7 simple things that are keeping me sane during the quarantine!

I was browsing social media while I should have been sleeping and stumbled upon 2 articles. One was a blogTO article and the other one was a website called Newswire. Both talked about a new study in which 1001 Ontarians (People who live in Ontario, Canada) were surveyed by Pollara Strategic Insights for CMHA. They found that 58% of the people who had been surveyed reported that their mental health had been negatively affected by the pandemic. These are difficult times and I think we all predicted that it would eventually reach this point because being stuck inside all day and being forced to forgo seeing friends, loved ones and the other people that we don’t live with is hard. The study only surveyed a sample of 1001 people, but I imagine that the numbers would be significantly higher if the whole province had been surveyed. There’s a lot of stigma around mental health and it’s unfortunately still a very difficult and taboo topic to discuss. There are still many people who just don’t understand mental health issues and judge the people who are suffering. I’m privileged enough to live in a house where everyone seems to at least have a basic understanding of how serious mental health is, but not everyone is this lucky. As you’ll know if you’ve read my older posts, I’ve dealt with anxiety and depression for years and I try to be as transparent as possible on here, so I’m going to be honest and say that my mental health has definitely taken a hit during this global pandemic and almost all of my close friends have complained about mental health issues in at least some shape or form since the pandemic started. Don’t worry, this is not going to be a sad and depressing post. I’m here to try and cheer you up by writing about what I’ve been doing to stay sane and on top of my mental health during the pandemic! I really hope that is either gives you more hope or a few fun new ideas!

So without further ado, let’s get right into it! Todays blog post is going to be about the 7 things that I’m doing to stay sane during the quarantine! Please read the disclaimer below before continuing! 

*** Before I continue, I need to make sure that it is very clear that I am nor a doctor nor a medical professional and that I cannot guarantee that any of the ideas expressed in this blog post will work for you. I’m purely sharing what has been working for me in the hopes of brightening someone else’s day. If you’re feeling depressed or anxious, there are several professional resources online that can be found with a simple google search. Help lines, text lines and much more! You may feel alone, but you’re not alone, trust me! If you feel like you’re in a dark place, please take advantage of the professional resources that are available and don’t feel bad for seeking professional help. Anyone who judges you for taking your wellbeing seriously is not worth your time anyway. Please don’t face this alone!***   

Now that that has been said, let’s dive right in! 

Finding a new routine! 

One of the things that caught me the most of guard about quarantine was the lack of a fixed routine. This really really surprised me at the beginning. My pre-quarantine routine consisted of waking up 2.5 hours before work, reading for an hour, eating breakfast, taking public transit to work and studying Russian during the commute. I’d then work, exercise after work and then go to bed only to repeat this process again the following day. My job was not essential, so my coworkers and I all temporarily lost our jobs. This slowly killed my routine. I remember it being manageable at the beginning and I’d still wake up early to read and study Russian, but I slowly found myself going to bed later and later and… getting an Xbox live subscription definitely didn’t help the situation. Before I knew it, I had legally changed my name to Edward Cullen and had become a vampire of the night ready to fight werewolves. I was routinely staying up until 4 AM in case the werewolves tried to catch the homeboy slippin’… ok…. fine…. I wasn’t hunting werewolves, I was doing other stuff, but the important thing is that I eventually lost almost all sense of a routine and of going to bed before 2 AM. The only sliver of a routine that I was able to hold onto was the daily Russian study and physical exercise. 

It went on like this for the first half of the quarantine and I started to feel my mental health deteriorating. I felt so unfulfilled and like life and time were just passing me by. It got pretty bad at one point and I really had to work hard to pull myself out of the sinking sand I was in. One of the first things I did was to try and get a slight routine going again and this has worked wonders so far. I don’t like planning everything ahead of time and tend to be very spontaneous and unpredictable, but restoring a little bit of order really improved my mental state.

Reading books!  

I find that my interests and hobbies start to fade when I get depressed and reading was one of the many things to go, so I had to really force myself to get back into it. I knew that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to read, it was just that I was lacking motivation due to how depressed the quarantine was making me feel. I normally read on Apple’s iBooks app and one of the ways that I motivated myself to read everyday before the quarantine was the app’s daily reading goal. They tell you how many consecutive days you’ve hit your reading goal. I have mine set to 30 minutes which means that I need to read 30 minutes a day to hit my daily reading goal. I had a decent streak of about 24 days when the Covid-19 depression made me lose interest in reading. 

I forced myself to get back into reading because I knew I’d learn new things which would lead to me feeling more fulfilled and ultimately, less depressed. I’m happy to say that I’ve already read 5 books, since quarantine started and getting back into reading has not only restored a bit of order to my life, but it’s also allowed me to learn many new things! I started dabbling in Coding as a result of one of the books that I read and that leads me to the next point!

Learning random skills that I never had time for before! 

Coding 

I’d been intrigued by coding for a while, but didn’t know ANYTHING about it or where to even start. I decided to read a book called Coders by Clive Thompson. It was a very interesting book and covered everything from the history of coders, to how the entire world pretty much now runs on code. It was a very interesting book and it inspired me to finally take the plunge. I’ve been trying my hand at JavaScript with a free google program called GrassHopper. I haven’t gotten very far yet, but it seems interesting so far. I may drop it or I may continue. Who knows? Only time will tell, but I’ll try to keep you guys posted! 

