Quarantine Life Savers

Hi lovely readers,

Happy Tuesday. It’s April 30th, which means I am 24 (as of the 27th) and that we have all been in quarantine for a damn long time. I wrote about how difficult this has been for me, and I’m sure for all of my lovely readers, in a recent post. But today I want to take a more positive approach and share what’s really been helping me since I settled into the general discomfort, and, let’s be real, sadness, of social isolation.

The first thing I’m finding helpful is doing yoga every morning. I just do a 15 minute intermediate session, through an app on my apple TV, and then usually I follow that with a walk. It really clears my mind and makes me feel calm, which I think we all need in such anxiety-provoking times. The name of the app is Yoga Studio, and it’s free (at least at the beginning (I’m unsure if they begin to charge you after a month or so. It isn’t a substitute for attending a yoga class and getting to make connections, even if they’re silent, with the other yogis in the class and your teacher. But it’s something.

The second thing is that I am actually following the advice I kind of scoffed at initially and channeling some of my feelings, of which there are a lot lately, into artistic outlets, such as singing and recording music on my laptop with a microphone and mixing it using an app, I just joined an all-women writing group my friend invited me to, I’ve been experimenting with how I do my makeup again (as opposed to not wearing it at all as I had been), I’m trying to get into painting a little bit, even though it really isn’t my forte, and sometimes I just spend an hour or two looking into new music to put on my playlists.  Sometimes when I do my makeup I even make quick video tutorials to post on instagram, set to music. And, of course, I’m writing posts for this blog.

I’ve also switched up the media content I consume. That isn’t to say I don’t still enjoy watching movies with heavier content or the same…emotional music that I’ve always loved, but I’m trying to mix in some movies and music that illicit feelings of nostalgia and happiness for me. I downloaded a free trial of Disney+ recently, because Disney princess movies and some Pixar films were pretty much all I watched growing up, and it’s been really fun to kick back and get a fuzzy, warm feeling from being reminded of my happy childhood. And the animation is generally lovely, which we can all appreciate.

I have been really enjoying baking, which seems to be what everyone is doing these days based on what seems to be absent in grocery stores. Admittedly, though I am pretty recovered from my eating disordered past, it is hard seeing myself put on the quarantine weight that I know we’re all fearful of. But really, no one is seeing anyone else except in passing on the street, and it really shouldn’t matter much to anyone if we all put in a little bit of weight because it’s so much harder to stay active right now. There are a lot of great baking recipes on my pinterest, if you want to check some out. Baking is really exacting and time consuming, and then your reward is something both aesthetically pleasing and delicious.

It’s been important to strike a balance between relaxing and keeping busy. I’m finding that keeping busy most of the time helps me avoid falling into a pit of depression. But sometimes, I run out of ‘productive’ things to do. There’s only so many rooms to clean in my apartment, so many things I can write about or creative avenues to explore, so many ways to reorganize a closet. In those times, to avoid becoming really down, I like to remind myself that in times like these we are all allowed to take breaks – for one, because there is nothing we really have to be doing, and two, because this is all really emotionally draining for everyone. I admit, I’m not someone who likes napping much, but I’ve found I’ve kind of had to most days. The gravity of the global situation often makes me feel exhausted, as does boredom, honestly. So sometimes, without unmaking my bed, I lay on top of it and try to get some rest for 20-30 minutes and then go back to my quarantine life feeling refreshed and reading to keep pushing onward.

Certainly, spending time with my quarantine buddies aka my family has been really helpful, and sometimes great, but it’s also been important for all of us to remember that the situation we’re all in can make us prone to some pretty unpredictable, negative moods, and though we’re not perfect at it, we try not to take it out on one another, and when we do we apologize. It’s really hard to be entirely socially isolated, so if you’re living alone and don’t have any family close by or a roommate, please know I am thinking of you, and to reach out as best as you can to others, whether it be via zoom, skype, facetime, or even a forum or chat room online. I’ve found it really easy to fall into a pattern of not replying to people and not making facetime dates and not even posting on social media anymore, and it has not made me feel any better, I can promise you that. So now I’m attempting to break the cycle, as hard as it can be for someone with generalized and social anxiety.

Lastly, I’m trying to reflect a bit on my life, and who I am at the moment, and both improve my confidence in who I really, truly am, not who I wish I was or how I compare myself to others, as well as reflect on where I want to be in a few years or within the next year, even, and who I would like to be while I am accomplishing those things. I am trying to rediscover myself, in a sense, without putting any pressure on myself to pull a ‘new year new me’ as I often have. I mentioned making music, and that is something that I used to love to do, but had let go of entirely. The same goes for reading and writing, aside from when I’ve been doing schoolwork. But beyond that I’m trying to reflect on what is really valuable to me: which relationships, what aspects of myself I want to keep and what I want to let go of, and even my past vs. the present and the future. It’s hard for me to think about a lot of aspects of my past, even the happy ones, because they’ve been so tainted by trauma, in many forms. And often I’ve felt, when I’ve thought about what a happy, curious, compassionate little kid I was, how bright and new life and it’s experiences seemed for a long time, and how much potential people expressed thinking I had, sad, even though those are such positive memories to be grateful to have had. Sometimes those thoughts have been sadder than the ones revolving around really terrifying, violating, horrible things that have occurred. So, I am trying to reconcile all of those memories, and create a story of myself that encompasses it all without making judgments. Most of this work I am doing in my journal, and in video therapy sessions, and it is really helping me see myself not only for the accomplishments the world might find valuable, but for the things I have overcome, and the person those things have made me. Some of who I’ve become as a result of trauma isn’t great at all, but my desire to work as hard as I do on those aspects of myself speaks to the little girl I was – passionate, determined, and thoughtful. My therapist and I have talked a lot about being balanced in my perspectives: about myself, and others. So I’ve also had a few conversations, some of which I initiated and some of which others did, in which I’ve been able to give closure to others and to myself in which I acknowledge the good and the bad of the relationship, provide a thank you for what did impact me positively, and then explain that I cannot ever continue the relationship because we are both different people now and because there were some unhealthy elements of the relationships. We are all missing human connection right now, and I think this could perhaps be a wonderful opportunity to work on forgiveness. It was important for me to find my inner anger in therapy, and now I am ready to keep it for where it’s necessary but let it go inter-personally when I can and should, for my sake and in some cases, for theirs.

I don’t agree with the notion that we have to use this time to better ourselves. This is an overwhelming, sad, frustrating, anxiety-provoking period of human existence to say the least, and you are in no way obligated to consider this a time of self-improvement. All anyone needs you to do right now is your best, whatever that looks like – that can just mean surviving, frankly. But these are the little (and kind of big, actually) things I’ve found really helpful during this time, and I hope you can find some methods of growth and coping that help you to, within this post or elsewhere.

Lots of love and sending well-wishes your way,

Liz

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