With the level of societal anxiety running high, today I’m taking a different approach and offering some tips for staying calm in quarantine. I’m no expert: I’m very much learning as I go along, but I find that some of the work I’ve done on mindfulness and mental grounding prior to being confined is helping me to cope.
Taking care of mind and body
I’ve been practicing yoga at home for a long time, with the help of some online yoga classes: you can find classes for all levels and abilities. The thing I love about yoga is that it provides a workout for both mind and body. The more I practice, the more I realise the importance of the meditation section at the end of the workout. Ideally, this should be as long as the workout itself, so if you exercise for 15 minutes, you practice mindfulness and meditation for 15 minutes afterwards. If you are unable to do the exercise part for any reason, you can still do the meditation. There are many guided meditations online, so find one that works for you. If, like me, you are confined in a full house, it might be worth setting your alarm a little earlier, or staying up a little later than everyone else to grab some much needed one-on-one time with yourself.
Dealing with isolation
As an alcoholic in recovery, I worry about other alcoholics and addicts, especially those in total isolation who may be in danger of relapse. As my sponsor told me, ‘the opposite of addiction is connection,’ and though we are presented with new and unique challenges in the current situation, connection is still possible. For AA members, there are online meetings every day. Try to build one into your daily routine. Also, they need technical support on these meetings due to increased demand, so offer to help out if you can. Talk to your sponsor often (if you have one) or try to find one (if you don’t). It is possible to find a potential sponsor in the online meetings. You are not alone, so keep making those connections. If you’re lucky enough to have a pet – make the most of him or her, and, if possible, go out for a walk in the fresh air.
Unleash your inner artist
If you have any artistic tendencies, now’s the time to explore them. In daily working life, chained to a desk in a dull grey office, creativity and art are not encouraged, which is a shame as they are so important to our mental wellbeing. Now you have a unique opportunity to explore an aspect of your soul that may have been suppressed for decades. Maybe you’re a guitarist or a pianist with the good fortune to have your instrument at home: play the hell out of it! If you love to draw or paint, allow yourself an hour a day to do this. Perhaps you’re into poetry, so read or write a poem (from tomorrow, I plan to post a ‘poem of the day’). If you love novels, read as many as you can, then try to write your own. You may not have much time to do any of the above, or you may have far too much time on your hands. Either way, try to make time in your day to make contact with that part of you that makes you human.
Coping with the kids
We all love our children, and love to spend time with them, but the little dears were not designed to be cooped up in a 2-bed flat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (queue shiver down the spine as I realise I’m only on day 3… ) I feel by turns immensely sorry for my children for their enforced captivity and immensely relieved that they are safe as they can be in the circumstances. If you have a garden, or any outdoor space appended to your property, then use it (I know, this goes without saying!) If you don’t, my advice would be to let things go a little: your sanity is more important than a tidy house. So while your busy strumming your guitar (see previous paragraph) let them build a den out of the furniture and blankets, let them play hide and seek, let them jump on the bed. They have to let that energy out somewhere: so what if it’s chaos, at least they’ll go to bed without a fight…hopefully. You can also do artwork and reading with them, and help them to release their inner artist, Yes, they have schoolwork to do, but they’re also in a difficult situation, so allow them a little freedom and allow yourself some too.
These are the things I’ve picked up from my 3 days in quarantine. I welcome your comments and suggestions, as we’re all in this together. If all else fails, you can always have a wager on who will be the first in your household to go ‘Full Metal Jacket’. In our household, I’m afraid that it is going to be me…