DREADING ANOTHER COVID LOCKDOWN?
Here’s How To Stay Sane And Healthy
Remember during the first COVID shutdown when everyone was watching Tiger King and making banana bread? It feels like a million years ago. But with COVID-19 rates rising, another shutdown is looking more and more likely. Of course, it depends on where you live, but most cities and large towns will probably be facing another round of self-quarantine for up to 6 weeks.
But this time will be different, since we (kind of) know what to expect. After learning some pretty major lessons about how to stay healthy and sane during a self-isolating shutdown, we’ve put together some tips and tricks to get through another quarantine without befriending your volleyball a la Tom Hanks in Castaway.
Know What You’re In For
The biggest difference between this lockdown and the last one is that now we know what to expect, sort of. Before March of 2020, most of us had never quarantined in our homes and apartments for weeks at a time. Many of us had to start working from home and homeschooling kids without any clue what we were doing!
Well, this time we’re armed with experience. So make sure to go into this potential shutdown with reasonable expectations.
If you’re like many people, quarantine wasn’t the time of superhuman productivity you (and your boss) expected it to be. But that’s completely reasonable, seeing as how we’re coping with a global health crisis and economic downturn while trying to keep our jobs and keep our kids entertained.
So this time, make sure to manage your productivity expectations and cut yourself some slack. We’re living in strange times, and as humans, we’re slow to adapt. You might struggle to concentrate and stay motivated, and that’s totally normal. We’re not meant to live in isolation, so we’re going to feel the effects of this situation. Go easy on yourself.
Humans are social creatures, and a 6 week long period of isolation can have a serious impact on our mental health. When we lose a sense of connection to the outside world of our friends, families, and neighbors, it’s easy to start a downward spiral.
When we don’t make time for social interaction, we can actually cause a Qi deficiency in our bodies. In TCM, healthy people have a well-balanced flow of Qi (the life force made up of the opposing forces of yin and yang) in their mind and body. Eating healthy food, moving your body, and keeping tabs on your emotional health can all keep Qi flowing. But when we don’t take care of our social needs, Qi levels decrease. This can lead to symptoms like:
- Physical Weakness
- Weak heartbeat
- Excessive sweating
- Swollen tongue
So this time, make sure to plan ahead to stay connected with loved ones. Schedule a weekly Zoom coffee date with your best friend, go for a (masked) walk in the park with your neighbor, or set up a slack channel for a book club with your coworkers. And if you know anyone who’s quarantining alone, make sure to reach out to them and see how they’re doing.
Just because we’re isolating doesn’t mean we need to feel alone.
Keep Things In Perspective
Many of us in the US just celebrated Thanksgiving, so being grateful for all we have should be top of mind. And going into this lockdown, that mindset is more important than ever.
Right now, many people are struggling with their health, financial status, work, childrearing, and so many other issues. But even while we’re struggling, it’s important to take a little pause and be thankful for what we do have. You can make a great difference to your friends if they are suffering- a true but minor complement has saved depressed friends at low times. So be kind.
You see, gratitude is scientifically proven to rewire our brains. The more we practice gratitude, the more our brains recognize things to be grateful for. This means we’re more likely to see the good things in life, rather than focusing on the negative things.
And in traditional Chinese medicine, gratitude can help balance our meridians and respective organs. Our bodies have energy networks running throughout them, and the pathways that connect different parts of the body are called meridians. Qi travels through meridians to our organs. Staying grateful is key to maintaining a healthy liver and kidney in TCM, because these organs are related to our emotions and energy levels. Gratitude keeps the liver and kidney meridians open and vibrant so you can manage your emotions and stay motivated.
Here are some ways you can practice being more grateful:
- At the end of every day, say or write down three things you’re grateful for that day. It could be that your partner did the dishes without being asked, or that you had your favorite latte from the corner coffeeshop. It doesn’t matter how big or small the things are.
- Write gratitude letters to friends and family and send them through snail mail.
- Keep a journal on you, or make a list in your Notes app of things you’re thankful for throughout the day0
Keep (Or Make) Your Routine
When you rarely leave your home or apartment, it’s easy to lose track of your routine. You can eat, sleep, and work whenever you want, for the most part. While this freedom might have been a bit intoxicating at first, a few weeks into lockdown and that lack of routine will be your downfall.
In the Ayurvedic health tradition from India, having dinacharya (daily habits and routines) can help us be happier and healthier. By sticking to a healthy routine of good food, exercise, and mental health habits, we can set the stage for a long, vigorous life. That way, we’re more likely to be able to fulfill our dharma, or life goals.
If you want to stay productive, sane, and physically healthy, you’ve got to stick to a routine during a COVID-19 shutdown. Everyone’s routine will look different–some people need to schedule out their days in 15 minute increments while others can have a much more fluid system. Try a few different systems to see what works for you.
Just remember to find some time for these things in your routine:
- Getting enough rest
- Eating 3-4 meals a day
- Working and productivity
- Relaxing and de-stressing
- Moving your body
If there is another lockdown, it’s not going to be easy. But hopefully, it will be worth it to get this pandemic under control. And with these tips and tricks to stay sane and healthy during this lockdown, you’re as prepared as you can be. Just don’t forget to stock up on toilet paper!