Hello there, beautiful, important human beings. Life is crazy right now, isn’t it? We are in an unprecedented, anxiety-ridden time. I am here to tell you that all of the feelings you are feeling right now are valid. I hear you. I see you. And, it will be okay.
Perhaps now more than ever, it is important to prioritize your mental health and find ways to be mindful when your mind is full. During this quarantine period, I have been able to embark on one of the most spiritual and reflective journeys of my life. I wanted to share with you some of the things I have done to ease my mind, heal, and grow during this time in the hopes that it will help you, too.
I recently began studying Greek Stoicism, which is a form of philosophy that helps us guide our thoughts and actions in an unpredictable world. Afterall, you know what they say, “Life is what happens when you are busy making plans.” Stoicism has been a huge help to me in navigating the uncertainty of life at the moment. The Stoics always said that you will never know true happiness until you accept the fact that some things in life are within your control and some things in life are out of your control. They also said that it is not about what happens to you in life, but how you choose to react to what happens to you that really matters. I was feeling really pessimistic about this Covid-19 reality we are living. I was sad that all of my senior year events were cancelled and I was scared of the future. Stoicism, though, provided me a tool to reframe this pandemic and make it as positive as possible. It made me realize that I can turn the adversity I face into a life lesson or period of growth.
Now, you don’t necessarily need to study an ancient school of Greek philosophy in order to feel happier. At the end of the day, happiness comes down to gratitude, which is why I started gratitude journaling. It is important to be grateful for all the blessings one has in life. I know it is easy to get caught up in what we don’t have, or what has been taken away, but focusing your energy on these things will cause a slow deterioration of your mental health. Look for the things in life that make you happy or give you joy. Focus your energy on those things. Gratitude is a very subjective thing. For me, I feel blessed that I know where my next meal is coming from and I feel thankful that I have family and friends who love me. Pay attention to the little things, too. I am thankful for the bird that woke me up today, for Simon & Garfunkel, and for the sweet-smelling candle in my room. Expressing gratitude will make your heart feel lighter.
Another thing that has proved to be very helpful to me is establishing a routine. Typically, I allow myself to sleep in until 8:30 or 9:00, but then I get up, make my bed, and start my day. I get ready, drink a cup of coffee, and go for a morning bike ride. Then, I set goals for what I want to accomplish in a day. I usually pick two to three tasks. Once those tasks are done, I give myself time to play music, journal, watch television, read, and reflect on my day. After a day of work, partake in an activity that makes your soul sing. The hardest part of establishing a routine is getting started. Once you do, though, it will make all the difference.
This piece of advice could prove to be the most important. If you are feeling lonely, CALL someone, anyone. It could be a family member, a friend, or someone you have always wanted to be friends with. It really should not be called “social-distancing.” It should be called “physical distancing and social connectedness.” It is important to stay connected to those we care about. A call, text, or FaceTime can help both parties feel less anxious and less alone.
My final piece of advice to you is limit the amount of news and social media you expose yourself to. It is important to stay informed, but the news and social media can cause anxiety and depression. Filter what you see, and limit the amount of time you spend on these sites. Remove yourself from the heaviness of life from time to time.
I hope that these mental health tools are useful to you. I know what works for me will not necessarily work for everyone, but maybe this will give you a place to start. We might not all be in the same boat, but we are in the same storm. We will be okay. We just need to take life one day at a time.