So, it's been a few days now me and my partner have been self-isolating due to COVID-19. We still go to buy groceries (trying to minimize it) and for walks (keeping the distance is important), but that is about it. Most stores and restaurants are closed where we live, so even if we wanted to do "something special" we would not be able to, and I believe it's for the best.
Even though I am an introvert, isolation hasn't been easy for me. I can only imagine how hard it must be for those who constantly need people around them to feel happy and secure. And I think it's the best time to see what we depended on the most when it comes down to our well-being.
I am going to share more of my "accomplishments" this month in my March recap blog post, but in this article I'd like to focus on my "survival" guide during this time in our lives, or should I say productivity tips. I am currently using these myself as I am working from home. I know it is easy to become demotivated and sad, not willing to do anything, so I hope these tips will be helpful.
Get ready in the morning
I spent last week in sweatpants. I barely washed my face. It was kind of a break for me from taking care of my appearance, as I thought: "oh, it is going to end soon". As I realized quarantine might take a while (nobody knows how long), this week I decided to completely change my morning routine and get ready as if I was going to the office or something. There is something empowering for me about getting dressed nicely and putting my make-up on. Perhaps psychologically I feel like I am ready for the day and I am in control. Of course, it might sound very shallow, but it helps to stay motivated and keeps me going, instead of feeling like I am lounging around all day.
I see that some people online think it's ok to press pause on a healthy lifestyle during this time, and I myself am guilty of that to a certain extent. However, I still make sure that I get my daily exercise. Remember that exercise is not only good for physical but also for mental health. It will help elevate stress levels and boost production and release of serotonin (neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of well-being, happiness, willpower and much more) in the body. Needless to say, exercise is great for keeping us healthy and strong. I have been in love with short yoga sessions every day as well as meditation. I like Boho Beautiful videos on YouTube.
About 90% of the human body's total serotonin (yes, again) is located in the enterochromaffin cells in the GI tract, so it might be that the way you feel mentally depends on how your GI is doing. What we put in our mouth impacts how we feel mentally and physically, as all healthy nutrients that we get from food make sure that our bodies function properly. My diet is mostly plant-based, so I try to get enough calories and make sure those calories come from healthy foods (grains, legumes, vegetables).
Plan ahead and organize
I am not good at planning, but I try to keep track of the main tasks I want to do on a certain day. Short-term planning gives us a perception of control (you can never be in full control), helps avoid the feeling of being lost and anxiety. It doesn't have to be major tasks, plan small activities (even if it's doing laundry, reading a chapter from a book, etc.).
When everything seems to be so chaotic, it's important to stay organized. It helps our brain stay calm and provides it with sense of control.
Go for a walk (even if it's a short one)
Fresh air is important, as well as keeping the distance. We try to take at least 30 minutes a day to simply go out and breathe. It is important for many reasons: walking is a perfect physical activity, fresh air helps clear and "refresh" the mind, being outside may ease feelings of isolation. Walking is like a restart button for my brain.
Don't overthink and don't be too hard on yourself
This might be my main advice. During these uncertain times it's easy to have thoughts like: what's the point, I don't see things getting better, what am I going to do, etc. All of these are normal thoughts, but they don’t help with our everyday lives. We should just take it slow, day by day, plan short-term and prepare mentally and physically for the next day. There is nothing we can do about the situation, so the best we can do is not to think ahead and solve problems when/if they come. I know it can be especially hard for those who struggle with anxiety disorder, I am sharing my tips for anxiety here.
Being organized and focusing on today's tasks and activities will help us get through. These were my tips for staying productive during quarantine. What are yours? Please leave a comment below. Until next time on Pillows&Trees.