The 5 things that have helped me through the first year of Covid-19.
The coronavirus has impacted all of us in different ways. In my case, covid has limited my ability to see my parents, forced me to miss family funerals, and caused six months of unemployment. I’ve also been pretty bored at times. And while I definitely wouldn’t say that I have thrived during the last 12 months, I have survived. And here’s how:
My top 5 quarantine tips:
Spark your creativity
One of the hardest side effects for me during covid has been a diminished creative spark. I used to have ideas and questions constantly flowing through my brain! The world was colorful and 3D! But covid has made everything more dull and flat. So I have had to push myself more to find things that spark my creativity.
Podcasts and documentaries are a big source of inspiration for me. Even listening to Taylor Swifts latest albums have been inspiring because she wrote and recorded them during covid! Now that is someone who isn’t facing a creative block.
Since launching my newest blog Sweden and Me, I have pushed myself to write a post each week. While it can feel like a chore to sit down and write after a full day or feel like “work” during my weekend, I never regret it and always have fun once I get going. I find that it is helpful to remember that creativity doesn’t always come knocking, but it definitely won’t come inside if no one is there to answer the door. Sitting down to do the work is my way of being ready to answer.
Need a podcast recommendation? I love Armchair Expert, both of Brené Brown’s and Esther Perel‘s, and Deliciously Ella‘s. And if you are looking to get some creativity inspiration, I can really recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.
I also have been pushing myself to learn some thing new. In my case, it has been languages. I have been studying Swedish since moving here 2.5 years ago, but have been more committed in the last six months. Each week I get on additional Zoom calls for my virtual svenska klass. It is hard and also really rewarding to see how far my Swedish has come.
I am also getting back into Spanish. I am a quarter Mexican and feel like I have drifted away from the language and a part of my heritage since my grandmother passed away. In our weekly calls, we often spoke Spanish and since her passing I haven’t practiced it as much. I have actually enjoyed practicing Spanish on Duolingo so much more than I could have expected! But it definitely has been confusing to try to learn Swedish and brush back up on my Spanish at the same time!
Move your body
It doesn’t have to be a marathon! A walk will do because a little movement never hurt anyone. In fact, it always has benefits. I have spent most of the last 12 months walking every day. Whether for 20 minutes or 60, walks have become a highlight of my typical day. I usually bring an audio book along with me and pass by a park so I can see the Swedish toddlers playing in their cute marshmallow outdoor suits. It is an instant mood booster. I feel so grateful to live in a city filled with so many parks and green spaces. Find some parks or nice walking streets in your neighborhood and get out there too.
And walking also helps with creativity! If I am in a rut, a walk is a great cure-all. I am sure to leave my headphones at home and be present in nature. But I do bring my phone with me so I can jot down ideas when they strike!
Yoga has been my other big source of movement during the last 12 months. I am lucky enough to have a studio 10 minutes away that is open and safe. The classes are a very limited size (8 people) and often not fully booked, especially during the lunch hour and weekends. I prebook 3-4 classes a week and find that if I prebook I am much more committed to completing my workout than if I try to sign-up the day of or follow along to a video on YouTube. Somehow watching Netflix always sounds more fun.
Another tip: Don’t move your body. I am sure that I am not the only one who has felt the need for additional sleep over the last year. When things feel especially depressing, sad, disappointing, and lack-luster, I think the best thing I can do for myself is get an extra hour of sleep.
It is so easy to loose touch when you are not geographically near to others. And Zoom Fatigue is ~real~. But don’t let lack of proximity stop you from connecting with others. It is a vital life source for us as humans and we are meant to be social. I know I miss it.
I was reading a great book recently – The Blue Zones of Happiness – and it said that the happiest people in the world get an average of six hours of social time a day with people they like (be it family, friends, coworkers, or a partner). While most of my daily social quota is currently being fulfilled by my partner, I have really tried to prioritize other relationships too.
My best tip? Schedule walk-and-talks: monthly social date with a good friend where were each take a walk as we talk. Fresh air, exercise, and good times with loved ones. A triple threat against the covid blues.
Therapy has also been a great way to better connect with myself. As I said in this post, starting therapy couldn’t have come at a better time (February of 2020). After completing a full year with my therapist, I’ve really seen some amazing benefits. It has been a place to process everything that came with 2020 and I have felt more in touch with who I am and who I want to be because of it. Consider seeing if your insurance or employer covers some therapy sessions. If you are in Sweden, read my blog on Sweden and Mental Health to learn more.
Without travel, date nights at restaurants, birthday parties, or weddings, it can feel like I have nothing to look forward to. To combat this, I have tried finding small things that I enjoy and make rituals out of them. The biggest example of this has been meditation. While I have meditated on and off for years, it wasn’t until my therapist pushed me to do it more consistently that I fully committed. Now I am 5 days away from a 100 day streak, so I guess you can say the habit has stuck.
I really enjoy the ritual of meditating first thing in the morning, when things are quiet and the rush of the day hasn’t yet set in. To make the experience more special, consider lighting candles, brewing tea, or listening to the birds chirping outside your windows.
Reflect on how you can make rituals out of small things. Such as walking to a bakery every Saturday morning for some fresh bread for the weekend. And bonus points here as it helps local business! Or go back to our childhood days with Saturday morning cartoons and put on a special show you only watch during the weekend. Nick and I love to watch Somebody Feed Phil during the weekends while we eat breakfast. Take/expand on Nick’s idea of Saturday Night Candlelight – a candlelit dinner every Saturday night. Buy yourself fresh flowers every Wednesday. Go for a hike the last Monday of every month. Or treat yourself to a glass of wine every Friday. Or start a cocktail challenge.
Whatever it may be, you may too find that creating rituals is a simple way to have something small to look forward to or to create simple pleasure in everyday moments.
Find an escape
And sometimes we just need a break from it all! Books have been my great escape during the last year as travel has been off the table. I read 75 books in 2020 and have 25 complete for 2021 so far, so it seems that I have needed to escape often. Books are a great source of comfort and inspiration, and are the ultimate solo activity IMO – perfect for these quarantine times.
So there you have it – five ways I’ve coped with these crazy times. Hopefully something here resonated with you too.
What are your top quarantine tips? Let us know in the comments below.