So you’ve got your food in order and are ready to hunker down with the roomies or solo. 4 more weeks of isolation— what is that, right? But the truth is, this is a pandemic. You’ve got through 1 week what’s a few more? This may be your new normal. To survive and thrive through it, you’ll need to feed your mental health too.
As you enter times of self-isolation, taking care of your mental health is more important than ever. Truly preparing for a pandemic means preparing for long-term changes, which might include how you access therapy or if you access it at all. But, in this case, may be you have to learn how to take it day by day.
That doesn’t mean resigning to hopelessness. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and peace activist, once said, “Humankind’s survival depends on our ability to stop rushing.” It means we owe it to ourselves to be patient — with ourselves and each other.
1) Ground your Anxiety
Practicing mindfulness and grounding techniques is useful to help us be present in this way. It doesn’t help to be overly panicked about the future, which we can’t really control. The truth is that it’s totally appropriate to feel everything you might be feeling right now. Let your most fearful, anxious self’s voice speak, and respond kindly to it. Don’t let it control or determine your next steps.
2. Avoid positive productivity
This is not the time to be hard on yourself for lack of productivity, executive functioning, or lack of exercise. In fact, it’s not the time to suddenly try to fulfill your dreams and cross every big thing you’ve ever wanted to do off your mental to-do list.
Just because you have more “free time” doesn’t mean you have to accomplish anything at all. Grind culture or positive productivity might actually be toxic right now.
3. Lean into compassion for others
Yes, self-care is more important now than ever, but recognize that the way we choose to live now will directly impact how another may have to live forever. Simply practice prevention! Be kind to others. We are ALL going through this.
4. Set boundaries and hotlines for yourself
There are plenty of ways we can take care of ourselves individually so that we can maintain morale to continue taking care of each other. One way we can help ourselves and our mental health is by setting boundaries, which might look like setting your phone aside so you’re not available for texts 24/7. It might mean introducing a routine with intentionally scheduled video chats and phone calls with friends and family. It might also mean having the number of the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) to call when you’re having intense emotions/feeling/thoughts.
5. Prioritize self-care
Between staying updated with the world and taking care of ourselves, it’s also important to give space (sometimes more than 6 feet) to others, to breathe deeply and exist.
Take the time to pause. Make playlists to help you cope with specific moods and feelings. Make sure to get dressed every day. Create a routine that helps you not hinders you. Get enough sleep. Now is the time to catch up on last sleep from always on the go, go, go. Stay hydrated. Keep up with personal hygiene. Take a shower folks! Open a window to breathe once in a while, if you can’t go out on a walk. There’s even online therapy to consider.
This is all very important for surviving these times.
6. Focus on your connection to others
Constantly worrying about the future won’t actually do us any good. There’s only so much we can control right now. We cannot control the virus or physically stop those we know and love from getting it. Everything may collapse, but that’s not what we are in control of.
What we are in control of is our connection to others, that we are all responsible for each other. That’s what we can control: how we treat each other, if we are kind to each other through prevention tactics or through the ways we shop.
Take it day by day, but not alone
More than ever, we have to learn how to take life day by day with others in mind. Don’t forget there are other people in isolation too.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you are in this alone.
Instead, slow down and think about the long lasting effects of our actions, which we can control. When all this is over, you may find comfort in how you took a stand to make the world a better place for both yourself and others.