Hi, y’all. It’s been a few weeks since you’ve heard from me. What have you missed? I turned 29 and was going to write a post about what I’ve learned so far in my 20s, but I couldn’t bring myself to finish it. And I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but we’re in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past few weeks, I’ve found myself doing a whole lotta nothing (even after my last post). My days have been filled by anxiously reading headlines, tweeting more than should be considered healthy, and struggling with insomnia. Hardly able to work (and stop snacking), my routines and habits have fallen to the wayside for my poor coping mechanisms.
The good news, though, is that: 1. I know I’m not alone in this struggle right now, and 2. I did a little research on what to do if you want to get your life at least a little back to normal during a pandemic.
A little disclaimer first: I absolutely know there’s no normal right now and that we’re all scared, anxious, exhausted and maybe several other emotions such as anger and hopeless right now. That’s 100% okay. Need to take a day off or even weeks off? Do it. This list is merely suggestions on if you’re like me and need a little more structure in your life to feel just a little saner and you’re ready to stop being a lump on the couch. Some of these things can even be done while being a lump on the couch.
Set daily goals for yourself, even if they’re extremely small
I’m someone who struggles deeply with feelings of not being productive enough or not doing enough or not doing what I wanted to with my day. It’s a common struggle that I think many people, particularly Millennial women, struggle with. Having a day wasted to mindlessly watching Tiger King is a huge hit on my feelings of self-worth. This is something I briefly covered in this post. If you’re also someone struggling with this right now and aren’t able to stick to your normal packed day of tasks right now, simplify your list. Every morning, pour your cup of coffee or tea or whatever and identify two or three small goals you feel like you can really achieve this day. It can be as simple as taking a shower. We are in emergency mode right now, writing “take a shower” on a to-do list is perfectly acceptable!
This technique is great because it can prevent you from what I call “spiraling.” Spiraling is when you feel bad about some action or inaction that you have done, so you continue on a path that will make you feel more bad about it, ultimately thwarting your overall goals and ruining your self-esteem in the process. By writing a few small attainable goals for the day, you can truly say that you’ve done something and reward yourself appropriately. Taking the time to congratulate yourself will help you in this time, especially if you’re used to being highly productive and depend on that for self-esteem boosts.
Stop reading COVID-19 pandemic headlines, or at least schedule a time to do it
Since December, I have been reading headlines and following the r/Coronavirus subreddit. Even though this helped me prepare for this pandemic and properly isolate myself as a high-risk person prior to any official guidelines to isolate, it also allowed an addiction to set in. This addiction? Reading headlines. Every morning, I have been getting up and reading headlines while the sun was rising, usually after a fairly sleepless night. Sometimes, I find myself looking around my house a full two hours later, feeling even more hopeless and anxious than before and feeling the guilt of wasting time set in.
Yet I can’t help myself. I tweeted that reading coronavirus headlines is like watching a train wreck, only we’re all on the train, and it’s true. We cannot keep our eyes off news feeds and we’re constantly bombarded by them. A mix of fear and curiosity is the perfect mix for headline addiction. We have a 24-hour news cycle and have an entire world of people simultaneously experiencing the same thing. It’s unprecedented.
Stop reading headlines for a while if it’s impacting their mental health. If you’re feeling bogged down by this mentally, take a few days off. If you feel like you want to stay in the know but don’t want it to dominate your life: here’s what I did. I always put my phone in a different part of the house to charge while I sleep, so it’s not easily accessible. Since my trigger for reading headlines is in the morning, I have replaced reading headlines with meditation and stretching in the morning, as well as journaling. At noon, I allow myself to read headlines, but I set a timer for 30 minutes. When that 30 minutes is up, so is my coronavirus pandemic news time. This has been awesome and I feel like I’ve been able to stop my obsessiveness with reading coronavirus news since implementing this.
Set a tentative schedule
Set a schedule. Any schedule. If your schedule includes laying around the couch from 9-noon, then doing one small task, then laying in bed from 3-10 pm, that’s perfect. I have written up an extremely open and tentative schedule that includes two work blocks that are to not be interrupted by social media or coronavirus pandemic news. The rest of the time? Whatever I want. Drink a beer at noon. Go outside and go for a walk. Play with your cat. Do whatever helps keep you sane during this dark time.
Check in with your friends and ask for help if you’re struggling with this pandemic
Feeling lost and struggling hard right now? Your friends are, too. We all are. Everything is difficult. There’s nothing better than having time with friends and talking about what you’re all struggling with. Heck, maybe even schedule a daily call with a friend or two to just check in with each other. Right now, more than ever, our community is here to help us and vice-versa. A warning to extroverts: do not bombard your introvert friends with your massive Facebook video chats. They are extremely overwhelming!
Learn a thing
Okay, I know a lot of people are having issues with the pressure to be productive during this time. I want to get it out of the way now that this is not from a productivity standpoint, but more of a cathartic passion project standpoint. Have you been yearning to learn a certain thing for years, but haven’t done it? Or maybe you’ve been afraid to? Or a myriad of other reasons? Now is a good time to do it. Not to be productive, but to find something you’re passionate about and have some fun. If nothing else, to get your mind off of the pandemic. There’s nobody that will be judging you right now for sucking at that thing. There are no distractions. This IS the distraction. In my opinion, there’s never been a better time to learn something you’ve been wanting to learn.
Cut your bangs (if you want)
The sentence says it all. Cut your bangs or hair or dye it or do whatever you want, if you want. Screw it. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and the only place people will be seeing you will be on Zoom meetings anyway. If you want to dye your hair bright blue and cut some baby bangs, do it up! You do you. There’s never been a better time.