If you feel like you’re going stir crazy, you’re not alone. Quarantine is tough for a number of reasons, like not being able to leave the house, or go to restaurants or see your friends. Few of us have ever experienced a pandemic of this magnitude, which only exacerbates the difficulty in these unprecedented times. We are truly in unchartered territory and as such, navigating your way through these turbulent times can be tedious, daunting and downright overwhelming. Between loneliness, boredom, and cabin fever it can start to feel like you’re losing your grip on reality and on your sanity. Getting my stress to a manageable level was very difficult for the first two weeks of quarantine. Although with so much uncertainty and changes, the stress manages to resurface every now and then. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing, how they’ve helped me and what I’ve learned along the way.
It’s understandable how difficult this is, as we all had plans (weddings, vacations, graduations, proms, etc) that have been postponed or canceled. It is frustrating, sad, and disappointing. With that being said, the sooner we all accept the fact that this is how things are and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, the better. This will not last forever and it is temporary. This too shall pass. Try reframing your point of view and focus on the positives. Being ‘stuck’ at home is an incredible luxury. According to an article by Yale University, more than 20 percent of the global population either has inadequate housing, or no housing at all. At the same time many people who do have adequate housing can’t afford to stay at home and must continue to go to work.
One of the things I quickly realized was the importance of having some sort of routine. According to an article by Piedmont Healthcare, the benefits of a routine include making better decisions, reducing stress and getting a better night’s sleep. Prior to being in quarantine, it never dawned on me that even if I didn’t have anything on my schedule, there were still numerous reasons to get out of bed. Businesses were open, there were things to do and places to go. Seeing as how that is no longer the case it has become all too easy to lose the motivation to do anything with your day. There are always things that need to be done around the house (showering, laundry, cooking, cleaning). No matter how simple it may seem, putting things on your calendar is incredibly helpful in keeping spirits up and retaining motivation. Set goals for yourself throughout the day and check them off as you go, you’ll feel great. Although at the same time, if you don’t get everything accomplished don’t beat yourself up. It’s just as important to not be too hard on yourself!
Reduce Negative Stimuli
It’s very important to remain cognizant of what you’re consuming (books, tv shows and movies) as they could be taking a heavy emotional toll on your well-being. You may have been wanting to watch a documentary on endangered animals or catch up on the last season of ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ It’s important to keep in mind that many of us are already emotionally vulnerable during this chaotic time, so it might be best to wait until we are out of the woods with this quarantine. Limiting my media consumption in general has helped me tremendously, especially when it comes to the news. I think it’s important to remember that you don’t have to be tuned in to the news cycle 24/7. If something significant happens chances are you’ll hear about it. In my opinion the ‘information’ provided by the news provokes more anxiety than it’s worth. In fact, a survey from the American Psychological Association showed that out of the 95 percent of adults that follow the news regularly, 56 percent say it causes them stress.
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The one thing that has brought the most improvement to my sanity during the pandemic has been exercise. Whether it’s a bike ride, a walk after dinner or dancing to my favorite album, movement has been my biggest savior. Improving your mood, combating disease and prolonging life expectancy are just some of the benefits of exercise according to the Mayo Clinic. Everyday I do one hour of yoga, specifically Kundalini, the most ancient and pure form of yoga. It combines mantras (words or sounds repeated to aid concentration in meditation) and breathing exercises with physical poses. Kundalini continues to be my go-to when it comes to exercise. The most welcomed benefit it’s given me is a healthier state of mind. I’m level headed, have more energy, worry less and am able to maintain a sense of inner peace. In just 60 minutes a day I am able to achieve a disciplined cardio, stretching and weight-bearing workout, as well as a focused meditation. Stress and anxiety are reduced, while the vigorously focused breathing practices oxygenate the blood and increase blood flow to the brain. It provides me with sustained energy throughout the day and allows for a more consistent sleep pattern. One of the primary reasons that I love it so much (besides the great benefits) is how accessible it is. All you need is your body, some floor space and something to lie on (yoga mat or rug). All of the exercises use your own body weight and there are always modifications available to those who need it. Albeit if yoga is not for you, there are plenty of other ways to exercise. Get creative with it and do something that’s fun that get’s your body moving! I love any form of exercise that does not require a gym!
Restructure your ‘To-Do’ List
Seeing as how time is no longer of the essence, now is a perfect time to do things that may have been on your to do list for quite awhile. Learning a new skill, trying new recipes or starting that project you’ve been putting off are great ways to take advantage of the fact that you literally have nothing but time on your hands. Use the absence of deadlines to your advantage. If you’re fortunate enough to get to stay home, the abundance of free time provides ample opportunity to do things you don’t normally have time to do. Lose yourself in a good book, reorganize your house, learn new skills, catch up on home maintenance projects and set aside entire days of self care. The possibilities are endless.
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When COVID-19 really started to affect the US, I was rattled, and even more of a train wreck than usual! Everything escalated so quickly I had trouble keeping up with all the changes. I was overwhelmed and didn’t know what to do. I went from busy 15 hour days to nothing in the blink of an eye. After a week of trying to process and accept the fact that quarantining was going to be the new normal for at least a few months, I realized that major changes needed to be made. After discovering and implementing everything mentioned above, I quickly found a new lease on life. I’m now able to function (in the short and long term) with a balanced and healthy mentality. Lord knows the path to serenity certainly wasn’t an easy one. It may seem like life has become unstimulating and boring, and at times it will be, but we can harness this opportunity to embark on exciting endeavors as well. Hopefully things go back to normal soon, but in the meantime just ‘do you.’ Be good to yourself by upping your self-care while keeping yourself somewhat accountable.
Featured Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash