Practice is always the key word in life, and it is especially key while you’re in quarantine. Despite all of the skills and talents we have, none of us are quarantine experts.
I’ll be honest. Before this, my only experience with the word “quarantine” was from watching Leonardo Di Caprio play Howard Hughes in The Aviator (Q-U-A-R-A-N-T-I-N-E…quarantine). Yep, that’s all I’ve got.
Even if we had a mindfulness practice pre-COVID, most of our healthy habits went out the window when the pandemic escalated. Here are a few things that are working for me that might work for you.
1. Do What You Can
Ah, motivational pressure. Leave it to us humans to pressure ourselves into achieving everything while we’re locked down during a global pandemic.
Go easy on yourself. As a society, we have become addicted to busyness. COVID made us slam on the brakes. But that didn’t stop us from trying to fill our isolation time with our desires to complete tasks and “achieve.”
Work harder so you don’t get laid off, learn a new language, write that book, remodel your kitchen, organize your sock drawer…come on, what’s your excuse? You’ve got all the time in the world right now.
My friend Jessica at Travel Solo Anyway wrote a fantastic article that I highly recommend reading: You’re not working from home, distance-learning, or anything else right now. She stresses the importance of using this time to do what you can, versus trying to do everything while dismissing the reality that we are in the midst of a global health crisis.
2. Limit Media Consumption
I don’t know about you, but I was pretty far removed from mainstream media consumption pre-COVID. I grew up with my dad reading the paper. I watched the morning news on TV while eating my Cap’n Crunch. Each day started with death and despair, peppered by an anticlimatic Southern California weather forecast.
Most of us have fallen into the habit of consuming COVID news morning, day, and night—myself included. We want to know what’s going on, because we’re freaking out. Too much media consumption is not helping our cause.
Limit your media consumption.
I’m at a point now where I only allow myself to scan the LinkedIn Daily Rundown. I also don’t do this first thing in the morning anymore. I do happy things for at least two hours before checking it—meditation, a few sun salutations, Qigong, coffee, cats, writing—then, I’m able to handle the hard stuff.
Tread lightly on social media as well. Social is one of the few ways we can stay connected during these times. Yet, staying connected also means we are facing social feeds that are covered in the mainstream media you’re trying to limit and the wildly differentiating opinions of others.
By limiting your media consumption, you will notice a major difference in your mood and productivity levels. I worked on this particular mindfulness practice one week and I actually got shit done.
3. Pick up the Phone
Before the COVID quarantine, calling people felt socially presumptuous—even with our loved ones. I texted family members a week or two in advance to schedule phone catch-ups. I stopped calling friends altogether, because social media likes and comments were the less intrusive way to “stay in touch.”
Well, fuck all of that. Pick up the phone…and turn on the video cam while you’re at it.
Most people are available and reachable right now—your family member that’s 2,000 miles away and your friend that’s 2 miles away. People will gladly pause work productivity mode to enjoy a comforting distraction. Parents will seize the opportunity to have an adult conversation.
4. Keep Your Marriage Healthy
Marriage is something married people are perpetually working on. In quarantine, couples are navigating uncharted waters in their relationship. Some have never worked from home together. Suddenly, you are both all up in each other’s business.
Right now, you are working on your relationship like never before. In a recent blog of mine, I shared several quarantine tips to help you keep your marriage healthy. Here’s a quick rundown:
- Give each other space.
- Don’t be too distant.
- Keep the romance alive.
- Be kind to each other.
- Cherish your time together.
5. Keep Yourself Healthy
Keep yourself healthy is rule #1 of practicing mindfulness, whether you are quarantined or not. Before you can take care of anyone else, you need to take care of yourself.
Again, the motivational pressure comes into play. You’re thinking: I have more time to take care of myself, but I don’t always feel like doing it. I don’t have the energy to do a tough workout. I can’t meditate, because I’m too distracted. I don’t feel like cooking, so I ordered takeout…for the second time this week.
Dude, it’s okay.
Part of taking care of yourself is taking it easy on yourself. This quarantine has brought epic highs and lows that we are all battling. Just be mindful of how you’re fighting the battle.
Are you boozing it up too much? Are you sleeping too much? Are you skipping too many workouts? Check-in with yourself. When you are ready to work out, the good news is that there are more online classes than ever before.
For yogis and dancers, I know just how much you miss going into the studio to take class with your people. Chances are that your local studios are offering some type of online classes during the quarantine. This is a great way to feel that sense of connection with your wellness community while taking care of yourself.
If you need a couple of great dance and yoga options, consider two of my wellness staples here in Milwaukee…Danceworks and YogaOne.
- Danceworks – Offering “pay what you can” Facebook Live classes. Take the class live with the community or at your own pace by accessing their growing Facebook video library. Ballet barre, barre workout, tap, and hip hop for all ages.
- YogaOne – Offering paid live Zoom classes. Once you register, you can take the class live with the community or take it later with the link you receive by email. Vinyasa, Hatha, Yin, and Yoga Basics for all levels.
I can vouch for the instruction at both of these studios. I used to teach and take class at Danceworks. I attended a yoga teacher retreat with YogaOne in Costa Rica. The people that run and teach at these studios are all fab.
6. Listen to the Birds
I’ve lived in the city for 15+ years. Now, during this madness, I find myself surrounded by a new beautiful world where birds rule (not in a Hitchcock kind of way).
I recently moved back to Milwaukee after living in Portland for 6 years. I live about a block away from Lake Michigan and there are gulls everywhere. I noticed the gulls when I lived here 6 years ago, but not like this. I even hear them in the middle of the night and I wake up smiling, thinking I am by the sea.
Have you heard birds like this before? I know I haven’t. Traffic is at an all-time quiet, leaving the birds to serenade us with their chosen playlist. When all else fails, just listen to the birds.
7. Listen to Yourself
This goes back to #1 of “do what you can” and it goes for everyone. But, I’d like to share something specifically for creators, since there are so many of you that read this blog.
If you legitimately feel a creative urge, then do something about it. Create something—share it with others or keep it all to yourself. Embrace the days you don’t feel like creating just as you much as embrace your creative days.
Even if you are not creating, you are still fueling creativity through feelings and observations. Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t expect everything you create to be decent. Don’t create for the sake of creating. Listen to yourself and give yourself a pass.
8. Look Inside the Big Picture
Every day in quarantine, my friend Julie at Les Petits Pas de Juls has taken unbeatable photos of Paris as part of a Projet Confinement (Isolation Project) she and other photographers have been participating in. Today she is on Day 53.
I have followed Julie’s travel photography blog for many, many years. Since she is an adventure traveler, the kind who skydives by herself and backpacks through South America, I’m used to seeing her capture the big picture—like expansive landscapes and jaw-dropping viewpoints.
During quarantine, Julie is capturing the “small picture” with her unbeatable photos of Parisian quarantine life. Rather than a view of the ocean, we see her small apartment window. Rather than mountain peaks, we see colored rooftops. Her perspective is completely different.
I think we can all learn something here. How much of our lives have we spent focused on the big picture? We have ignored the small, beautiful details that make the picture what it is.
Now we have the opportunity to look inside—to find new ways to practice mindfulness, to carry this experience with us so that we appreciate what we have…what’s been there all along.