I was feeling pretty stressed earlier this week about everything that’s going on. I called my sister on Facetime to talk about how I was feeling, and she mentioned that she was taking time each day to write down a few things that she was feeling grateful for. This simple act of self-compassion inspired me to write this blog post.
I’m so grateful that my job allows me to work from home. I’m grateful that I’m here with my family. I’m grateful that we have a roof over our heads and food on the table. I’m grateful for our health care workers, grocery store clerks, delivery personnel, and everyone else who is keeping things moving during this unprecedented time in modern history.
Practicing gratitude does not mean you have to be upbeat all the time. Things are strange right now, and it’s normal to ride a roller coaster of emotion (I know I am). But taking the time to think about all the things you are grateful for can help ground you when things start to feel overwhelming.
I’ve found a few techniques over the past few weeks that have helped me feel better when I’m down, and I’d like to share them with you. If you have any tips that have worked well for you, please feel free to share in the comments below. 🙂
I started meditating a little over two years ago when I was going through a bit of a rough time. My first meditation session lasted a grand total of three minutes, and it changed my life. I have been using the Headspace app from the very beginning and would never be without it. Right now Headspace has opened up some of their content for free to help people get through self-isolation, so if you’re interested I recommend checking that out. There are also free apps out there (I’ve heard good things about Calm). If you’re interested in learning more about meditation and how to get started, I recommend the book Unplug: A Simple Guide to Meditation For Busy Skeptics and Modern Soul Seekers by Suze Yalof Schwartz as a fun read to help you on your way.
Calling family and friends with a video app is a good way to stay connected. If you’re feeling down, make sure to reach out to someone. You might be by yourself but you don’t have to face this alone. You can also reach out to your connections on social media. Lots of local gyms and other groups are offering free workouts and online meetups, so be sure to check out what’s available in your area. Joining an online community can go a long way towards boosting your mood.
Not constantly checking the news
I have discovered over the past few weeks that too much news can be a bad thing for my mental health. I decided to stop continually refreshing my news feed, which has helped enormously. I try to check the news only once, later on in the day. You can’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, and you don’t need up-to-the-minute coverage. You won’t miss much by distancing yourself a little from the constant bombardment of headlines.
Although I was an avid writer as a child and always kept a diary, I moved away from this habit in my adult life. However, since self-isolation began, I’ve started writing down a few things I accomplish each day. Anything that feels like a win goes in my journal (and yes, making my bed counts). Journaling doesn’t have to take too much time – writing down something you’re grateful for, or something nice you did for yourself or for someone else, can really turn your mood around. I find it very satisfying to look back at the week and see everything I accomplished, no matter how small.
Getting enough rest
It can be tough to go to sleep when you’re feeling anxious. I use Headspace for Sleep to help me drift off in the evening. If I’m feeling stressed or worried, I also do a brief meditation before settling in for the night. Small things like dimming your computer and phone screens can be very helpful. If you’ve never established a nighttime routine, now could be a good time to start. A nice cup of tea and a hot bath could help you relax enough to be able to drift off to sleep.
Taking care of your body
I try to approach taking care of my body with a lot of self-kindness. I’m not here to tell you what to eat (or what not to eat), whether, when, or how to exercise, or anything else. This is all about you. What is right for someone else may not be right for you. Listening to your body and paying attention to how you are feeling is a great way to approach this. Personally, I have found that adding a daily walk to my routine has been a great mood booster. It gets me out of the house and enjoying the early spring weather. Be kind to yourself here, and unfollow anyone on social media who is making you feel like you have to achieve some kind of “quarantine body.” Love yourself, as you are, right now. You’re already perfect.
Working on your hobbies
Is there something you love to do, but you never have the time? Is there something you always wanted to learn? There are lots of great online classes out there on pretty much any topic you can imagine. You don’t even have to pay to learn new skills; no matter what the subject, someone has posted a video on YouTube about it. A lot of websites have made their courses free for the month of April (Nikon, for example, has made their entire online photography course catalogue available for free). Do some research on the internet and see what comes up. You may discover a new passion!
Doing what’s right for you
I’m sure there is a lot of content kicking around the internet right now about how to use your time productively and get “the most” out of quarantine. You are not on a schedule here; don’t put any pressure on yourself to achieve something. If all you’re doing is hanging in there, that’s amazing. I wish you health, happiness, and finally getting to the end of that Netflix series you’ve been meaning to watch forever. 🙂
Take care. xo – Annette