I’ve been self-isolating since Monday, March 16th (other than two essential trips down the block for necessities that were unfortunately unavoidable). I’m not sick, but my roommate and I are immunocompromised, so we are being extra cautious. While our well-being is important, my main concern is making sure we are working to flatten the curve. Truth be told, I’ve been really surprised at how well this self-isolation is going! I suppose that’s the perks of being a disabled, anxious introvert – I’ve had lots of practice being on my own! All jokes aside, I know I’m only doing this well because I’ve been using all the tips and tricks I’ve learned to look after myself over the past few years, from counsellors, my mom, my friends, and the internet. For some of the best ways to keep up self-care while in self-isolation, check out the post I did Monday . Here’s how I’ve actually been putting them into practice.
I just started using a task tracking app called Todoist and it’s been helping me keep track of my tasks without wasting as much paper as I used. At the end of the year, I get a big wrap-up of how productive I was with a whole slew of stats, from what days I was most productive to how many tasks I completed over the year. I love these kinds of statistics, and that’s proving to be more motivating than any other tracking/checklist method I’ve used. I’m finding myself wanting to complete more things during my day so I can check them off on the app and have a higher productivity at the end of the year. Figuring out what motivated me was super essential to getting things done!
I’m not going to lie though, the start of my first week of isolation was not quite as good. I was feeling super down, lethargic, and anxious about the whole thing – I think all of us are to varying extents. Luckily, I already had a scheduled doctor’s appointment through the campus clinic for that Tuesday, and an appointment with a PMC counsellor on Wednesday. My depression and anxiety had been at a higher baseline than we would like over the past few months (the changing seasons and lack of sun really hit hard), so the timing couldn’t have been better for these appointments. Going into all of this would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t started off with that support. I increased my medication dosage with the doctor, and on Wednesday reviewed how I was feeling and some calming/grounding techniques with my counsellor.
At the end of last week I decided to go through all of my ‘Watch Later’ list in YouTube and add the ones I wanted to watch into a new playlist called ‘This Week’ (even though, as it turns out, this is going to be for longer than a week). This way I didn’t have to sort through any videos that could be anxiety-inducing or have heavier topics that I’m not up to watching. Instead, I focused on fun, relaxing, and inspiriting. I also went through all my books and movies and made two easily accessible stacks I could reach for when I wanted. Now I have quick and easy access light-hearted, feel-good entertainment whenever I need it.
Speaking of entertainment, one thing I’m not doing is constantly checking social media – I completely deleted Twitter and Facebook from my phone, have my notifications off for other apps, and I limit myself to only checking those a few times daily. As much as you may want to stay informed, spending too much time looking at all this negative news can be really toxic for you.
Now I have a routine going, which has helped me the most. I take it easy in the morning, getting breakfast and watching some YouTube videos. I also make sure my reusable water bottle is filled up so I can start my day with lots of hydration. I pick two or three chores each day that will be my priority and mix them into my tasks throughout the day. I put in a few hours of online work and make sure I have at least one good, big meal every day. When my partner gets home from his work we nap, watch a movie or YouTube, play a game, make dinner and eat together, and then we do our own thing for the evening. I text my friends in our group chats periodically throughout the day, and most days I try and talk with my mom on the phone. After advice from the counsellor, I have started limiting the time we spend talking about covid-19 related topics and steer the conversation to more relaxing subjects. She always makes sure to ask me what I’m doing for self-care, so that gives me another boost of motivation to look after myself, knowing that’s she’s going to check in.
Around mid-morning, after work, and in the evenings, I make sure I get in some reading and writing time. Reading has always been my biggest hobby, and I’ve started focusing on non-fiction so that I don’t completely disconnect with the world around me and remind myself that it can be a good place. From experience, too much fantasy/fantastical books can lead to complete dissociation for me, which is not good. It keeps my mind working and I keep learning things. I also make sure I get in some writing time, my favourite hobby if not the one I spend the most time on.
April is sort of a big month for writers because a lot of us participate in something called “Camp NaNoWriMo.” NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is a specific challenge that takes place in November, and April and July are “camp” months, when our projects/goals are much more flexible. I’ve decided to start a new, soft and fun rom-com novel at the beginning of April, so I’ve been having a lot of fun brainstorming and outlining. This is keeping me in touch with one of my favourite things that I don’t often remember to take time for and is making me feel proud to be working towards one of my biggest life goals (being a published author).
Keeping in constant contact with friends and family (as well as having my cat here to cuddle with, the mental health boost pets have is astounding! I hope all you people out there with fur babies are taking advantage of all your time with them), working on my hobbies, keeping my apartment clean, and starting to get into a bit of a schedule are all really helping. Whether you’re playing a game, video chatting, or just doing your own thing in the same room as someone else, connection is still possible – and vital – in these stressful times. I hope you are all doing well, and make sure you’re taking good care of yourselves!
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