COVID-19 · Mental Health

How to Stay Sane During COVID-19

How is everyone doing? It’s been a long time, and some crazy things have been happening in the world today. Y’all know what I’m talking about – COVID-19, aka the coronavirus pandemic.

By now almost the entire world is isolated in quarantine – err, supposed to be – to help stop the spread of the virus and further infect more people. What does this mean? The people should be staying home, not going out and being away from people. No loud roaring engines of cars racing on highways, and no people filling the streets in ruckus. It’s almost as if the earth is slowly but surely starting to stand still in peace and quiet.

042620 - Phoebe Plan Gif

So, how many of you are coping well with being in isolation? Is it easy? Hard? Going crazy yet? I’ve talked to and seen posts on the Internet and social media of people struggling to be still and confined to their homes. Must be you, extroverts, who need to go out and do something and be around people. That’s not me saying that as a stab to the way y’all live your life, but the struggle can be real.

For me, this is my normal – well, maybe not normal, but my dream? People who know me call me a busy body, always out and about going to events, meeting people, hanging out with people, but honestly I fake it all. It’s an obligation to go out and be social, when in reality, it’s my preference to stay home alone and do whatever the hell I want.

Silence and Indiffernce - Gundham Tanaka

My point: this isolation phase is cake to me.

Why am I making a big deal about it? Because I want to share my personal tips on how to maintain your sanity and not crack under the pressure of quarantine.

Here are five things you can do to occupy your time and put your mind at ease while COVID-19 passes:

  1. Take breaks throughout the day.

It sounds silly to point out, right? This quarantine is already like a long break from life, but that doesn’t mean we can’t stop what we’re doing to spend actual quality time with ourselves. Many people have transitioned to working from home, and on top of that, children are being schooled at home now. With this new normal, we’re all running on different schedules, filled brim to brim from daylight to moonlight.

To avoid turning into sluggish stone, leaving a permanent imprint on my work chair, a few times a day I force to get up and go walk around, get a snack and refill my water. Maybe even step outside to soak up some Vitamin D from the sun. There are studies that show Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression, so it’s a great idea to keep that depression from developing more than it might already be.

042620 - Jim Carrey typing

It may seem efficient to stay of focused on what we’re doing for a long extended period of time, but taking breaks and getting up to let your brain rest, even for a little bit of time, can rejuvenate energy for better results. Our mind and our bodies grow tired the longer we stay in one place, so give yourself breaks!

  1. Do the things you love.

Are there things on the back-burner list you previously wished you had more time to do but couldn’t find time to do? Now is that time to do it. Even with a normal workday, we don’t have to go out for dinner in evening or happy hours and drinks at night nor attend any social events we “have to make an appearance at.”

Those excuses are out the window, and it’s time to schedule those back-burner activities into your life. I know some people, including myself, who have our days segmented and labeled out for the tasks we want to get done for the day. Putting in the effort to organize your day can help tame the chaos of juggling many things at once and not knowing which one to tackle first, and without realizing it, by placing things in order, you’ll inadvertently establish priorities.

042620 - Daily Schedule example

For me, as much as I love video games, I struggled to set aside time for them and I’d be late in the game (badumts) in buying the latest releases – but I do keep up with all the news! That all said, because of surgery recovery and then the pandemic following, I’ve dedicated many hours to play Catherine: Full Body, Persona 5 and Final Fantasy VII Remake. The immersion into these alternate universes and stories, especially a nostalgic one as FF7R, has fulfilled me and distracts me from my anxiety and negative thoughts.

If planning is not your thing, you can simply make a conscious effort to pick up whatever it is you want to resume. The goal is to do something for yourself, something you love and gives you joy that you might not have had the time or dedication to do. Most days, we spend much time serving someone else, which is not a bad thing, but we forget to serve ourselves in the process. Do what makes you happy, too.

  1. Pick up a new hobby.

On the other side of the coin, we can also practice new hobbies! Just like the things we love to do, there are probably activities we wanted to pursue, but due to our busy lives, they got stuck on the back burner – or maybe in the back of the freezer, and you forgot you put it there.

With all this newly found free time, it’s a beneficial space to find a new hobby that interests you. If I may be grim for a minute, it’s unfortunate people have lost their jobs, as well as local businesses going out of business, which means right now, it seems as though companies are not hiring as fast a pace as previously. So, this might be a fruitful opportunity to develop a new skill or start new projects to occupy time until we return to our lives.

Everyone and their mom have become content creators, exponentially flooding the digital landscape. From baking bread from scratch (like everyone at the grocery stores) to picking up a guitar and learning chords and songs (like my adorable father) to starting a new podcast (like myself) to streaming on Twitch TV (like 2/3 of people I know), the Internet transformed into a playground for new kids to play into the mix. By setting a goal to achieve a new skill or proficiency in a hobby, that feeling of accomplishment fills your brain with endorphins, which leads to happiness. Not only that, but you can potentially produce a product you can be proud of, and it would serve as a memento for these hard times.

What are some skills you want to develop for yourself? Leave comments to this blog and give me and other readers some ideas! (Lowkey, should we all learn to sew and make face masks for the hospitals and for those who need them, am I right?)

  1. Stay positive.

There have been news reports from the mental health professionals and organizations, like National Alliance on Mental Illness, that mental health issues have spiked since the pandemic hit. Anxiety and insecurities are flying through the roof with the amount of uncertainty for the future, people are consuming more alcohol, cases of domestic violence have increased at an alarming rate, depression is developing faster and more.

With the media and government officials showcasing the declining condition of the world in rising death tolls and cases of COVID-19, it’s VERY easy to let our minds absorb that negativity and apply it to our lives. We start speaking negatively, thinking negative thoughts and lose hope for a positive outcome and future. I’m no exception to this as I preach it in this blog post – it’s a daily struggle to wake up and have a positive mindset and then fight the temptation of my addiction.

042620 - Legoshi smile

What’s important is that we address and acknowledge those dark thoughts, not deny or suppress them, and breathe. It’s good to express how you’re feeling, so it’s not weighing heavy on your mind. Once we can set our feelings out on the table, we can think about the good things we do have in our life – count our blessings – and remember to be grateful for them. (And don’t forget to pat yourself on the back in praise for the accomplishments of your new hobby!) Practice gratitude, and don’t take the things you have for granted.

  1. Stay connected.

This is probably the most important thing to do during this pandemic: stay connected. Just because we’re isolated from the world doesn’t mean we can truly isolate ourselves from our loved ones. We live in the digital era and have new technology at our fingertips to stay in touch with family and friends, so is there really any excuse we shouldn’t reach out?

Not only can we stay connected with the people we know and love, but we can connect with new friends as well. As a gamer and Twitch TV streamer (on hiatus) who is active on various social media platforms, meeting and talking to people online is a normal occurrence. Some of my closest friends I’ve met through gaming, and we have made an effort to keep in touch, catch up and “hang out” throughout this pandemic. In the midst of social distancing, I’ve also made some new friends as we bonded over things we have in common, such as writing, video games and anime.

Here some of the tools/apps I use to stay in touch:

Whatever your preferred way of communication is, check in on the people you care about, let them know you’re okay and well, and be sure to tell them you love them every chance you get. Many families and friends have lost someone they cared about due to the virus, so never forget to carpe diem and love whole-heartedly.

**For a condensed format, I’ve created an infographic with all the content here. Visit my new “Downloadable Media” page to download it!

3 thoughts on “How to Stay Sane During COVID-19

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