We are in the middle of a pandemic. Are you tired of hearing this yet? I know I am. I am tired of hearing about it on the news. I am tired of hearing about it on social media. I am tired of talking about it all the time. I am tired of hearing about it all the time. Sure, it is a part of the life we are living right now, but does it really need to consume us? I don’t think it does. I think it is important to find activities that bring you joy and calm and provide you with a break from the constant stress of being in the middle of a pandemic.
Here is a list of the top 5 activities which create calm in my life right now:
- Take a NEWS fast – I decided at the beginning of Ohio’s quarantine (March) to stop reading/watching the news. There is so much misinformation in the news and because the media needs drama to hook viewers, it seems like we are on the brink of disaster every single time a news anchor comes on the screen or an article gets published on your favorite news app. It was one of the best decisions I have made in a long time. I immediately noticed that my stress level decreased because there was nothing to get worked up about. Decreasing stress helped normalize my sleep, allowing me to fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. And, without the news creating fear and anxiety, I am able to research COVID on my own and come to my own conclusions about my relative risk and how to proceed for myself and for my family.
- Listen to books – I began reading when I was 4 and was reading chapter books by age 5. I devoured books. However, when I finished my Master’s Degree 14 years ago, I stopped reading for pleasure. I needed a break from reading because my brain felt like it was on overload from all of the books I had to read for my thesis. And then I had a baby and my life was consumed with reading children’s books and listening to nursery rhymes. Nothing like a quarantine to find the time to get back into hobbies that we have previously put away! I quickly grew bored of streaming the same old shows and movies, so I turned to my audiobook app and fell back in love with “reading”. I know listening to books is not exactly the same, but research has shown that it does activate the same area of the brain AND it is an activity that I can do while I complete household tasks, sit outside while my kids play, go for a walk in the park, or while I lay in bed just before turning out the lights. It is amazing what a good story can do, the escape it can provide. I have found that it also helps in decreasing my stress levels.
- Connect with Mother Earth – Nothing like being quarantined to make you realize just how small your house is, right?! Luckily, we have a large yard so whenever our house starts to close in on us, we go outside to play and sit in the grass. I also make it a point to walk at the park every morning so that I can be surrounded by trees, fresh air, and the sights and sounds of nature. Whenever I am outside, I take off my shoes and put my bare feet into the grass so that I can reconnect with Mother Earth. This is called Earthing. I have found that when I “go” Earthing, I have a much more positive outlook on life and I feel more grounded and present in my body. I recommend getting outside and putting your bare feet in the grass daily and for as long as you can. I bet it won’t take long for you to enjoy it as much as I do!
- Spend time with my children – What better way to decrease stress and remember all of the good in the world than by spending time watching your children explore and discover and love and play? Children are filled with wonder and watching them reminds us of what it was like to also be a child, filled with that wonder. As I type this, I am watching my son play with his grapes. Of course, I could tell him to stop doing that because of the mess he might make if he squashes them. Instead, I am giggling because he is pretending that those grapes are rocket ships flying off into space, crashing into one another, escaping from his dinosaurs, and playing a chasing game through the gummy worm field on the table. He is lost in his own little world, completely unaware of what is going on out in the big, bad world, and he is completely content. Wouldn’t we all benefit just a little bit if we spent more time observing our kids and re-discovering the world through their eyes and less time worrying about what is happening with all of the things that are beyond our control?
- Make Self-care a priority – In tough times, we are always so busy taking care of our children, our partners, our homes, our work, our friends, and we end up forgetting to take care of our selves. However, we can not be effective at taking care of everything and everyone else if we are completely depleted. This is why self-care is so important. You have to fill up your cup in order to fill up the cups of others. For me, self-care includes the other 4 items on this list. It includes setting healthy boundaries around requests for my time/energy and learning when to say “No” to those requests. And, it also includes receiving therapy, bodywork, massage, energy work, chiropractic, or whatever other rejuvenating activities that I feel drawn to at any given time. In the last several weeks, I have been receiving Shamanic sessions. These have been extremely useful for clearing away clutter, gaining clarity, and refocusing my energy. It is easy to get caught up in all of the fear, anxiety, and negativity out in the world, so I have been using these sessions to neutralize all of that and expand the positive energy and healing that I want to contribute to the collective consciousness.
Of course, there are other activities that I have been doing to fill my time, to escape from reality, to keep my sanity through quarantine, but these 5 things have been my best strategies. How are you taking care of yourself through all of the COVID craziness?