Written by Anna Wang.
COVID-19 is really weighing down on our mental health in the following ways: 1) Social isolation, 2) Work-related anxieties (whether people are experiencing issues adjusting from WFH or have lost their jobs) and 3) anxieties due to uncertainty of the pandemic’s prognosis and its impact on the economy.
I now have friends who haven’t left their apartments in crowded cities like Toronto and New York for 24+ days, alone. I felt like the first month of quarantine had passed by quickly because for most of it I spent glued in front of my computer working on weekdays from the moment I wake up till the moment I fall asleep, often typing away late into the night with my laptop on my bed. Although being overworked and stressed are not the ideal state I’d like to be working from home, I am glad that I’m still working, unlike so many others who have been laid off or potentially falling into such fate as the economy continues to cripple by the response to the pandemic among other factors. I think what has been bothering me the most is that I don’t know when this will end and whether we will ever return to the “normality” that I used to know. Despite my fears, I have spent the past 3 weeks in relatively good spirits, especially on the weekends and have been able to find replacement activities for both social and personal time.
What’s been my “gold” lining so far?
Well, first, the literal golden dusting off of my creative arts hobbies — left on the shelf of my long to-do list since Christmas 2018. I ordered a new metallic paint collection earlier this week, and wallah, a golden rendition of a 1950s Dior dress, completed. It was therapeutic, a lot of fun and now it graces the art corner of my wall, right on top of my digital piano.
Secondly, on the fitness end, I did get a chance to improve my cardio with more consistent runs, as my one 30 minute break outdoors at night almost 5x a week. Now that my first love, aerial silks is no longer accessible and I lack the space to do many activities indoors, I rejoice in running. Although the 10k run my friends and I were about to sign up to has been changed to a “virtual” edition, this new paradigm has forced me to work way harder towards it than I would’ve otherwise. In fact, ever since mid-week of WFH week 1, I even started trying new youtube, peloton workouts and signing up for online classes over Zoom with my good friend from New York. Now I get to work out, get that social accountability to do so and do it with someone physically far, but now socially close, to ensure the success of this habit.
Lastly, the lack of “movement” time, getting on the subway or uber to travel across the city, booking tables at restaurants and prepping my makeup, which normally stood in the way between me and social gatherings, actually allows me to attend more social outings, virtually. For example, just tonight I’d attended 3 gatherings, while making dinner, with 3 groups of friends and 12 people in total. We drank, laughed a ton, played fun, group doodling games (such as fake artists) all in one night. Given it’s now so easy and socially acceptable to connect briefly with even very distant friends over a quick video, I feel more social than ever!
The main takeaway thus far?
1) Take the extra time indoors, away from the normal cadence of weekend activities and “movement” time to do something good for yourself.
2) Combat social isolation by connecting with friends via multiple channels and for various purposes (happy hours, daily workouts, catch-ups over videos, coffee breaks during the day… physical distance, and instead embrace “social closeness”).
3) Add new things to look forward to in your life weekly, despite the uncertainty of longer-term plans and old routines you may no longer be able to subscribe to. Look for even little things like trying a new recipe, learning a new skill (dance, language, hobby), or meditating.