10 Tips to Ease Your Mind & Soul During Self-Isolation
How are you doing? I hope you are taking care of yourself in the midst of the chaos that is the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that we are isolated right now and feelings of anxiety, cabin fever, and fear of the unknown are starting to take their toll on us. I have taken some steps to make sure that anxiety and depression do not get the better of me and perhaps these will help you too.
1. Create a schedule - Just because life is not "normal" does not mean that you have to diverge from a schedule. In fact, many of us are still working from home and it is important that you strike balance in your space since we are unable to move around like before. A recent article from the Australian Psychological Society recommends maintaining structure in your day, which includes having designated work hours with scheduled breaks for meals. Do not let household chores interrupt your working hours and vice-a-versa; when you are done working, disconnect for the day. Now, this is definitely easier said than done if you have children or work independently, but balance is key.
2. Feed your soul - Do something good for your soul, whether it is prayer or meditation, find a way to connect to something greater than yourself. Due to the pandemic, large congregations of religious services have been cancelled. However, many mosques, churches, and temples are streaming services for its congregants. If you are need of some comfort, start streaming. There are also some great apps and YouTube videos for medication. I recommend Yoga with Adriene #yogawithadriene #freeyoga
3. Prepare healthy and comforting meals - People seem to have gone panic shopping and wiped out a lot of the essential items at the grocery stores. One thing that I have noticed is that fresh produce is still available, although it is perishable, it still has a general shelf life of one week. Make sure you are incorporating fresh fruits and vegetables into your self-isolation diet. Also, if you are having trouble finding fresh dairy, eggs, and meat, try visiting a local butcher and the farmer's market. I know in New Jersey these places are not impacted by the quarantine.
Take time - God knows we have plenty of it - to prepare a thoughtful dinner. Try something new from New York Times Cooking or go to your cookbooks and finally try out that recipe you have been meaning to get to. Last week, I made this comforting Roasted Tomato and White Bean Stew from Colu Henry and it was delicious!
4. Find some joy - This is a time to really start to be thankful and appreciate the little things in life. Find some joy in your every day, whether it is being thankful that the flowers and the trees are beginning to bloom or that you have a home to be quarantined in. Try and focus on the good and positive things in life; this may mean that you have to delete all of your social media apps off of your phone if the talks of COVID-19 are getting to be too much.
5. Cultivate a hobby - I love to garden and it has been my passion for over 20 years. Now is the perfect time to start a little garden, even if you are just growing some tomatoes on a porch or patio. I recommend following Epic Gardening, he has great tips on how to plan and maintain a garden. You can also follow me on instagram where I share my gardening process every year, from seedlings to harvest.
6. Exercise - 30 minutes of movement is all you need! Many gyms are offering online classes and workouts. There are also tons of free workouts available on YouTube. A great app to try is Nike Training Club App. Also, check out Yoga with Adriene's Yoga for Weight Loss Series.
7. Reach out to family and friends - set aside at least 30 minutes a day to reach out to others. You can use FaceTime, Skype, Zoom, phone calls, and text messages. Try and maintain a connection to your friends and family so that you can be a system of support for each other. A friend and I recently had a tea date to discuss life and an Amazon series we both watched. You can also have a movie night where you watch together and eat snacks over FaceTime. I have also taken up the lost art of sending letters to friends and family - order some nice stationary and send out a little note to make someone's day.
8. Enjoy some entertainment - Of course there is Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and Disney+, but there are also books, and puzzles. Now is the time to watch that 8-season show, read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or do a thousand-piece puzzle. Find a long-term form of entertainment because we are going to be home for the next 30 days. Make sure you savor that show, puzzle, or book and don't over indulge so that you will have something to look forward to each day.
9. Create a Self-Care Tool Kit - A self-care tool kit is a series of items and practices that help you when you are feeling high amounts of stress. My therapist recommends using the seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, movement, and comforting pressure. This can include a soft blanket, a cup of herbal tea, photos of sunsets or of nature, comforting music, an essential oil or your favorite candle, a comfy rocking chair, and a weighted blanket. You can put whatever comforts you into this toolkit and even have your child/ren make and decorate their own little self-care tool kits for when they are feeling anxious.
10. Lower expectations - My therapist gave me a really helpful list of mental health wellness tips for quarantine and one them included practicing what psychologists called "radical self acceptance". Radical self acceptance is the act of accepting everything about yourself, your current situation, and your life without question, blame, or pushback. The idea is that there is no wrong way to do this because we have not experienced a pandemic like COVID-19 in our lifetime. You are doing the best you can in an unimaginable situation, so don't burden yourself with the expectation that you will get everything done on your to-do list during this time.
Please remember to take care of yourself. Practice social distancing and keep those hands clean.
Lots of love,