It’s August 7th and unfortunately, things have gotten exponentially worse…. in the U.S. because the rest of the world has generally gotten their shit together.
As things continue to worsen and we wait for the ticking time bomb that is K-12 schools and universities opening for F2F instruction… prior to having a vaccine, there honestly doesn’t seem to be a real end in sight (unless I move to Canada, and I may or may not have been researching how to become a Canadian citizen).
Most of the time, I’m ok with this. I’m a big girl, I understand that life is hard, things happen, “it is what it is” (barf), but there are some days where the realization that I’ll be living through these Covid times indefinitely, truly knocks the wind out of me.
While I’m generally a home body, I do like the option of being able to leave my house. I miss being able to visit family and friends without worrying about infecting each other. I miss the gym, and coffee shops, and Marshall’s, and thrift stores. I could go on and on about what I miss, but I’ll spare you since I’m sure everyone has things they’re missing right now.
On these hard days, and throughout the pandemic in general, I’ve tried to find ways to feel somewhat “normal”, and luckily with the help of my therapist and suggestions from friends, I’ve felt ok most days and I don’t curl up and cry on the floor for hours on the hard days either (even though a good cry is always good for the soul).
So, I thought I’d share my tips.
Being a teacher and all, it’s in my nature.
1. Tip 1: Keep a loose schedule
In the beginning of the pandemic, I found that I was trying to just go with the flow. I didn’t have any sort of schedule and I quickly learning that everything just started to blend together, in a negative way. When you come from a structured life style, i.e. teaching classes, waking up, eating , working out, dissertating, etc. all at a set time, having no structure feels hard after a while! So, I created a very loose, very flexible schedule, as I found it gave me something to look forward to, while helping my life to feel more normal. For example, my days are generally: wake up around 7:30/8, listen to a podcast or two while eating, from 9 until 12 it’s open to what I want (maybe running, going for a walk, reading, cleaning, etc.). 12:30 is lunch followed by coffee and a dessert. 1-5 I try to complete some school/work related tasks. 5:30-6:30 I cook and have dinner. After dinner, we might go for another walk… or another dessert. I might dance to ratchet music for 20-30 minutes (also good for the soul, trust me), or I might do some things around the house. 9:30-11:30 I watch Netflix. So as you can see, it’s super loose, and the only things that are truly set are my meal times… otherwise I’d be eating constantly all day. The first month of covid, we spent about $600 on food….for two people…. and our budget is 250-300 a month #yikes. By having some things to look forward to though, it helps my days to run a bit smoother. But let’s be honest, we all know it’s the dessert after lunch that keeps me going LOL.
2. Tip 2: Find you hobby
Considering the way American culture and society is set up (insert side-eye here), our lives are often centered around work/school and other obligations, and we rarely have time to pursue other things. Therefore, I’ve tried to really take advantage of having to be home by incorporating some old hobbies back into my life, and even trying new ones. I’ve been flying through angsty Mangas and Animes and repurposing/revamping thrifted furniture/ people trash.
I even made a children’s book for my nephew centered around him and my sister!
I’m also trying to expand the inventories of bread I can make. I’m happily at a solid 1.5 different loaves. I say 1.5 because the second type only comes out well 50% of the time LOL.
There are so many things you can do such as an online cooking class, a Zoom paint-with-a twist, drawing, photography, running, gardening, learning a new language or skill, becoming an indoor plant mom, etc.
I am especially biased towards activities that involve moving the body. NUMEROUS studies (no I’m not looking them up/linking them b/c I do enough of that as an academic, so you can look up studies yourself!) have found that exercise helps with anxiety and depression (I can attest to this), with mental clarity and focus (I can also attest to this), it helps you sleep better, and it also helps with your immune system, blood pressure, and hormone regulation. My moods are always consistently better when I exercise vs. when I don’t. When I don’t I can become a crazy bish….
3. Tip 3: Take social media breaks
I do this and I have several friends who do this as well. Yes it is important to be connected and social media can facilitate that. However, it is extremely important to monitor/control what we consume. The world, especially the U.S. is NOT a pretty place right now. Our feeds are filled with Black men and women losing their lives to police, families being ripped apart due to Covid-related deaths, thousands of deaths in Lebanon, a humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and the list goes on and on. Taking breaks from constant exposure to that is crucial to maintaining our mental health. I know it’s easier said than done, and studies have shown that social media is a literal addition, but I find that it helps to set small goals, which can be done easily with i-phones. Simply set a limit to the amount of time you’re able to use social media apps (through the i-phone settings), and it will lock you out of the app once you reach that time limit.
4. Tip 4: The Calm app
I cannot express how in love I am with the Calm app. I believe it’s $70 a year but given that I use it everyday, that’s essentially .20 cents a day. Trust me, it’s wellll worth it. The app includes things like guided meditations, bedtime stories, daily mood check-ins, sound scapes, 7-days of gratitude, and help for anxiety, confidence, relationships, stress, emotions, etc. etc. TBH, you should have bought it when I said .20 cents a day! This app helped me through graduate school as I struggled with stress, anxiety, and sleep deprivation, and it continues to help me with those same things as I transition into a new work environment and of course, Covid.
Lastly, I’m not sure whether this is a tip or not due to its broadness but, if I’ve learned anything from all of this craziness, it’s to do things meaningfully and with intention. It’s soooo easy to agree to 1000 Zoom get-togethers when you’re not interacting with other humans, but it gets to a point where we’re just doing things to do them. Like social media. We scroll just because. We binge shop online (maybe just me…), we watch a million shows on Netflix, we eat ALL the cookies/make constant trips just because. Although it’s not easy, I try to be in tune with myself and my needs by being present, and asking myself WHY. Why are you going in the fridge again, Sherez? Are you hungry, or eating to eat? Why did you say yes to that Zoom hang out when you just spoke with that person two days ago (what could have possibly happened in two days during Covid LOL).
I do slip up, often, but I try my damn best. Trying helps me to make it through the hard days, and it makes the other days as close to normal as it’s gonna get, for now.
Any who, I hope this is able to help someone out there in the black void that is the internet.
Goodluck my friends! Sending back the love + light that I’ve received from so many of you. We’ll get through this, poco a poco, and we are in this together…… despite American society’s push for individualism (*cough, cough*).
Until the next one!
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