I don’t know about you guys, but I have not been adapting well to self-isolation. I am extremely extroverted, and since I’ve been staying at home, I’ve slowly gotten more and more depressed and my mental health has deteriorated. I think I’ve had a breakdown seven of the twelve work days I’ve been telecommuting from home. It’s been bad enough that I haven’t been working on my manuscript and I had to give myself a “bye” from my blog last week.
The good news is, I’m coming out of it. I don’t know if I’m just getting used to it or what, but I definitely feel like I have made a few breakthroughs and discovered a few things that have helped me pull out. I definitely feel like I’m still riding the learning curve on this, but here are a few strategies that have helped me.
Let Yourself Feel
I tend to “put on a face” when I’m struggling. I expect myself to be very strong, hold it together, be resilient, adaptable, and all the while, not have a break in my happy demeanor. I’m starting to think this might not be a very healthy mindset.
This month the pressure built up and the water behind the dam pressed hard enough that I had an hour and a half long breakdown where I ugly cried on my husband from all the stress. But I found at the end of it, I felt more mentally and emotionally stable than I had in weeks.
You guys, it is normal to feel stressed and scared about stuff like this, and I found since I let these emotions run their course rather than shoving them back, I have greater capability to handle them.
Turn to Your Belief System
Everyone has a different belief system, and these systems give us structure we can rely and lean on when we feel like the carpet is being ripped out from beneath us. Take some time to engage with your belief system. Meditation, prayer, communion with the universe, whatever it is will give you a steadiness, stability, and a clarity that will help you find your inner resilience.
For me, I prayed and asked God to give me ideas on how I could help myself feel better and break my spiral. Right after I had my aforementioned enormous breakdown, I felt, literally, like the sun was coming out in my head. I could think straight. Since then, I have had ideas coming to mind on how I can help myself adjust to our current reality, some of which I have listed here!
Engage with Affirmations
We believe the things we repeat to ourselves over and over again, and because humanity tends to have a negativity bias, it is so easy to fall into a panicked, hopeless mindset.
I found that having a bunch of note cards with positive affirmations such as, “I can do hard things!” or phrases like, “Things are not always as bad as they seem” really help my mindset.
Take some time and think through encouraging things you could tell yourself as we go through this period of self-isolation and quarantine. Write them on pieces of paper, your mirror, wherever you’ll engage with them often, and then read them to yourself at least once a day. Read them enough, and you’ll start to believe them!
Plan Your Day
Something I felt inspired to do was to pick back up my bullet journaling as though nothing had happened.
While I was slipping into my spiral, my weekly spreads went blank because self-isolation knocked out any possibility of running errands that were not essential grocery shopping and I lost all motivation to try to plan anything.
So, I gave myself small boxes to check off, like “go outside for 10 minutes” or “swap a load of laundry.” Checking off these boxes gave me a sense of accomplishment, normalcy, and stability. It gave me a bit of structure in my schedule, which I felt had been completely blown apart by self-isolation.
Call Someone or Take Care of Someone Else
I saw a post online that said something like, ‘social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation’ and went on to remind people to reach out to one another.
I NEED human interaction to stay sane. Following my breakdown, I felt inspired to make a small goal to call at least one friend or family member a day.
So, I have.
It has made all the difference to hear my friend’s and family’s voices on the phone, to hear how they are doing, to express some of the things I’ve been going through and feeling, and hear them say they feel the same.
Another way to get interaction is to reach out to those in your neighborhood and offer your help. I’ve seen so many uplifting posts of people offering to leave groceries on other’s door steps or leaving notes with phone numbers in case they need someone to talk to. I’ve loved seeing these posts so much and they encourage me to think of ways I can be better at building a sense of community from six feet (or more) away.
I’ve had to remind myself several times that self-isolation and social distancing doesn’t mean I can’t go outside.
Spring is here guys. Just because COVID-19 is running rampant, it doesn’t mean spring is cancelled! Go outside and enjoy the flowers. Smell the air outside of your house. Stretch your legs. Go on a walk. The change of scenery and fresh air alone has helped ground me and remind me that not everything is bad and we are not going to Hell in a hand-basket.
Create as Though You Have All the Time in The World
I bet you were wondering when I would bring this back around to writing! Well, here it is.
Since the beginning of widespread quarantining and self isolation, there has been pressure in the writing community. People post things like, “Now is your time! Go work on your book!” or “Shakespeare wrote all of King Lear when he was quarantined for the Black Plague” and “there is a reason there was a Renaissance after the Black Death! Now is our time! Let’s do this!”
I realize this was supposed to be helpful and empowering, but for me, it wasn’t.
I have a day job, and while it is a HUGE blessing for our little family for me to telecommute, it is so hard to stare at my computer for eight hours and then continue staring at a computer for another couple hours to write. I feel as though I’ve been burning the candle at both ends and the external pressure didn’t help.
My breakdown showed me I needed to push all these external expectations off me and write as though I have infinite time. I reevaluated my daily writing goals so they felt easier to reach (and exceed!) and I’ve started to force myself to let go and just be with my story and write. This has been so much better for me than any pep talk or accidentally misfired encouragement. I actually feel like I’m making progress, too.
Friends, I believe this isn’t going to last forever. I’m convinced that as we diligently follow self-isolation and social distancing procedures, this pandemic will end. We’ll be able to return to normal life. I’ll be the first to admit I’m learning a lot about myself through this. We are being made into stronger and (hopefully) more compassionate people, but the growing process is not easy and it takes adaptation and innovation. Take this time to get to know yourself and others in a more intimate way so you can better handle the stresses and challenges of life. This road is likely to be long and hard, but it doesn’t have to be miserable.
What things are you doing to help you adapt and cope with self-isolation, social distancing, and quarantining? Let me know in the comments below!