I must start this post by saying I’m great at being alone. I’ve been working from home for years now and I can go days without going outside or talking to anyone and not go insane. I love me time. But even for me this quarantine/self-isolation was starting to be a bit much.
I’m not sure how it is in your part of the world, but here in Slovenia, things are very serious. Not like in Italy, but we are not far behind. Schools and stores (not for groceries) have been closed since the 16th, public gatherings are forbidden since Friday, March 20th. We have no idea how long this is going to last.
I’ve been stuck in my apartment for more than a week now. I’m not going out not even for a walk. It seems that the surgery and anesthesia had a bigger impact on me than I thought and my immune system can’t get itself back to normal.
The sick and the cranky
I haven’t been healthy since the end of January and it’s driving me crazy. I got sick a few days after the first time I went out after my surgery. The first time I went to a concert at a club, not just to the store or coffee with friends.
Apparently, it was the right time for me to start going out after spending almost two months mainly at home – the flu season. I had the flu for two weeks, but it didn’t stop there. I’ve been taking my vitamins and minerals, but my immune system can’t seem to recover.
Every time I go out, I manage to pick up another bug. Nothing serious, but even the cold gets to be a pain in the ass when you can’t shake it for weeks. And now coronavirus. I’m pretty sure I don’t have it, but just in case, I’m staying put.
So, I’m stuck inside with a runny nose, scratchy throat, pain in my chest (that’s still from the surgery), three cats that only get along when they are sleeping, and a mountain of worries. No one really knows what this whole thing is going to bring, but it doesn’t look good, especially for the self-employed.
I try not to think about it but when you’re stuck at home with nothing but time, your mind starts to feel like a hamster’s wheel going full speed.
In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity
As difficult as this may be, I also like to think of it as an opportunity (yes, I borrowed that from Einstein). To think, dream, reflect, realize, learn, fall apart, put ourselves back together, grow. If we take this opportunity to connect, we can come out of it stronger and better. Or at the very least with some new insight.
I believe we are all going to learn something. Not necessarily good (or bad for that matter), but something. Some will learn how to spend time by themselves, and others might find out that they can’t or don’t want to. Some might find different sides of themselves. Others might learn their partner isn’t the right for them (nothing like a two-week quarantine to put things to the test) or that their significant other is exactly who they need and want to be with, in a crisis.
Let’s face it, this is a crisis. No matter how good our relationships are, they are put to the test. And not only romantic relationships, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors… Closeness will divide some, and distance will bring others together. And none of us really knows what group we are in until we are in it.
When you can’t go outside, go inside
I’m using this time to better the most important relationship in my life – the one with myself. I’ve been working on it for years, but I still have a long way to go. And since I’m all alone all the time (minus the time I spend chatting on the phone or scrolling through social media) there is no time like the present.
I’ve been having a hard time coping with things a few days ago. Anxiety struck me hard. I felt like there’s an elephant sitting on my chest and since we are all cautioned about chest pains because of the virus, I was very close to panicking. Luckily this wasn’t my first time dealing with something like this.
I turned off all my social media apps and started meditating. It was rough for a while, but the longer I stayed with it, the easier my breathing got, and my chest felt lighter. And that’s the whole point. It doesn’t matter if you know how to meditate or are doing it the right way – what’s important is that you slow down your thoughts and breathing. It relaxes your body and helps you deal with things.
For those of you who haven’t discovered this yet – your mind is a wonderful and powerful tool, all you need to do is learn how to use it. I’ve discovered that distancing myself from everything around me and turning inwards helps tremendously. Meditation has been a lifesaver many times in my life, it even helped me survive a 20 minute MRI.
I use meditation to calm my nerves, relax my body, steady my mind and sometimes even to find answers to questions that have me going in circles. All I need to do is go to my happy place – the beach. If I can I use the Calm app and their Tropical Beach scene and then close my eyes and listen to the sound of the ocean. Sometimes I only focus on my breathing, the other times I ask myself questions and try to find answers. I’m not an expert, so I can’t say if and how this will work for you, but I know it changed my life.
Declutter (your mind)
Spring is here (although it’s snowing outside) and we should all be doing a bit of spring cleaning. No, I’m not talking about your house, even though you are welcome to clean that as well if you haven’t yet. I won’t. I prefer a different kind of housework. While I don’t mind sitting in a messy living room, my mind always needs to be organized to perfection. Or as close as I can get.
And now it’s the perfect time to sort out our priorities. What we want, what we don’t, what we want more of and what we should let go. Declutter your life on all levels. Re-examine relationships, people, and things around you.
I try not to shut away my negative emotions or thoughts or stick them in a “never open” drawer. I like to deal with things and feelings. It’s not always easy or immediate but I always get through them somehow. Again, meditation helps.
All the little things
Since most of us are locked inside our homes we need something to brighten up our days. You can’t meditate all day. Well, you can, but you probably don’t want to. Here are some other things I do to feel better stuck inside:
- Add a pinch of cinnamon to my morning coffee
- Curl up next to my cats (they might not always like it, but I do)
- Watch a movie
- Bake my own bread
- Make healthy desserts
- Do yoga
- Listen to records (very retro, I know)
- Read a book (and by book, I mean pages of a book, but hey, it’s progress)
I’ve also added some nice tips for self-love on my Instagram if you feel you might need it one of these days.