself a little freedom. Otherwise, burnout will appear on the horizon sooner than you’d like. It doesn’t have to be the same time every day either since many of us have many different obligations at different times. But when you do set a time, be firm with yourself, and stop when it’s time to stop. If you wait until you are burnt out to give yourself some breathing room, it’s too late. You will be taking time to deal with mental exhaustion and health as well as physical symptoms before you can relax. Try different times of the day. Even if it is only an hour before bed, take a bit of time to step away and take care of yourself.

Develop hobbies you thoroughly enjoy

Finding a hobby you truly enjoy is another fantastic way to care for your mind. I know for myself when I am working on a hobby project, it gives me something to look forward to at the end of the day. I love being creative and working with my hands so when I get the chance at the end of a long day, I find it to be incredibly relaxing and fulfilling. It can feel especially good when our hobby is something we are passionate about, but may not be able to pursue full time. So many are in stressful jobs that they do not want. Having something you can pursue on the side is worth exploring. Burning yourself out on a job you hate is an awful experience for anyone. Take some time and explore. Maybe when you stop working for the day at your set time, as suggested previously, you can take some time and learn to draw or knit or play guitar. Even the exploration of hobbies can be exciting and fulfilling.

Dedicate One Day a Week

I like to dedicate my Saturdays (or whichever day works best), to a day where I don’t have to do anything at all if I don’t want to. Generally, I do end up working on something, but there are some days where I just need the time to recharge. Now, it’s completely understandable if this is near impossible for you. Many of us have so much going on that we simply can’t sacrifice a whole day. I encourage you to try and pick a half-day if you can. Or if neither of those is possible, go back to my previous tip of setting aside time every night to be done. Maybe set aside a day once every two weeks. Many times, we feel lazy about those days we end up doing nothing, but they can be incredibly restorative. You can still work on things on these days, but make sure they are not work-related, or at least very lightly work-related. Do not trick yourself into thinking you want to get work done when in fact you merely feel obligated to get work done. Take this time to get some errands done or clean your house. Whatever you do, take this dedicated time to unplug your brain from work or other stresses.

Practice Being Easy On Yourself

Monitoring your self-talk is a simple, yet effective way to practice self-care all day long. The best way to start this is to start taking notes or journaling when you find yourself becoming stressed. If you set out to track this, it’ll become more cognizant for you and you’ll start noticing patterns in your thinking. Once you start noticing your thought patterns, you can start correcting them. Often, we don’t notice that we are having negative thoughts or destructive self-talk when something stressful is happening. If this is the case with you, as it was with me, take some time to think back on your day and evaluate either your overall thoughts for the day or a particularly stressful situation. Why was it stressful? Were you thinking anything in particular? Why were you thinking of those particular things? Simply taking time to reflect on your thoughts can be incredibly helpful for breaking down where your thoughts and feelings turn sour. You can incorporate charting your thoughts into your daily journaling habit as well.

Tough Love Self Care

We all put things off to some degree. Usually, because something about doing that one thing scares us. We don’t want to tackle the mounting dishes in the sink because it seems daunting. We don’t want to confront our bills because we don’t know if we have the money. While these tasks seem like insurmountable mountains, getting them done can be some of the most gratifying self-care out there in my opinion. I call it tough-love self-care because we often do not want to do these tasks and find them stressful. But in fact, it’s one of the kindest things we can do for ourselves, including our future selves. When we take care of those scary things, we are reducing the worry and stress that keeps mounting when we put them off. Instead of letting those things build bigger and bigger, tackle them head-on. This will take that stress off of you, making one aspect of your life that much easier. Think of your future self and what kind of things you can do for them. Prep all your meals for the week so that future you don’t have to stress about finding healthy lunches during the week. Organize your closet so future you does not have to stress about finding outfits for work.

I hope this list of practical self-care tips will inspire you to find simple and effective ways to be kinder to yourself. If you are experiencing burnout, anxiety, depression or anything else, please make sure to talk to a professional.

Let me know if you have any simple ways you take care of yourself and keep burnout at bay. I’d love to hear.

