While being isolated or quarantined at home either alone or with your loved ones can sometimes feel scary or overwhelming, especially with all the changes that you are being called to make in all aspects of your life; you can actually use this time to empower yourself and others around you to come out of it healthier than ever – both physically and mentally. Think of it as a universal gift given to all to press that reset button that many of us in this world direly need but never had the chance or time before to do so. You can start by making a routine for yourself and challenging yourself to stick to it. Having a routine is extremely beneficial for your mental health. It provides structure to your life, reduces stress levels and let you be at your productive best. It acts as an anchor to keep you grounded even when everything around you feels chaotic. Here’s an example on how a routine would look like.
Wake up early. Of course this is easier said than done for the late risers. For those who find this difficult to do, here’s your chance to incorporate this powerful routine into your life. Tell yourself you are not what you were yesterday and at any given time of the day you have the ability to turn your life around. For starters, try keeping an alarm for half an hour earlier than you normally would do and wake up at this time for a week. Challenge yourself to get up as soon as the alarm rings and reward yourself for when you have managed to do this. And after a week slowly keep increasing the time till you achieve your desired goal. The trick to achieving this is to not make drastic changes too soon and then get disappointed that you haven’t achieved it but to build up slowly and not be too hard on yourself. Once you’re up, take that moment to thank the Universe, God, your own self or whatever you believe in for everything you have. It is believed that it’s the thoughts that you have just before you fall asleep and just after you wake up that impact your life the most; so use this window period wisely.
THE POWER OF GRATITUDE
Gratitude is scientifically proven to effectively increase happiness and reduces depression. An even better idea to follow would be to have a gratitude journal next to you and jot down at least three things that you are currently grateful for no matter what your situation is. Make it a critical thinking challenge to find at least three different things each day. Allow yourself to sit in that space of gratitude for some time and feel it before your feet touch the ground. It doesn’t matter what kind of life you are living and whether or not you are happy with where you are at the present moment. You can always find something to be grateful for and focusing on those things can help shift your mindset during these times. You might end the quarantine period more blessed than before if you choose to believe so and give gratitude for what you already have. Like Willie Nelson said “when I counted my blessings, my whole life turned around.” And if you really think about it, there are many out there who would give anything to have what you have now and unless you acknowledge the blessings you have, you cant proceed further. Its sometimes easy to forget that the things you take for granted, someone else is praying for.
You can also use this time in bed after waking up to do some lazy bed yoga. You can find some easy YouTube videos that show you how it’s done and unless you’re like me who needs to eat right after they wake up, this is a good time to incorporate some easy exercise into your life. Otherwise fix a time for later and do your exercise or yoga later in the day. For those who don’t exercise regularly, this is a brilliant time to start learning some moves. Many gym and fitness instructors are offering virtual classes right now. You could also put on some music and dance away your blues and energize yourself. Either way find a way to incorporate physical fitness into your routine and get yourself to stick to it regularly till it becomes a habit. Try keeping a fixed time everyday for half an hour or at least ten to fifteen minutes, if you’re not motivated to do so. This will help you stick to your routine. Exercise releases endorphins which can instantly uplift your mood and doing it till you break a sweat will help detox your body. Your mind and body will thank you for it in the long run. Even daily gardening and cleaning helps to make sure you are keeping yourself moving and does contribute to long term health.
CHANGING MIND PATTERNS
Now that you are out of bed, here’s what you need to do. Make your bed. As Charles Duhigg states in his book, “The Power of Habit,” making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” Making your bed is what he calls a “keystone habit,” something that kick starts a pattern of other good behavior. And since it happens at the very beginning of the day, you’re apt to make better decisions for the remainder of the day thanks to your bed-making routine. Simple yet powerful. Now that you’ve made your bed, which contributes largely to feeling more organized and thereby being more organized, here’s what you can do next. Ask yourself “why am I so blessed” for about ten times or more while you walk to the bathroom. This is called an afformation, an affirmation asked in a question form. This is a powerful psychological trick to get your brain to focus on the positive and not dwell on the negative. Regularly practicing gratitude and afformations can create miracles in your life and change it around for good. This you can do for any time of the day when you feel yourself being overwhelmed at anything. Imagine you have a headache and instead of constantly complaining and worrying that you have a headache, you can trick your mind by asking “why does my head feel so great?” Practicing this regularly can help you heal yourself of your ailments in the long run without having to pop that pill. Your mind can be a powerful tool if you know how to use it.
Once you are done brushing your teeth and freshening up, make sure to have a glass of water on an empty stomach. This helps flush out toxins and start your day with more energy. Do this regularly to make sure you start your day with good digestion. It is good for your skin too.
Next make sure you have a healthy breakfast. While it may be difficult now to follow your usual food habits, use this chance to eat healthy and cut down on snacks. People tend to rush to grains and canned food during quarantine, but try to rely on fresh produce at this time and use this chance to learn healthy easy cooking using YouTube tutorials. You could buy vegetables and fruits which can be cut up and stored in the freezer for a long time. You can use this when you are running low on stock. Sturdy vegetables and starches – like broccoli, Brussels, sprouts and sweet potatoes – also keep for a long time outside the freezer. Being in quarantine can trigger stress eating for many. For those who struggle with this, take this time to acknowledge that it is happening and choose to eat a healthy snack, drink water or distract yourself when you find yourself being pulled to the kitchen. Watching a movie or talking to a friend also helps.
Another common problem that people are facing now is stress and anxiety. One of the best things you can do to alleviate this is by meditating. This by far is one of the best things you can incorporate into your daily routine. If you are new to the concept of meditation, you can listen to guided meditations on YouTube which help you relax and teach you how to meditate and once you get the hang of it, it starts becoming a habit. You find yourself able to handle stress better and get to watch your anxiety slowly disappear. Another thing to watch out for nowadays is overexposure to news, social media and chaos which can create immense anxiety. Learn to notice when your body or mind is reacting to these things negatively. The instant you find yourself being affected, learn to switch off the source of negativity; be it your television, your phone, your family member or the neighbor across the fence who could be disrupting your peace. Have a quiet space in your house where you relax and wind off from social media and news. Create a space for yourself that you can retire to when things get too much.
There are so many ways to use this time that you’ve been given to develop a new habit, learn a new skill or try out that new hobby that you were always wanting to do. Try your hand at writing, drawing or cooking and you might be surprised at what you are capable of. Even the smallest thing that you create can boost your happiness quotient and give you a sense of accomplishment. Even if you screw up, try again. Practise makes perfect after all. Finally, try to wind up your day with a set bedtime and make sure your gadget is out of your hands for two hours or at least half an hour before bedtime. You can end your day with meditation and gratitude while on bed. Decide today that this quarantine is not going to be the end of you but a new beginning for you to develop as a person.