7th of March 2020, we returned from our first and probably the last (at least for a while) holiday trip of the year, and ever since then the dynamics of the world have changed. Had it not been for an overwhelming inflow of texts on a WhatsApp group, screaming for the need of hand sanitizers while I was boarding the airplane, I would have had no idea that this scarcity was just a glimpse of a long-term lockdown in the making. Since that day and today, it’s been more than 3 months that we have been diligently practicing social distancing and staying at home orders unless we have had to run out for some quick essential errands.
Honestly, in the beginning, this whole lockdown thing wasn’t that bad after all. For a person like me who has a checklist to tick every single day, this came in as an open invitation to take some much-needed break. I also recollect feeling little less guilty, skipping a few tasks out of my daily routine, knowing that the entire world had to do it too. Yes, I carry the burden of self-imposed responsibilities!
Before the episode of lockdown, I had been pretty stressed looking for jobs since the beginning of this year. I had recently completed my PG Diploma in Digital Marketing and just when I thought I was job-ready, the market scenario flipped. Ever since then, it has been a challenge to keep me motivated and in tune with a disciplinary routine. If I made a plan for myself, I failed fifty times before succeeding at it for even ten times. That’s a pretty bad success rate even after months of self-disciplining and conveniently being hard on myself. And now with the extended periods of (self-imposed) isolation in practice, if there is something I decided to add to my routine, it was some relaxation and self-kindness.
So, long story short, I decided to journal and sort out at least 10 things for myself that I would attempt to do at least daily to keep myself sane during this quarantine.
1. Meditate, Chant, Self-heal: This is the first on my list because I realized that the day will have to begin with ME. If I can manage to have a consistent waking up routine, taking some time for myself is worth the deal.
For many of us who are working from home and are multitasking with family, kids, and pets have something to look forward to as soon as their alarm strikes. But for me, this isn’t the case. I don’t have a work commitment at this point, no kids, a very chilled out husband, and a dog who snoozes right after breakfast. Given these amicable conditions, I often end up in bed again only to ditch my alarm and then wake up in a nasty mood.
So, instead of heading to an unpleasant start, I started making an effort to lift myself to freshen up and sit for at least 20 -30 minutes of chanting. As a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism, this rhythm seems to tune and align me for the rest of the day. There are also days when I simply focus on breathing through a guided meditation app on my phone. It may not be the most perfect thing to do, but a little effort helps me go a long way.
2. Eating a Healthy Meal: Staying at home often leads to frustration, anxiety, and stress worrying about the future. There are times when the overload of information is also too hard to digest. Such times have proven congenial to attract me towards foods that may not be the healthiest choice. Too much-processed sugars, frequent kitchen hops, and munching on readily available packaged foods have always done more harm than good.
Keeping that in mind, I have been consciously trying to focus only on necessary grocery items and restraining myself to buy foods that are easy to munch on. I’ll admit that over these last few weeks, I have been overly tempted to drink some soda but I made the effort to blind myself and switch to homemade lemonades instead.
Also, cooking breakfasts is not my forte which is why I have tried to plan a variety of easy home-cooked meals to prevent me from getting bored. A few of my favorites are oatmeal with fruits, smoothies, sandwiches, just a slice of toast and coffee and even some Indian quick breakfasts items such as Upma (made of semolina), Poha (made of flattened rice), and Idlis (made from a rice and lentil batter). For cheat meals, I’ve just decided to stick to homemade guacamole and whole wheat chips and non-dairy ice creams. No Judgements. 😀
3. Exercise, Yoga, Walk: My idea here is to do something. Whatever works best is the best thing I can do for my body as long as it receives some love and attention.
One of the opportune things about this lockdown is the numerous fitness apps and programs that are so readily available and many of them being absolutely free. It just lets you pick a time that suits best to your schedule and devote at least 30 minutes to your own well-being.
My four-legged boy, Gibson also makes sure he gets his walks twice a day or else I would have lacked some much needed fresh air and Vit D. Also I personally enjoy using the FitOn app and now that Fitbit has extended its trial period to 90 days, I am doing my best to make the most out of it too.
4. Investing in a Hobby: Routine life generally gives us less time and motivation to do the things we love. However, as all experts and many people are talking right now, this can be a good time to invest yourself in a long lost hobby. Off late, I have been amazed to see some incredible quarantine sketches from people who I never knew had an interest in art.
So whether its reading, music, blogging, or baking trying to set some time attending to these small interests can go a long way.
I, personally am making an effort to build my patio garden and my vegan food blog on Instagram because food is one thing that I am thinking quite often these days. Also, since I need a creative vent for myself, for two consecutive weeks, I am making sure to spend some time upcycling unused items in my house.
5. Read at least 30 mins Every Day: It’s no news that there is so much news out there! The amount of information we have today is both a blessing as well as a boon. The situation is grim and with the constant inflow of news about the horrors of death and calamities worldwide is depressing.
Instead, I’ve decided to pick a book or use my Amazon Prime account for some substantial reading that would at least transport me to another world and help ease my mind. I also discovered that Goodreads is an excellent way to browse and choose what I’d like to read next.
6. Learn a New Skill: As a part of my personality, I need to do something 5 days a week. The only time I rest and do nothing guilt-free is on the weekends. This is something that steps from my ex-professional life.
So, to keep up to my habit, I did complete a few more certificate courses and have also started learning how to play the keyboard. Allthough I am sincerely still nascent at both of these, the satisfaction of learning and growth keeps me sain and satisfied.
7. Declutter & Donate: This is my favorite. I love to declutter and get rid of old, unused, or damaged things from my home. I either donate or try selling them on the marketplace and from my experience so far, I have never been disappointed either way.
As a cultivated OCD syndrome, I hate to see things lying around on the surface and every speck of dust sets me into a reminder mode, “that I need to clean.” However, I also find this process very rewarding because who wouldn’t want a zen ambiance in their own home, after all?
8. Network, Network & Network: If there is something I have tried venturing into during the Pandemic, it is to network. It goes without saying how much I have missed human interaction during these few months.
Moreover, considering that I am on a job hunt, I have figured out that networking is a key ingredient in addition to the rest of the efforts required for gaining some visibility. Here’s to keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for something to work out. And if not, I believe I will still end up knowing some amazing people.
9. Helping a Non-Profit: I have realized that when times are turbulent and troublesome, there is no point in complaining and the best we can do is reach out and help someone making a better cause. So with that intention, I did take up a foster pup from the NGO that I volunteer with and boy what a heck of a week was that! No, I mean seriously.
That one pup went from dormancy to a super active volcano of energy the minute he saw my “not so interested” dog. And for what it was like, we did have a few sleepless nights but one entire week of extra cuddles, giggles, and absolute amusement before he found his forever home.
10. Communicate and Invest in your Relationships: During this pandemic, I am so grateful that I have not had one single disagreement with my husband. It’s like floating on still waters.
And I am not complaining or meaning to attract any disharmony here, but I just love the fact that I have had extended opportunities to just relax, chat and share so much more than the usual “run of the mill” kind of days. Also, like most people, I have e-meet friends from college after 10 years, group video chatted more than ever, and even made videos of silly challenges just to keep our spirits high.
However, there are days when I over exceed my expectations and my productivity runs below negative. Such days are when I feel seemingly challenged, unequipped, and incapable to sail through my routine. These are the times when I try to practice self-kindness and unwind into absolutely effortless things. One of them is indulging in Grey’s or Fuller House with a good cup of coffee.
What has been your take to maintain your sanity? Let’s share and keep the inspiration rolling. ❤