The last thing I want to be doing is writing about the coronavirus. We get bombarded by news about it every day, our daily lives have been drastically impacted, and people are suffering due to no fault of their own. This coronavirus pandemic is draining. It feels as though no matter where we turn, the coronavirus scourge as permeated every single part of our lives. One cannot even go outside without being impacted by the eeriness of a quiet street on a Tuesday afternoon, or the anxiety that bears down the atmosphere. People are perplexed and fearful asking themselves: How did this get so out of hand? Where is our leadership? What can I do to protect myself and my family? And how do I keep my sanity? And that is what I want to talk about in this post; How do we keep our sanity during this pandemic?
Focus on Yourself
I live by myself and have started working from home (as most people who have been fortunate enough to keep their job have been doing). My life prior to this outbreak centered around social interaction. Whether it be engaging with coworkers, going to church and other social gatherings, or spending quality time with loved ones and friends, it was seldom that I would have a majority of my day to myself unless I made a concerted effort to do so. So, to find myself now just a week and a half out from what was my normal, to be isolated, and socially distant is a radical change to life as I knew it. I find myself clamoring for ways to stay engaged, learning and reinstituting old habits and hobbies and creating space for myself to do things that I normally would not prioritize. The truth is, even though my situation may not be similar to others, the one thing that we all have in common in this time is we are all being forced to spend more time with ourselves.
Being forced to spend time with ourselves is a scary prospect for some. Some purposefully create a life that does not require them to spend any time with themselves. The reality of our existence is that no matter where we go, we always have to bring ourselves. The idea of self is pretty oxymoronic in this time where we are self-isolating and social distancing as a precaution for others. I would assert however, that now is a great time for us to work on ourselves. Now the implication behind that does not imply a necessity to improve but rather a necessity to engage. How do we engage with ourselves when we are not being over stimulated? The great thing about humanity is that we always grow but I would suggest that there is no better time like right now to change the question from am I growing, to how am I growing?
Spend your Time Well
A major concern for everyone is time. The one thing that no one seems to have enough of is time. It is the only thing that we cannot buy more of. How are we using our time during this pandemic? With most of us locked away in our homes it is easy for us to waste time watching television, and procrastinating; But what if we used this newfound gift of extra time on hour hands to do something constructive. I just want to provide a silver lining in this dire situation, and it starts by realizing the new opportunities that we have been afforded.
Maybe that new time translates into more time with family, or an opportunity to work on a pet project, or a chance to do things you may have forgot that you enjoyed doing. How we spend our time during these days is crucial to how well we each survive the quarantine. I have made an intentional point to create to do lists for myself if not every day, every week. These lists consist of things that I have wanted to do for a while and things that are newly inspired by this extra time at home. Capitalize on this moment and do not let it go to waste. That idea that you’ve had, write it down and make it plain, that business you wanted to start, do some research on it, that book you wanted to write, start; Our time is more valuable now than ever before.
Now is a superb time to invest. No I am not exclusively talking about the stock market, however I would suggest (and no this is not financial advice I am not a financial advisor), that if you are into stocks, now would be a good time to put some skin in the game while we are in a bear market. Outside of stocks and money, now is a good time to invest in the intangible. Invest into your relationships. Being willing to engage with one another allows us to keep our humanity and our sanity.
We all have the opportunity now to call and speak with friends and loved ones. Social media as our primary mode of engagement is not going to cut it during this time of isolation. No matter how disconnected we become with the advent of technology, at our core humans are social beings and its important for us to never forget that. Since being quarantined, I communicate with my close friends just about every day multiple times a day. Prior to this, we would communicate once every couple of weeks. I’ve even challenged myself to reach out to people that I would not normally engage with regularly because of the hustle and bustle of life.
It is equally important that we invest in ourselves. Do you have a regimen in place? How do you spend your 24 hours and how is that benefiting you? What will be the ROI on your time after all of this is over? All of these things are important and something that we would not normally take time to consider. I’ve been consistently working out at home, spending more time to take care of my health, and leaning into some of my favorite hobbies like cooking. Normally we allow our schedules to dictate our lives, but now is a good time to turn the auto pilot off and get back in control of our lives as best we can.
Protect your Mental Health
Depression and anxiety are two of the biggest mental health challenges most of us are facing right now. Social Isolation can take a huge toll on one’s mental health. Another side effect of social distancing is a lot of us are staying inside for most of our day. Sunlight is thought to increase levels of serotonin in people while a lack of sunlight decreases it. A decrease in serotonin can contribute to depression. Additionally, the 24-hour news cycle has become the 24/7 coronavirus live stream. While it is important for us to stay informed with what is going on regarding this virus, the news is also constantly exposing us to negative information that undoubtedly has a negative impact on our mental health. We have to be disciplined enough to take care of our mental health because our current state of being is not conducive to positive mental health.
Earlier this week, I was feeling lethargic and did not fully understand why. I came to realize that those days that I was feeling lethargic I had the news on for most of the day. Once I turned the news off I slowly but surely felt my energy coming back. What we put into us is important, and influences what comes out of us. It is important for us to make a conscious effort to get outside whenever we can, along with doing the aforementioned of staying engaged with family friends and loved ones as best we can. Depression can be insidious, and anxiety can be treacherous. I would encourage each of us in this time to identify mental health struggles that we may be facing and find the proper help, in the resources are a few suggestions for online counseling and articles on battling anxiety and depression.
Ultimately, we are experiencing unprecedented times and unfortunately it is going to get worse before it gets better. it is important that we do what we have to do to take care of ourselves, our loved ones, and those in need. If we are not in a good place we cannot help others get to a better one. Knowing how to survive the quarantine during this pandemic is essential and the benefits of doing even a portion of what is in this post will outlast immediate satisfaction and gratification. I implore each one of us to work on ourselves in this time so that we are all able to come out of this pandemic better then how we entered.