Wow, I can’t believe all that has happened over the last week or so. Self isolation and social distancing has become the new normal. It is crazy and saddening to see all the effects that have happened, such as lost jobs and lives upended, and to consider all the uncertainty yet to come. I am thinking of all those who need extra support and care, and recognize that we are all affected differently. No matter your situation, I’m sure it has been challenging to adapt to self-quarantining, so I wanted to give my perspective and share what I can in the hopes that it is helpful for others.
I took my renal exam for medical school on Friday and then started spring break yesterday, and right after my exam I got a call from my parents saying that they were going to drive down to bring me back home from Chicago to Minnesota as they were worried that I would get stuck there by myself as cities continue to intensify lockdown measures. So I had to quickly pack, which was very hard as I don’t know how long it will be before things are settled down and I can go back to Chicago for school. It felt very frenzied to me to have to quickly mobilize and travel on such short notice, but I was very fortunate to be able to be driven home and to now be safely at home in rural Minnesota, where it is much easier to socially distance ourselves than in the heart of Chicago. And on my drive, I had a lot of time to reflect on the current situation.
Even though self-quarantining may not seem like you’re doing much to help, it is the most important thing you can do and does make a difference. If you’re not self-quarantining, please learn more about how this helps and try to stay away from crowds, avoid non-essential travel (even just going to stores) as much as you can.
A little video for a visual representation of the power of social isolation
I know it’s not possible for everyone, given work and other responsibilities, so if you are able to do so, please stay home. It really will and does make a difference. If you can stay home, that is an immense privilege and we need to treat it as such and be cognizant of those who can’t. For those that are still obligated to go into work, especially those involved on the frontlines of fighting and handling COVID-19, thank you for your work and dedication and please stay safe and healthy.
As we do our part to help with this crisis, taking care of our wellness is so key; isolation, uncertainty, and loss of our usual routines can easily make us lose motivation, energy, and connection.
Over the last week while I was studying for my exam, I was grateful to have the opportunity to go on walks outside and take free, live fitness classes to help manage my stress. During one live yoga class, we focused on envisioning creating a ball of light at our heart, gathering it up in our palms, and then sending it out to the world. I loved this idea, and it inspired me a lot! There was one moment that was really magical for me, because I was doing this light-spreading movement and a ray of sunshine came in through my window and shone on me. Feeling the sunlight on my skin as I focused on sending out love and prayers for others reminded me of the power of our actions.
Although there is so much to be upset and stressed about, I think it is heartwarming to hear of people going out of their ways to help others or use their skills to serve. For example, perfume companies in France are now making hand sanitizer for local hospitals, and I have seen many sweet stories of things such as children performing music or dance for elderly relatives from a safe distance across the yard.
Find your inner light and share it with others. Light and love can travel across distance, so even though we can’t physically be with many of our loved ones right now, you can still spread goodness and connection. Think about your talents and how you can use those to help others. In this way, we can do what we can as individuals to make the most out of this trying time.
For example, I plan to make more at-home workout videos to share to provide healthy ways to manage stress and cabin fever (check out one later in this post!). If you can’t think of anything, everyone can send a kind text to a friend or family member to check in and let them know you’re thinking of them. Even little things make such a difference!
Spread your light in any way you can, and don’t let it be put out by fear. It’s natural and conscientious to worry about what’s happening, but I think we can channel that into love for a positive, productive perspective. For example, I’ve been worrying about the elderly and immunocompromised and their risk of getting sick. So I took that into praying that they are protected and thinking of ways I can help. If you’re not a spiritual person, you can hope or wish or think of sending positive energy out instead of praying, if that’s not your thing.
I wanted to share my thoughts on maintaining health and wellness during social distancing to hopefully bring some positivity into others’ lives as we all practice social distancing. I am breaking this up into multiple posts so that it isn’t overwhelming and too long to read all at once, but I will link them all in this post so you can find all the information in one place.
I also threw in videos for an at-home workout and a fun new recipe for vegan red velvet blueberry pancakes! I hope some of what I say can resonate with you and help you find a bit of peace and happiness!
Try to get up around the same time every day, and create some sort of schedule, especially if you are a student or are working from home. This can help you avoid the feeling of losing awareness of time, which I think tends to coincide with a lack of energy. Be sure to schedule in some time for self-care as well, even just a quick stretch (see the video in the "Get Moving" section if you need ideas, or check out more stretches here), walk, or meditation. I like writing down in my planner what time I plan to workout (live classes are really helpful for me in this aspect since they keep me accountable), what tasks I plan to do, what time I have virtual classes, etc. It makes me feel very satisfied and accomplished when I cross these things off!
On the other side of finding a routine, I think it is helpful to break up any monotony by trying new things (see later in this post for ideas of at-home activities), getting outside for fresh air, making a new recipe, or other fun things! Having a change of scenery by going outside or even just studying in a different room can help you feel refreshed, and if you are working or studying it is a nice break and can help you develop new, creative ideas!
P.S. for some motivation while writing, Written Kitten shows a
new picture of kittens every 100 words (you can change the
settings for a different word count), which I think is adorable!
I’ve shared lots of ideas of ways to spend time and stay well. I hope you have enjoyed this post - props to you for reading this whole thing!! But I just wanted to point out that this period of time doesn’t mean you have to accomplish something - it is equally valid to rest and don’t be too hard on yourself. Staying positive doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It is important to recognize how you are feeling and know that everyone is coping differently and whatever emotions you have are valid.
Please feel free to reach out to me if you need someone to talk to or have any ideas of topics you’d like me to address, either on my website or on Instagram! Stay well, safe, healthy, and #stayinside!
XOXO - Andrea