As we ride out the mass social-distancing taking place in an effort to slow down the coronavirus, it’s important that we don’t let our mental health slip. Now that more solo time is being encouraged as a matter of public health, it can feel almost as if there’s almost too much time available -- and who would have thought we’d say that in 2020. Of course, we know that the same amount of time still exists in the day, it’s only our perspectives that have shifted. And that shift can start to take a toll. There’s a quote from Aldous Huxley’s 1923 comic novel, Antic Hay that beautifully illustrates how daunting downtime can be:
“There are quiet places also in the mind,” he said, meditatively. But we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately -- to put a stop to the quietness. We don’t like the quietness. All the thoughts, all the preoccupation in my head -- round and round continually.”
To help stretch those muscles and make sure you’re making the most of this time as best you can, we’ve laid out the practices that will foster peace of mind so that you’re equipped to handle what lies ahead.
Put Down The Phone
And pick up that book you’ve been meaning to get to for the last several weeks (maybe months? Don’t worry, we won’t tell). The constant scrolling is not only wrecking damage on our psych, but also our eyes. Blue light suppresses the release of melatonin, causing us to be more alert and active. So if you’ve been feeling exhausted without barely moving, that’s a signal from your body to take a break from the screen.
The beauty of a good book is that it can allow you to step outside of your present reality or more critically engage with it. Literature provides the blueprint, and the processing and creativity that comes from within fills the rest out. Scrolling feels almost programmed into our bodies. Now’s the time to reclaim ourselves. Whether it’s reading, dusting off previously set down “hobbies” like sketching, or allowing yourself to meditate without a timer, get comfortable with the “you.” If you’re at a bit of a losslost of exactly how to do that, The Art of Being deck is a fun way to unlock easy activities you can do from your home -- cue solo dance party.
This doesn’t mean you have to block any and all media from coming your way. It would be virtually impossible at this rate and as a responsible citizen you want to stay informed. Being equipped with the facts can help us overcome this pandemic together. But moderation is key. Sign up for a morning briefing to receive a round up of the latest news. Many cities are also providing text updates (text COVID19SF to 888-777 if you’re in the SF Bay Area). Chances are you’ve done these things. If so, good -- now go do “you.”
Let It Out
In the same vein of staying connected while we spend some time apart from each other, encourage your close friends and family to share their anxieties and frustrations. It’s not easy to radically change your daily routine almost overnight and for those who cope with anxiety and depression, the heightened paranoia and rapid isolation can lead to spiraling. Now’s the time to get real with how you are feeling and provide a listening ear to those you cherish.
Schedule a one-on-one session with a loved one or make it a group. Practice collective mediation, journaling, or self-reflection. Sometimes knowing that you aren’t alone makes solo time feel more fruitful and active fo a choice and less of a condemnation.
These practices don’t have to stop when the social -distancing does, nor should they. Reclaiming yourself and carving out the time to look out for your mental well-being can always add value to not only your physical health but your outward-facing perspectives, no matter the state of the world we share. But now is a good time to start if you’ve been looking for one.
Michella Oré is a freelance fashion and culture writer from the Bay Area. Her past work ranges from spotlighting new designers to covering the latest in art, music, and politics. She loves to travel and makes sure to always drop by a cafe for a moment to watch people no matter where she lands. There's something about taking in the city and individuals within it when they are their most uninhabited that provides an inspiration and moment for self-reflection that is unparalleled.
📸 Carrie M. Moon