Wearing a face mask, sanitizing your hands, and practicing social distancing are some of the standard protocols in the New Normal imposed by the COVID-19 global pandemic
While these behaviors help protect public health by preventing the spread of the coronavirus, the matters of emotional well-being and mental health have risen to noticeable importance and demand near-equal attention. This is due largely in part to isolation from not just family and friends, but even the workplace, where many have sought security in routine as well as income.
Even as most people spend time at home with loved ones, the stress of homeschooling children (especially in the case of multiple age groups) and attending to the demands of domestic life takes its toll. Fear and anxiety, too, continue to fester among the population as virus infections and deaths hit closer and closer to home.
Now, it seems that the self-care trend and wellness industry have become a major platform for the worldwide need of mental and emotional health. Even as the psychological approach is individualistic in nature, there’s a universal aspect to the DIY format of healthy habit-building from this perspective. During this worrisome time, here are some beneficial practices to try and keep in mind.
1. Protect Your Space
It’s said that the state of your house reflects the state of your mind. With unwashed dishes in the sink, a pile of unfolded laundry, and yesterday’s coffee grounds still in the French press — you could say it isn’t looking good. This isn’t to pressure you into keeping your home spick and span at all times, but do take time to tidy up when you can. Try to break it down into manageable tasks with these tips:
- Do one chore a day. Maybe schedule to put away the plates every Sunday and bring out another set of ceramics for the week. Assign an afternoon for the garden upkeep and pick a day for bathing the dog. Have a flexible schedule but work around getting these home duties done. (Extra tip: you don’t have to do it all by yourself! If you live with others, delegate some chores to them.)
- Set boundaries. This can range from keeping work stuff out of the bedroom after a certain time to clearly communicating a 30-minute “me time” period when no one can bother you. It’s important, especially being in a small or shared space, to create delineations to the physical environment and determine a purpose for certain time periods in order to help your mind and body adjust to a routine. This will help things flow a bit more smoothly and keep your mental associations with the tangible space organized.
- Honor your body. Listen to it and the cues it gives you through physical and emotional sensations. That is, if you’re feeling tired, rest. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, give yourself a break. If you feel pain, stop what you’re doing and identify what’s causing it. This allows you to practice prioritizing your mental health and taking the appropriate amount of time to address what it needs at the moment.
Toxicity is defined as the amount of substance or exposure at which something becomes poisonous, or detrimental, to another entity. It’s a common misconception nowadays that only negative situations or factors can be considered toxic.
Excessive positivity, and even productivity, can become harmful to individuals and anything in overindulgence can very well turn into toxicity. Of course the obvious recourse would be to do everything in moderation and balance, but that’s become a cliche that’s just easier said than done. How about taking note of common sources of modern toxicity and mindfully making some lifestyle changes there?
- Consume some plant-based meals at least once every two weeks. This gives you a template for a meatless diet and allows you to get creative with some freshness and color in your food.
- Take a break from gadgets. Whether you set an alarm for as short as a few minutes or impose a no-device rule at certain hours, take this as a way to catch up with a book or spend time in nature. This can be a great opportunity to practice earthing, or grounding, whether with meditation or a quick (and safe) time out for some vitamin D and fresh air.
- Delete, mute, and unsubscribe. When it comes to social media, do an occasional audit of who/ what/ why you follow certain people or accounts. It’s becoming normal to remove or mute followers in favor of mental health without them taking it personally. Go through your apps as well, and be sure to cancel any free trials you don’t want to continue. De-clutter your email inbox and turn off notifications from apps and websites, and even unsubscribe to newsletters you never open.
3. Only Plan The Next 15 Minutes
Lastly, take a good look around and see your reality for what it is — then accept it. The world has completely changed because of the pandemic. Transportation, dining out, and working at an office are now things of the past, whether you believe it or not. It is never going to be the same again — and, yes, that’s scary, but we are all in this together.
Take heart in that you’ve survived this far, surely with challenges but also so much growth. Whenever you can, just ease up on yourself and take the credit for a difficult job done. Then when you pick up the slack to make your next move, try to just plan the next 15 minutes of your day and nothing more.
Practice taking things slowly and meaningfully, being in the present moment for even just a quarter of an hour. Sometimes, don’t plot out the next few months or even days because this pandemic has shown that everything can change in an instant. Just see where the next 15 minutes will take you and be fully present there.