Updated: May 11, 2020
As our routines have shifted and slowed down, we can reorganize them to add meaning to our days.
It is no doubt a time of high stress and anxiety as the world is facing profound uncertainty amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. While many are taking precautions to shield their physical health from COVID-19, protecting both themselves and others through self-quarantining and social distancing, the disruption of routine, diminished socialization, and probable financial impact may consequently be putting our mental health and wellbeing at risk.
As an occupational therapist, who knows engagement in meaningful occupations is crucial to optimal health and wellbeing, it apparent that now is as an important time as ever to start focusing on them. While not under ideal circumstances, COVID-19 has subsequently granted many of us the time to slow down and reset from the usual fast-paced and often work-centered lifestyle. Amongst all the chaos we may find that we actually have a chance to think about what adds value to our lives, and despite what may feel like an indefinite period of isolation, we have the opportunity to engage.
Whether you are off of work all together or have an extra hour or two each day without your normal commutes, we have been given the perception of “more” time. More time to create simple, yet meaningful, moments with loved ones, whether in the household or through FaceTime. More time to sit down and reflect on the life we have and the life we want to create. More time to read the book that’s been sitting on the shelf for months, cook a homemade meal to be enjoyed with family gathered around the table, or finally start learning a new skill or future hobby we’ve been meaning to get to.
Here’s what I’ll be doing with more time to keep my spirits high and wellbeing thriving:
Practicing Mindful Breathing + Meditation
In the past, I always looked to practicing mindfulness through meditation to ease my anxiety. However, at the beginning of the year, I had my breath analyzed by a breath expert and learned about the impact the breath has on our overall wellbeing. (FYI, it’s hugely impactful.) I was instructed to practice coherent breathing daily, but despite its importance to my health, I didn’t make the time for it as much as I’d wanted to. Now, I’m setting aside 5-10 minutes each night before I go to bed to just focus on my breath.
(PS: If you are a US healthcare provider in a public healthcare setting, wanting to focus more on meditation specifically, Headspace is offering a free subscription to their app during this coronavirus time.)
Just finished Maybe You Should Talk to Someone (yes, it’s as good as the reviews) and now starting Ikigai to learn about the Japanese concept of finding one’s purpose in life. And after that, I have about 20 more books on my constantly-added-to, running list.
Cooking for others is something I have always loved to do – but as we all know, between the prepping, cooking, and cleaning, can be quite time consuming. I’m using this period to cook more hearty meals and try new recipes (like homemade gnocchi!) for myself and others to enjoy.
I’ll admit, I don’t put as much time into writing article posts for my website as much as I’d like or intended to do. So, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing to keep my mind busy and challenged: curating more posts and taking time for some self-reflection through journaling as well. There’s a lot of change and uncertainty unfolding in my personal life, aside from COVID-19, and there’s no better way to foster the mind-body connection than journaling my thoughts.
It may seem counter-intuitive that social distancing can equate to social connection. However, with more friends and family working remotely, I’m finding that it’s far easier to regularly communicate with them. Yes, there may be more time for the endless scroll through social media, but join me in using that time to instead call a friend or shoot them a quick text!