Photo editing 

One thing that I also wanted to get into is basic photo editing. I feel like it would be a useful skill to have in the future. I haven’t actually started doing this yet, but I added it to this list because it highlights a point I wanted to make and that is that just creating a list of a few things that I’d like to accomplish during the quarantine not only establishes a little more order, but also cheers me up because it gives me something to strive for.

Writing short stories

This is something that I’ve wanted to get deeper into since before the quarantine even started, but I kept starting stories and then not finishing them. I haven’t had this much free time in years, so I’m going to do my best to finally finish more of them! Sitting down and writing fictional stories really seems to clear my head for some reason. If I can’t do fun things with friends outside, that doesn’t stop the characters in the stories from having fun in the sun, now does it?

Writing more blog posts 

Writing short stories clears my mind, but writing blog posts clears my mind in a different way and I really enjoy it. I unfortunately stopped writing during the first half of the quarantine because I lost all motivation, but as with getting myself to start reading again, I just had to push myself to start doing it again. I knew that I’d feel motivated to write once I’d finally started! Sound familiar? It should because I wrote an entire blog post on motivation. Motivation doesn’t lead to action as most people think, nope! It’s the other way around; action leads to motivation which leads to more action and that’s exactly how I was able to start writing again. It feels great and my mental health has definitely improved a little bit since I started writing again.

Learning and improving languages 

I feel like this was a given if you’re already familiar with my blog, but I’m going to add this in for the newcomers! If you’re new, welcome! Yes… I know it’s a bit too late in the post to say that, but well.. yeah…some rules were meant to be broken! Anyway, all jokes aside, language learning is one of the things that I was able to stay consistent with without any exceptions! I don’t think I’ve missed a single day since the quarantine started and I’m very happy to say that. I know that’s not the craziest feat that a human has ever accomplished, but celebrating small wins is even more important during times like these! 

I started learning Russian… again… for the 6th… or… 7th time back in January and continued with it until I hit a plateau and decided to take a break from it in early April. I used the break time to brush up on my dying Italian. The original plan was to do this for a week before going back to Russian, but that week… has since become an entire month… oops…it was totally worth it though! Although I took a break from ACTIVELY studying Russian, I still made sure to spend a little bit of time getting passive input in through podcasts, YouTube videos and speaking with my language exchange partners. Actively studying Italian while passively learning Russian would’ve been extremely difficult if I was still working, but the quarantine has resulted in me having a lot more time than usual.

I recommend taking this time to learn what ever language it is that you’ve been putting off. Dedicating 30 minutes a day will restore at least some order and structure to your day and who knows, you may be able to surprise your Dutch friends by speaking Dutch to them at the next BBQ… whenever that is…

Exercising 

Exercise is extremely important when it comes to maintaining a healthy mind and body. All gyms are closed, so I just find myself coming up with creative ways to exercise at home and outside while avoiding other people. Exercise is the other thing that I was somehow able to stay consistent with. I didn’t really have any specific goals such as gaining 5 pounds of muscle or leaning out, nope, I just wanted to make sure that I was moving my body almost every day, so that I would stay healthy physically and mentally. I admit that I don’t always look forward to exercising and being active, but it’s literally keeping me sane. Many studies show that daily exercise leads to improved mental and physical health which is exactly why I kept at it… I also needed to do something to counter balance all the quarantine food I was eating. Ordering food online can be a little bit too easy at times… I learned that the hard way and that leads me into my final point! 

Avoiding toxic tendencies 

Losing the greater part of the routine that my life once consisted of caused me to fill some of the empty space with bad habits such as binge watching TikToks and Netflix series, ordering a lot of unhealthy fast food, scrolling through countless instagram posts and watching videos of other people playing Call of Duty: Warzone instead of just playing my damn self. None of these things are objectively bad in moderation, but I was spending way too much time doing all of these things. I actually caught myself feeling really shitty and empty while scrolling through TikToks and instagram posts a few times. Was this because I was comparing myself to the people I was seeing on the apps? Surprisingly not! It was how unfulfilling the act of just laying in bed and scrolling felt. I decided to force myself to spend less time doing all of the aforementioned things in favour of doing more things that I personally find fulfilling such as blogging, spending more time learning languages, calling friends etc. I even took a 4 day break from 95% of social media which felt AMAZING. I also SEVERELY reduced my consumption of fast food… I wasn’t really eating thaaaat much to begin with, but I reduced my intake in favour of healthier foods. Not giving into the temptation to go back on all these apps as much, eating healthier and forcing myself to be productive really made me feel SIGNIFICANTLY more fulfilled and just better overall. 

Conclusion 

Alright, so these are the things that I’ve been doing to try and stay on top of my mental health during the quarantine. I can’t promise that these things will work for everyone, but I hope that you guys can at least take a few ideas from this post. My only goal is to make your quarantine a little less lonely and painful if you’re struggling. If you’re doing fine and are just looking for some more hobby ideas, then that’s great too! I really hope that this post was able to help someone!

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I am NOT a medical or psychological professional. If you feel like you’re in a dark place or even just alone, depressed or anxious, please always remember that despite the fact that you may FEEL alone in your struggles, you are not alone. There are many resources online that can be accessed through a quick google search. There are people out there who’s job it is to help you. They really do care and so do your friends and family! You truly are NOT alone! 

This situation is hard and it has really really gotten to me just like it has to everyone else, but I try to always look forward and remember that I’m not alone. We’re all in this together! 

Thanks for reading!

This picture was taken near Machu Picchu in Peru!

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