It's been a year since WHO declared COVID-19 a pandemic. Coronavirus has changed the way we live, and drastically impacted our mental health. Even though we're at the tail end of this saga, many of us, including myself, are really feeling the pandemic fatigue.
It's been a hard year. Our fight-or-flight system has been in overdrive, adrenaline is drying up and apathy is kicking in. From home schooling to being productive when working from home, emotionally, has made most of us feel drained. So, the question is, how do we cope with this impending feeling of doom? Here are a few simple things you can try to help you navigate through this.
Being outdoors is so good for the mind, body and soul. It boosts your energy, immune system and provides you with vitamin D. Taking a walk outside will restore your focus and even enhance your creativity. After a bleak winter, your body needs to reap the benefits of being outside. So, take your morning coffee and have it in your garden. Step away from your workspace every hour for five minutes and walk around the block. Ask your friend if you can take their dog to the local park. Look up national parks near you and take a day trip.
As you know, I am a huge fan of photography. Through this pandemic, I have become a complete home body. To encourage myself to get outside, I will pick a neighboring city, beach or national park to visit, and head out with my camera in hand. This has drastically boosted my creativity, spiked some hope into me, and has simply made me feel a lot better. I know its easier staying in, but trust me, you will feel so much better and glad you went out after!
As humans, we are born into social circles and live our entire lives as part of a society. With coronavirus introducing lockdowns, curfews and closures of the establishments we once socialized in, we still need to maintain tangible human interaction. Socializing is believed to trigger part of our nervous system that releases a bunch of neurotransmitters that aid in regulating our response to stress and anxiety - releasing oxytocin, generating dopamine, lowering cortisol, and therefore reducing stress. You can socialize responsibly by arranging to meet a friend and take a socially distanced walk or picnic.
It's so easy to curl up at home and not leave, especially through winter. One way I encouraged myself to socialize and get out was by meeting a friend at one of my favorite cafes in Amsterdam, and getting coffee to-go. It's a nice way to receive healing human connection, be active, and support local businesses.
If you are not making it a daily habit to read, then you are truly missing out! Reading has a string of benefits from cognitive mental stimulation, stress reduction, and improvements in concentration and attention span, especially in this information age. Reading helps you sleep better at night, broadens your mind, and can help with anxiety and depression. With a surge in people reporting depressive symptoms during the pandemic, picking up a book can be a small step to help you feel better. Find a book you love, whether its fiction or a self development book, and place it on your bedside table. In the evening, before your normal bedtime, read at least a couple of pages before falling asleep. You will soon find reading is highly addictive and a great habit to adopt.
I love using the app Goodreads which helps me find which book to read next. I have found that my sleep quality drastically improves when I read before bed, and my sense of worldly inspiration has grown even more through the pages of my books. Here are some books I love and recommend. I picked up A Fine Balance in Kerala and currently reading it now - a page turner!
Grow Plants Or Start Gardening
Gardening or growing a plant, flowers or herbs at home is healing, and can do wonders to your well being. It can be a spiritual experience watching something grow from nothing. It's widely believed that being in tune with your environment is intertwined with a harmonious life. Planting herbs, seedlings, flowers or plants helps with this connection, and reduces stress in the process. Interacting with nature through nurturing by planting, watering and trimming feels rewarding and boosts your mood. I suggest starting with something easy like a snake plant or succulents. Alternatively, prepare a colorful garden for summer by getting knee deep with gardening in the wake of spring. I highly recommend watching Ekta Chaudhaury who runs a YouTube channel called GardenUp, or Crazy Plant Guy for lots of care tips.
Since the start of lockdown I began growing herbs I consistently use like coriander and mint. This then turned into propagating plants, growing my collection of pothos, pink arrowhead, begonia and calathea. And this weekend, I plan on gardening outdoors.
SHOP PLANT POTS
Plan For The Future
Spring has always been a time to look forward, but this year, there is a lot more to look forward to with the end of this historic shutdown. Planning an event, a renovation, a bucket list trip, a family reunion or simply an appointment at the hair dressers can help thwart stress through a cognitive process named 'proactive coping'. By planning you acknowledge there will be a future, and therefore boost your emotional wellbeing, while remaining engaged and stimulating creative energy.
I have been planning my next trip back to Scotland to see my family and to explore the country more. It has helped me look forward to life past shutdown and really see the glimmer of light.
Hang in there! The end is so near. Enjoy the little things, and know you're not alone.
Lots of love and light