Since the outbreak of the cataclysmic pandemic, the news has been all doom and gloom. In the face of such heartbreak, coupled with the loneliness of self-isolation, it is easy for even the most optimistic of us to lose hope.
You turn on the local news and all you hear is how this virus is wreaking havoc, claiming thousands of lives by the hour, crippling economies, and might even change the way we live and work forever. One cannot help but stay fixated on these calamities but know that these thoughts are highly counterproductive and would take a toll on your mental and physical health.
While it’s natural to want to know everything about the pandemic to become a COVID-19 expert and protect yourself, you don’t need to hear every nitty gritty detail from dawn to dusk. Instead, I urge you to stay positive so that you can weather this storm. If self-isolation is weighing you down, here are a few things you can do every day to stay motivated and find time for self-care, laughter and distraction.
Binge Watch Happy Shows
The world is a pretty sad place these days, but Netflix can help us escape reality for a while. There are countless shows and movies that can help alleviate anxiety, while away your self-quarantine time and generally bring a bit more joy into a dark world. If you are looking for happy shows to binge-watch, here is my personal list to help you stay motivated:
Parks and Recreation: Not even a pandemic can stop Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler). NBC’s workplace sitcom is an inspiring show, full of good people trying to do good things.
Fixer Upper: Chip and Joanna Gaines, their can-do attitude, adorable pets, and cutest kiddos might be exactly what you need to get through a tough time. You might even try out a thing or two from their home renovation ventures.
The Good Place: When Eleanor Shellstrop lands in the “good place” in the afterlife, she realizes she’s there by mistake. This comedy show is the testament to the fact that it’s never too late to change for the better.
The Office: The show follows awkward and helpless regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) as he constantly annoys his employees while trying to impress them.
Black Books: Watch as the Bad-tempered, wine-guzzling bookshop owner accidently hires the always positive, full of life Manny as an assistant and roommate.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: After being rescued from her 15-year captivity, Kimmy Schmidt tackles living in New York with a naive yet fun approach to life.
One Day At A Time: Take a peek into the life of a Cuban American family trying to overcome everyday obstacles as the newly single army veteran Penelope attempts to raise two strong-willed children with the help of her traditional mother and her building manager.
Schitt’s Creek: With plenty of laughs, watching the Rose family adjust to non-extravagant living in close quarters, reflects these self-isolating and anxiety-inducing times.
Structure Your Day
For busy-bodies and social animals, social isolation could lead to depression and anxiety. A study conducted on individuals who spent a winter in a polar research station shows that confinement and long-term isolation can lead to severe psychological issues, trouble sleeping and concentrating, feelings of restlessness or sadness and depression.
In order to combat these problems, you need to structure your day to maintain a vestige of normalcy and mark the passage of time. For instance, setting a schedule for mealtimes and a set bedtime can help you to stay on track. If you are working from home, try to start and finish at your usual time so that you don’t end up working too many hours. Remember to take regular breaks and put away your laptop at the end of your shift so that you know that it is “time to go home”.
Maintain Social Contact To Stay Motivated
One of the most common reasons for anxiety and depression among people is that they cannot draw on the support of family or friends to get through these tough times and vent out their concerns and worries. Even though the current pandemic is keeping us apart from our support systems, we can still keep in touch via social networks or our phones. Instead of wallowing in sadness or turning to alcohol as a coping strategy, try calling up a friend or join in a discussion on some forum. Reaching out to a loved one is better for your mental health than having a glass or two of wine in a bid to block out your troubles.
If you miss hanging out with your work buddies, schedule some video calls with colleagues and contacts throughout the day. Some home-workers even work in chatrooms or “virtual water coolers” with colleagues for that truly “social” office feel.
Focus On Your Health
Without a doubt, isolation and quarantine can be quite stressful, and stress does nothing more than weaken our immune system. This is a time when being proactive about staying healthy becomes all the more important. Boredom leads to excessive eating, so try to stick to regular meals with the right nutritional variety and avoid snacking. Not to mention, people tend to eat more when anxious, so avoid opening your refrigerator every five minutes.
Daily exercise will help you keep in shape and even regularize sleep patterns which boosts psychological health. Since your local gyms might be shut down due to the pattern, look up fitness videos on YouTube to know how to work out at home.
If you are working from home, make sure you’re not spending long, intense hours completing your work without moving. Take regular breaks and try to incorporate some exercise in between your work breaks.
Manage Your Media Consumption
If there was one thing, we learned from the Zika virus, it was that consuming too much media in a crisis situation is associated with increased levels of experienced stress and anxiety. First things first, restrict your consumption of news and avoid turning to social media for prognosis, cure and prevention of the pandemic. Instead try to depend on traditional national media with direct lines to the trustworthy medical decision-makers when accessing news.
Shift Your Perspective
AS John Milton Said, “The Mind is in its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” In the face of tough times, people find it easier to remember bad things than good. Harvard Professor Shawn Achor discovered that half of his students tended to focus on stress, exams, workload, or on no longer being top of the class, when unhappy.
Today, I want you to start a gratitude diary and at the end of each day, list down all the good things that transpired throughout the day and things you are thankful for, and eventually you will find the silver lining even in these dire times: such as less pollution, less food poisoning, more family time, proof that home working can work!
Reach Out To A Virtual Community Via Hashtags
During self-isolation, hashtags have turned out to be an ultra-accessible way to reach out to a virtual community that will know exactly what you are going through. Here are a few hashtags to keep you connected with the outer world, whether you are looking to work out at home or de-stress with a one-hour @Houseparty dance marathon:
- #StayAtHome: This empowering hashtag reminds you why you need to unite internationally to curb the spread of COVID-19.
- #DancersOfInstagram: If you are looking to boost your mood, why not schedule a Houseparty dance marathon?
- #PlantsMakeMeHappy: If you are in isolation, chances are that you haven’t been in touch with nature for a long time. Harness the calming effects of greener scenes and learn how to grow your own plants from a global community of plant lovers.
- #AtHomeWorkouts: Garner access to over 485,000 DIY workout videos on Instagram – from high intensity interval training (HIIT) to strength training. No need to become a lazy couch potato if your local gyms are sealed off.