Please note these are well-intentioned ideas to help you find some calmness and reduce stress. I’m not a medical professional. If you are having depressing or distressing thoughts please consider contacting a medical professional.
We have every right to feel anxious, stressed, crazed, depressed, etc. during this international pandemic. It’s a crazy, unthinkable world we could never have imagined. Everyone’s situation is wholly unique and complex, but what’s most important is putting your health (physical and mental) first. Financial concerns, anxiety over the health of yourself and others, and even simple things like boredom are all normal feelings. This is not an all-encompassing list, but here are 10 ideas that are worth trying to find a little more balance in your life.
Keep a routine
This is the number one thing that can keep you sane and balanced, and also the most difficult. Even though the world has turned upside down, your body is still used to a clock. Try to get up and go to sleep at the same time. If your body is used to working out, continue your workout regiment to the best of your ability.
Make time for yourself and keep your own space
Being on lockdown/staying at home in NYC is an exercise in patience and relationship testing. I’m fortunate enough to have a one-bedroom apartment, so my husband and I can split our workdays separately. Having your own space when you are spending 24/7 around a spouse/child/roommate can be hard, but you should try and make the effort.
Get outside when possible and at a safe distance from others
Make it a goal to go outside at least once a day. If you are in a populated area, try and choose a less busy location. Choose an off-hour to run groceries or errands. Try to “take the long way” or add in a further walk on your way to your destination. For me, taking the dog out is the perfect excuse to get some air. When outside, take into account your distance from others and keep at least 6 feet away.
Exercise is critical. Even if you aren’t a runner, now is the time to embrace something new. It gets you outside and moving, which in turn will make you feel and be healthier. If running isn’t your thing try a jog with walking spurts or power walking. Inside, try new apps and videos to keep you motivated. Studios in NYC are now hosting live classes on Instagram or through their studio websites. My personal favorite is Modo Yoga NYC. They have multiple classes a day covering yoga or meditation, all donation-based.
Mindfulness is important for mental health and reducing stress. For many people (including me) it can be challenging, made even more difficult by being in a small apartment in a new, crazy world. Find time to sit, isolate yourself, relax and embrace the thoughts with a calm head. Try meditation apps (such as headspace) or free meditation classes (Modo Yoga NYC on Instagram) to get you in the right state of mind. I’m not a candle person, but I’ve been using them recently as some of the scents can be very relaxing.
Keep in contact with friends and family virtually
Just because we need to stand 6 feet away from each other and not congregate in large groups doesn’t mean we can’t still socialize. Facebook group video chats are an easy and fun way to connect with people. You can even put silly and fun filters on. Another app to try is “HouseParty”, a video chat app with games that is great for groups.
Limit your news intake to a healthy level
There is definitely a time and place for the news, and we should all stay informed. However, it can get overwhelming depending on how much you watch and read. Don’t let it seize control of your day. If you find yourself spiraling down a series of negative thoughts (and it’s easy to these days) take a break and do something else.
Find creative outlets
This is that “silver lining” that can be really hard to see. Now you have time to read that book, write that novel, learn a new language, take an online class, etc. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated, but I would recommend not thinking too much about it. Just start it and see how far it takes you.
Consider buying or adopting a pet – if it fits in with your lifestyle
I don’t know where I would be without my dog. Not everyone is a pet person, but if you are, now is the time to get one. It doesn’t have to be a dog or cat – it can be something smaller. Finding some type of life that you can connect with and care for is important in times like these. Not to mention, you certainly have the time to be there to train and care for your pet. For those not into animals, even a house plant can bring some light into your surroundings.
Be open to new things. Be empathetic.
Being open to new experiences is an important and extremely difficult mindset shift. Humans are creatures of habit and drastic change that is sudden and not expected (or wanted) is even more difficult. However, it’s important at these times to be accepting of the circumstances. Be informed about why it’s happening and empathetic. The value of human life outweighs everything. Try your best to manage your own unique situation.
As a community, we need to lift each other up. If you are inclined or able to, try volunteering, giving blood, or reaching out to your elderly neighbors. I volunteered to pick up items and run errands for my apartment building residents that aren’t able to. Doing good in times like these not only helps other people around you but will mean a lot to you as well.