7 ways to stay sane during crazy times
I never thought Corona would be such a moving force in my life. I thought it was just a good, crisp drink to have in Mexico with ten of your friends on the beach. But sadly the drink and the vacation are going to have to wait as we bear witness to the unprecedented fear and anxiety that has culminated with the rise of the coronavirus, formally referred to as COVID-19. As a healthcare professional on the front lines of this pandemic, the precautions taken by the federal and provincial governments to minimize exposure to the virus have been paramount in lessening the depletion of our healthcare resources as well as increasing the success rate of ending the spread of the virus sooner. It is so important, at this very moment in our history to band together six feet apart. Creating space is not just for middle school dances anymore guys, arms-length plus more is chic.
Time to Slow Down
Social distancing doesn’t mean distancing yourself from the things that spark joy and bring lightness and magic into your life.
Businesses, schools and provincial parks have closed; small companies forced to shut down indefinitely. Walks and hikes limited to our neighborhoods and backyards; it’s a weird, new, now-normal. We are emotional creatures and physical beasts; we crave connection beit heart-to-hearts or skin-to-skin. And while this new now-normal seems unnatural and uncomfortable to some, physical distancing is a rare and unique opportunity to slow down. An opportunity to sit at home with ourselves and lean in to love. I don’t normally thrive on big group energy anyway. I like sitting at home with Max and a cup of tea at the best of times, but I’m also not saying it’s easy at this time. I would love to stop for a coffee with a friend after work, have a regular Sunday dinner with 12 of my closest relatives or do our Wing Wednesdays with board games. Now is not the time. It’s time to slow down and take good care of ourselves. Here’s how I do it.
1. Find Good Credible News Sources to Follow… And Then Stop
It’s really important to know what is happening in the world. As a nurse, it’s my responsibility to track how many new COVID-19 cases there are in the country, any new health recommendations or travel bans. As a citizen I need to know how employment insurance is going to work for people who have lost their jobs, if there are any new guidelines for maneuvering around the grocery store, how to prevent myself from touching my face so often, etc,. We need updates to keep us safe and well-informed, but it is no secret that social media use is also associated with anxiety of many forms. When you spend your days indoors reading the updates, the death tolls, the ways in which humanity is failing, you are inadvertently failing your own mental and physical resilience.
Take 30 minutes to check the news, maybe periodically throughout the day and then preoccupy yourself with something else. Don’t worry about FOMO (fear of missing out); chances are your friends are doing the same thing you are doing at home, and if they are out doing anything else, they’re dicks.
Lean in to the moments in between the extraordinary ones, that’s where life happens.
2. Let’s Get Physical- With Ourselves
Max is a super fit, athletic kind of guy who’s always on the move. I can lift weights with tubs of ice cream. Fortunately, our coping at home has been similar and we have encouraged each other to continue moving and shaking at home. I’m lucky that he has a wrestling background and MMA-interest, he’s lucky I love yoga and we both love to dance in the kitchen. Find a way to stay active while cooped up. Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression and negative mood while also improving self-esteem and cognitive function. There are so many videos online to help support your fitness, and local businesses are uploading and hosting various online classes for free to keep you moving. Dance with your laundry, walk around the block, have sex (adhering to the limits of social distancing against anyone outside your home, of course), the choice is yours! Elle Woods did say, “exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy, [and] happy people just don’t shoot their husbands.” Enough said.
3. Woo Yourself - With Good Conversation and Food
You know that book that has been sitting on your end table for half the year? Or that list of podcasts that somehow keeps growing and you’re none the wiser? The time is now. Social distancing is giving us time to learn the things we’ve been dying to know. Life is busy and constant. Now you get the chance to learn something new about the world around you, talk yourself through it and emerge as a better you with a new perspective, and dare I say new habits? While you’re busy nourishing your mind, don’t forget your body! While it’s okay to indulge in some of your favorite comfort foods during isolation (hot chocolate and nachos anyone?) don’t forget to balance it out with some good, wholesome nutritious food that doesn’t leave your mind waning and your body sluggish. Browse Pinterest or play recipe roulette with your cookbooks and experiment! We’re big fans of sweet potato taco boats and homemade coleslaw in our house.
Limited to our homes and restricted to the confines of the walls we have rented or paid for, there really is no better time to rekindle the freedom of our childhood. Childhood is the world of miracles and magic; it is a kingdom where the sun never sets, no one dies and fires are inextinguishable. Some of us grow up and forget to have fun. Pleasure is the work of childhood, so prioritize fun! Social distancing doesn’t mean distancing yourself from the things that spark joy and bring lightness and magic into your life. So build a fort, play Sims 4 and don’t wear pants. Learn to macrame and play the ukulele badly. Life is to be enjoyed, not endured. If we take ourselves too seriously, if we refuse the right to be sensitive and unabashed we lose the essence of creativity and avant-garde idea building. We risk putting out that internal inextinguishable fire. So today and everyday, do things with childish enthusiasm.
5. Support Local
It is no doubt that times are tough for business owners. Living in a small mountain community that relies predominantly on tourism, we see first hand how foot traffic from domestic and foreign travelers determine what and how much food we put on our dinner table. We have collectively paused and yet, rent, bills and utilities continue to press on, plaguing the pockets of millions of people across the country. Small businesses provide 70% of all jobs in Canada, support local community infrastructure, fuel innovation and make up a large portion of the gross domestic product in Canada’s economy. When this all blows over, you can count on the small businesses in your community to re initiate their hard work and breathe life back into your community because A. They love you and B. They need you. So whenever possible, support local products. Buy gift cards to your favorite restaurants to celebrate later, get your favorite homegrown beer or gin delivered to your door, buy ready-made meals from shops and vendors in your town. We’re all just trying to keep afloat.
6. Reach Out
I crave emotional connection on a regular basis and while I hate to admit it, these interactions are my lifeblood. Both a wallflower and a gypsy, I enjoy the physical and social connection of only a handful of people and when you take that away from anyone, the loneliness begins to foster this false sense of insecurity, inadequacy and resentment of self that is just plain icky. My head goes grey and my heart begins to ache. Fight it by reaching out to your support team! Call or message your friends to check in and video chat with your loved ones over tea to stay connected. Set up board games over streaming accounts to battle friends! I didn’t develop in a bubble and now I am forced to live in one, but the thing about bubbles is that they are round windows of opportunity!
7. Practice Gratitude
Start and end each day with a grateful heart. I take ten minutes every morning to think of ten things that I am so thankful for. My health, my family’s safety, a soft kiss, a healthcare team that strives to make lives easier, good food, handsome boys…you get the point, give your gratitude faces! Even with the incessant negativity and collective fear there will be some kind of glimmer of hope that brings you peace. While COVID-19 sweeps across the world, places like Manila, Philippines are seeing the best air quality that they have seen in decades, rivers are running blue and abundant with life, and people are leaning in to kindness, art and so much love, even from a distance. While there are days that seem bleak and times where my heart hurts too much to get up in the morning, find something small to be grateful for. Lean in to the moments in between the extraordinary ones, that’s where life happens.