Make your stay-at-home a time to remember
By Kayce Tiongson
Since the global outbreak of COVID-19, people have gone through different levels of panic, anxiety, and adjustment. A fellow writer, whose friends said, “You are the calmest among us,” wrote about the situation finally biting her. She found herself taking a break from her usual daily routine and fighting the urge to cry from time to time.
The director of the mental health department at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Devora Kestel said, “The isolation, the fear, the uncertainty, the economic turmoil – they all cause or could cause psychological distress,”
At a time like this, when the future is uncertain and the present days bring restlessness, how do we maintain a healthy mind? We hope that these five tips give you a boost and remind you that there is still power in our hands.
Starting the day right
Looking forward to the next few days can be an impossible task for some. What exactly do we look forward to with all the uncertainty surrounding us? Can we start traveling in autumn? Can the school year resume after summer? Will we see restaurants buzzing with people again in a few months? We don’t know what the future holds. It seems easier to slouch in bed and be grumpy all day. For now, we can only let go of things we have no control of and focus our energy on things within our power.
One of the best ways to own the day is to start it with intention. Wake up and make your bed. Grab a notebook and create a schedule that you’d love to follow. It’s comfortable to wear pajamas all day but leave it for bedtime; you have to set your mood and bring in energy instead of letting the comfort of the house soothe you back to bed. Take delight in a well-planned and healthy breakfast. You deserve to be happy in the cozy space of your home. We may not be able to fight the pandemic with the snap of a finger, but we can win the fight day by day.
Get connected to nature
With our used-to-be bustling lives, nature was easy to overlook. Traffic jams were more noticeable than sunsets. To-do lists seemed to be growing faster than the flowers in our garden. The world will surely go back to such days, but in the meantime, wouldn’t it be lovely to appreciate what we still have: nature! Interspersed between pandemic news and chaotic politics are good stories about the Earth healing. There’s less air pollution. Animals are reappearing in both their natural habitats and cities. Even birds seem to be chirping louder these days.“With hardly any traffic, you can actually hear the squeak of rusty door hinges. The chirping of birds, an early sign of spring, is almost too loud,” said Sylvia Poggioli, an NPR correspondent in Italy.
What would the world become when it’s back to normal? When was the last time you saw nature at its cleanest and purest state? Take this chance to be closer to nature. A solitary walk or hike (don’t forget to wear a face mask if other people are around) might turn out to be one of the most calming moments of your life at this time.
Passion project time
Got nothing to do? There’s a trend on social media these days where people share how they are coping up with quarantined life. Many are turning to hobbies, arts, cooking, and projects — things that people didn’t have the opportunity or time to do in the past. Whether it’s crocheting hats or launching a YouTube channel (like Cooking Beautifullee), start something creative and worthwhile now! This may be the chance you’ve been waiting for.
One day, we’re all going to remember this year. Wouldn’t it be great to say, “I launched my passion project during a pandemic.” How fearless is that!
Communicate with the people you care about
For over eight years, I have been teaching online — yes, even before the pandemic — and if there’s one thing I’ve seen, it is this: relationships thrive even when we are physically apart. I’ve had some of the most genuine moments during video conference calls. One time, I had to say goodbye to a class on our last day, and when I logged into our virtual classroom, I had to stop my tears — they were holding up cute, little banners that said, “Teacher, we will miss you,” and “We love Teacher Kayce.” Another one wrote, “You are our best teacher!” I felt a lump in my throat as I smiled and waved at them because I used to make little banners for them, and this time, they did the same for me.
Since a lot of people work from home now and are discouraged from socializing, I can’t help but remember all those precious moments with students who were geographically apart from me. Technology is a way to continue communication; technology makes it possible, and creativity makes it genuine. We just have to make the effort. Call a friend. Throw a virtual cook-along party à la Emilia Clarke. Have a Skype ukelele session with a friend. Life goes on, and we’re going to make reasons why it does. Together.
Respect your “after work hours”
Working and studying from home has been the new norm, and some people have adjusted to it quite well. Students like their new schedule (no need to wake up so early in the morning). Office workers can have a quick toast before another Skype meeting. However, the convenience has worn off to some because of one thing: expectations. Since many of us are now working from home, there’s this thought that we are obliged to be online and available 24/7. It’s tempting to agree to a quick, on-the-spot Zoom call when the boss says so. We’re forced to reply to messages at once because our colleagues know we’re just a few steps away from the computer. In a way, it feels as though our very homes have been infiltrated by work. While it’s impossible to build a wall between home and work-life, there are ways to set boundaries. Here are some ideas:
- No video conference calls after dinner
- Switch your phone to airplane mode at bedtime
- Set a certain time in the day for email and work communication
- If possible, start the day with meditation or exercise instead of checking your email first thing in the morning
Boundary setting all depends on the nature of our work and how the team expects us to work together, but if we can create boundaries that are respectful to both our home-life and work-life, then that’ll be great!
Looking far ahead can be rather discouraging these days, especially with all the limitations set for us to follow for our own safety. But just like how humanity moved on in stories of the past, our generation will flourish too. You and I are part of this story. Let’s make a good one despite the bad.
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