Five Meditative Hobbies To Improve Mental Health

As I’ve personally delved into building a daily meditation habit recently, I’ve been thinking of all the other ways I’ve tried or have found myself meditating. Or more like, in a meditative state. I’ve noticed that I’ve felt this feeling doing other things throughout my life and know people who have experienced that same feeling doing other activities. If you find yourself having a hard time meditation while sitting still and quieting your thoughts, you might find trying these activities will help activate that sensation for you. You don’t have to sit in silence in order to experience the beneficial effects of meditation. Here is a quick list of meditative activities and hobbies.

1.Playing or Listening to Music
I played various instruments growing up, piano, guitar, flute, xylophone. It wasn’t until I got older and tried meditating that I noticed the same feeling was happening while I was playing music. Now this feeling usually didn’t occur when I was actively learning or practicing a song, but once I had learned it, there was a sense of peace that would happen when playing a song. My brain would go silent and I would just hear the music in my head and feel my fingers moving effortlessly. I’ve found this feeling while listening to music, but often times than not, just listening to music and not participating in it, doesn’t always produce the same effect. Though for many people, this is a form of meditation for them and they don’t even know it. Try picking up an instrument, or relearning one that you used to know. Listen to some of your favorite music or loose yourself in something new. Not only is it a good outlet for a hobby but over time you’ll find it soothing and relaxing to sit and play.

2.Painting or Drawing
While I have never experienced this feeling while drawing, many people do. My significant other included. He’s mentioned that when he was sketching regularly, how it was a relaxing hobby, to sit outside and sketch a dirt road or an old farmhouse. For many people this is a hobby where they find their mind shuts off and they can just create. This is another great outlet for creativity by drawing, painting, sketching, doodling, or whatever it is might be. All you need is a writing utensil and some paper. If you’re like me and you get frustrated easily while drawing, take it as another meditative opportunity to process those feelings, recognize them and let them pass. Nothing has to be perfect, just relaxing and calming.

3.Knitting, Crocheting, Embroidery, Etc.
I personally love to knit and crochet, though I usually do it while watching TV or videos. It calms a part of my brain that would otherwise become distracted from what I was watching/listening to. For some, it can be very meditative to be able to sit and have the rhythmic movement of their hands take them to a meditative state. Same with embroidery. While I have never embroidered myself and am currently waiting on a beginner kit, I absolutely love watching embroidery videos. There is something mesmerizing and relaxing about it. Finding a simple project to start you off is a great place to begin. Don’t put pressure on yourself to do really well. Just put your creativity forth and create as you see fit.

4.Baking and Cooking
I see with individuals like my significant other and my grandmother, who both enjoy cooking and baking, that it is almost meditative Especially when it’s a recipe they’ve done a hundred times. I’ve experienced a meditative state while cooking as well, where I forget that I’m cooking and find that I am fully engulfed in what I’m doing. With cooking, you’ll become focused on watching the food you’re cooking for changes, or how the bread feels under your hands, that you may enter this calm state. Many people love to cook and bake, and it’s no wonder if this is part of the activity. It can be incorporated with mindfulness meditation, where you feel the texture of the food, take time to smell the spices as they cook, and create a dish that is beautiful to look at. Leave the pressure of creating something masterful and create something you will truly enjoy.

When I thought of this one, I thought of yoga and kundalini yoga. When I was in high school, I got my hands on some kundalini yoga DVDs. They soon became my favorite thing with the upbeat music, bright colors and rhythmic breathing exercises. But really, this movement can be anything, running, dancing, gardening, walking. There are so many activities that you can use to help you reach a meditative state. I believe this is why so many people love yoga, because it not only feels great physically but mentally as well. Kundalini yoga involves repetitive movement, focused breathing and chanting that induce a meditative state while building stamina and endurance. Try them all out if you can, find one that works best for you. You’ll not only work your cardiovascular system but also your mind, both in positive ways.

I hope this list sparked a bit of creativity for you. What sort of meditative activities do you like to do? Maybe you hadn’t thought of meditation in that way before. Sometimes meditation either doesn’t suit us or won’t suit us until we can experience the same state through other activities. I hope you enjoyed this list and go forth and try out some of these hobbies and activities.

Practical Quarantine Self-Care

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.

-Accessible Hobbies

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.