How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected My Mental Health
I wake up and c̶o̶n̶t̶e̶m̶p̶l̶a̶t̶e̶ ̶m̶y̶ ̶e̶x̶i̶s̶t̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶s̶t̶a̶r̶e̶ ̶i̶n̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶e̶i̶l̶i̶n̶g̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶n̶ ̶p̶o̶n̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶w̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶ w̶e̶a̶r̶ get ready, buy a coffee on my way to work, maybe grab lunch during my break, notice the nature changing around me, then get home after the day is done.
Now, all of that is simply no more. I work a couple of jobs from home, and dedicate a big chunk of time to my wellbeing. For many of us, the pandemic brought a massive lifestyle change. Especially if you enjoy the company of other people and are extraverted (I am neither of those things).
Now, many of us are inside with our roommates, partners, pets, and families. Maybe you hate it, maybe you love it, the truth is the pandemic is (re) shaping our society and economy in so many different ways.
Today, I thought I'd share the two things that have been my answer to everything. And I mean everything - depression, heartbreak, sickness, unfortunate events. These two things are:
1. Consistency and
2. A healthy lifestyle.
Try to become an artist without practicing everyday. Try to become an athlete without stretching and doing exercises everyday. Try to get any long-lasting results or impacts without consistency and practice, and you will simply be beginning new projects always. I am very familiar with that. Consistency is hard for our brains because we perceive change as scary and immediately get thoughts like "what if my art is bad", "who even cares", and "I don't need to do this."
Then, try to be a functioning human being without getting an adequate amount of sleep every night. Try to be productive while you are dehydrated or eating shitty food all the time. Try to get out of a bad mental health spot if you are iron deficient or lacking vitamins and hormones that you may need. It all starts with taking care of your body physically, so you can take care of it mentally too.
Here are the things I do in social distancing while I am at home everyday that have helped me immensely:
- I read The New Yorker almost everyday as I've accumulated a few issues (force yourself to read something you think is not interesting - you can find a quote in there that will change your entire day)
- I am also reading classics since I believe that all the lessons about human character and human nature can be derived from timeless stories. Currently: The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck
- I write in my journal everyday, whether it's Morning Pages or Evening Pages. It's the only way I can process things and really figure out what I feel and what I need to do. Otherwise, it's a mess in my head that's very unclear. Highly recommend. Got this idea from The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron and The Holistic Psychologist
- I attended a Creative Mornings Virtual FieldTrip about the power of manifesting a while ago. Our thoughts are energy and vibrations that go out into the universe - it's up to you if what you send out is negative or positive. I have daily mantras I repeat both when I need to relax or when I am already relaxed after yoga. These need to be tailored to you and be in present tense. For example, one of mine is "I am complete," since I have been working on not relying on other people for my sense of self-worth. For money, this one is good: "I am in constant flow with abudance." Remember to thank the universe and yourself for what happens. Remember to ACTUALLY DO THE WORK like look for jobs, your thoughts are powerful but nothing without actions.
- Going outside
- Seeing the sun and feeling the warmth of it on my skin is life-changing. Whether you get seasonally depressed or feel restless inside, go outside, even if it's to sit on your patio and read a book. We really don't need all that much to feel good.
- Taking iron supplements
- Common in women, iron deficiencies can be detrimental to one's health if not caught in time. Severe negative side effects include damage to organs, poor mental health, and overall physical weakness. You may be feeling low energy because you are low on iron, not necessarily because you are lazy or depressed. Talk to your doctor.
- Taking CBD oil
- I got some from OCS just to try and it's helped me a lot with anxiety and persistent back pain. Do your research and your reading!
- Conscious eating
- Now that we are home, spending 5 more minutes on making a nice coffee or a legit lunch is a game changer for me. Instead of eating a packaged processed Costco snack for breakfast, I make a smoothie or a smoothie bowl. You literally put a bunch of fruits and healthy shit in a bowl or a blender, doesn't get easier than that. Plus it gives you an opportunity to go for a walk to the kitchen and move your body. Eating well has made me feel so much better and way more alert - what a shock!!!
- Consciousness and thoughts awareness
- One of my long term goals was to be calmer and not have breakdowns or blow up at the smallest things. Through observing my thoughts, I am very close to this goal. When something upsets me, I take a pause and see what's happening: "Why does this text give me anxiety? What is it bringing up for me? Insecurity? Am I feeling misunderstood, misheard, or unseen?" By diving deeper, we avoid getting into stupid arguments with people and preserve our sanity and nervous system - massive long term. Pick your battles - remember there is often little to be won when you are convincing someone they are wrong and you are right. Reserve your passion.
Honestly, I'm very content with my pandemic life and don't crave going out or seeing a lot of people. The transition "back to normal" is not existent because we will have a new normal. The question is how to move forward.