Being an introvert with social anxiety and major bouts of depression, I would’ve thought that a prolonged quarantine would bring me some sort of serenity in an otherwise tempestuous world. Sure, being cooped up in the comfort of my own room has its perks (pajamas all day and night, bra optional, all the books I could read). Then comes the distancing from friends and loved ones, job insecurity, and other variables that directly affect folks with (or without) mental illness. As a result, the multiple tabs that are open in our minds seem to have no exit button in sight. And the news doesn’t exactly make it better, for the most part. The consequences of COVID-19 are both chaotically small and monumentally catastrophic.
Finding comfort and stability in routine when one has a 9-5 may be easy. But now? Routine? Who is she? 3am-11am is now the new normal sleep schedule for a good majority of us. If finding or even maintaining a routine for the sake of well-being seems unattainable or even irrelevant, it’s really not. I’ve learned that even the smallest of rituals, like drying your hair, cleaning your room, or a daily tarot drawing, were never really savored and taken slowly (for me, personally). Now, activities such as those are retreats of both self-care as well as necessity. Making daily and nightly routines an essential part of our well-being doesn’t have to be grand, nor should they be for anyone other than ourselves. Ritual is what we make of it, and it doesn’t have to be linear or of a day-to-day consistency.
Since the quarantine was taken into effect, I’ve been nurturing a lavender plant, and watching it mature has granted me a better sense of patience and hope. Like seeing cherry blossoms bloom in spring, watching something you have cared for mature and beautify week by week is nothing short of magical. Spending time outdoors, whether it’s just a walk around your yard or wooded area, does wonders for your immune system (even if you just end up collecting nice rocks for two hours).
Indoors, the activities are obviously greater in number. Journaling every night and keeping track of my health eases the tension that crowds my mind, thus making room for peace. And since we’re speaking of minds, I never knew that watching educational lectures without any sort of deadline anxiety could be so rewarding. I’ve been more or less bingeing on Medieval European History and corporate communication strategies (yes, I’m versatile). Staying connected is now more important than ever: weekly virtual therapy sessions, Zoom meetings, and Facetime have proven to be a driving force in maintaining relationships and closeness to those we love and care for. Reading and poetry have been the saving graces for me and countless others, I’m sure – we’re engaging in what makes us feel more human in an otherwise monstrous cycle of events.