[If you are more visual, scoll down for video link on YouTube]
The worst part about being in quarantine is the fact that I’ve come so far in managing my mental health. Stress, caring about what other people think, and self-sabotage were all things I was struggling with until I finally decided to take control of it and make some changes. Depression was a big one as well. My mind was always clouded, and my mind was full of dark thoughts. I joined a gym, I interacted with new people, I spent time alone when I needed it and I took on new hobbies that had nothing to do with my blog or YouTube.
Since the quarantine began, I have had two panic attacks. I used to make fun of people in high school for having a panic attack. I didn’t understand how someone could freak out over nothing. Now I understand it’s not just nothing. The first one was when I got into the car to get some food. When I got in the car, I felt like my world had gotten smaller. Negative thoughts had been flooding my mind that night about the reality of the situation and as I sat in the car, I couldn’t catch my breath. My driver (I don’t have a car) assumed it was only one thing.
Shortness of breath is a symptom of Coronavirus, and at this time it’s understandable that someone would confuse that symptom with what I was feeling. But I’ve been here before and knew it could only be one thing. I needed air and I wasn’t getting it. I rolled down the window and I hung out the door like a dog waiting for the wind to blow in my face. I breathed deeply, I breathed slowly, then I cried.
The second time was at 2 am. I woke up hot and unable to breathe again. I drank water, but I felt trapped. I wanted to run down the street, maybe go for a quiet walk, but I couldn’t (2 am is super sketchy anyway). I sat at the open door for fresh air and breathed deeply, I breathed slowly.
Before lockdown, I was able to deal with any stressors or negative thoughts that filled my mind by interacting with positive people, ignoring social media, going to the gym, and indulging in hobbies that have nothing to do with my blog or YouTube channel. Since quarantine began, I have struggled with keeping up my mental health. It’s now been over two weeks since the quarantine began and without an end to this lifestyle in sight, I’ve decided to finally take control, assess the situation, and ensure that I get out of this quarantine with a bright smile.
I know it’s not travel talk, but mental health and travel is something I’ve found go hand in hand especially since it’s something that I’ve been dealing with for a while now. I think it’s important to talk about it since so many of us are used to leaving whenever we feel the need to escape.
Here’s how I am managing my mental health, and hopefully these can help you manage yours as well:
Spend Time Alone
If you’re sheltering in place with roommates or family members, remember that it’s still important to get your alone time in. That doesn’t mean looking at your phone alone while everyone else is doing something else. It means physically being alone in a separate room where you can write, draw, or simply be by yourself. Take this time alone to think positive thoughts and remind yourself what you are grateful for.
Exercise increases endorphins and can have a calming effect on your mood. There are plenty of at-home workouts that can be done, and a lot of gyms/trainers are doing free workouts for everyone at home. Also, in the state of California, we are still allowed to leave the house if we are going for a run or working out.
Reduce/Avoid caffeine or alcohol
Reduce/Avoid caffeine or alcohol– Honestly, I still dabble in both, but I have greatly reduced my intake from what it previously was. Caffeine increases heart rate and being stuck inside can make it feel like you’re in a small confined space with nowhere to move, which is the enemy of being highly caffeinated (I’m caffeine sensitive). Alcohol dehydrates you and is a depressant, so even if you feel good at the moment, you definitely will feel down the next day.
Make your bed
This may seem strange, but the bed is the biggest area of your room. It will make your space feel calmer and like you’ve accomplished something for the day. It will also reduce the temptation to get right back in bed and stay there.
Don’t forget to breathe
Take some time to breathe deeply with your eyes closed. Breathe with intention, feeling the air enter your lungs and slowly leave them again. Count to four while you breathe in, pause, and count to four again as you breathe out. Try to breathe in the fresh air, even if you are standing at your open door or window.
Drink a lot of water
Sitting on the couch and being inside all day, we can forget that we still need to drink plenty of water. Drinking water can create a feeling of relaxation and helps manage anxiety, which can be a symptom of dehydration. Eight eight oz of water per day is usually recommended but may differ depending on your weight and size.
Show some love to someone else
Call your family members, your best friends, your go-to person that makes you laugh no matter what. Try not to talk about the current situation. Sometimes talking to someone you care about can really lift your mood. Don’t forget to tell them you love them.
Write in your journal, paint, color, or anything creative that you can do in your house. I started a bullet journal and it’s really been nice to focus on creating my own shapes and lines. The (creative) world is your oyster.
Limit Your News Intake
Whether it’s from social media, from CNN, or reading news articles, don’t take in too much. While it’s good to stay informed, too much can stress you out and really weigh on your spirits. I’d say keep updated every few days.
Bonus Tip: If you are feeling sad, it’s okay to stay sad for a day. We are all human and we all have emotions. Sometimes we need to address what we are feeling in order to get past it. Realize that you are deeply, deeply sad, cry, and throw on your favorite show/movie or listen to your music and just be sad. Let it pass over you and then do one of the tips from above. Don’t feel like you need to change the world at that moment. Just focus on the way you’re feeling and you’ll be able to move on.
Staying inside is worrisome for a lot of people, but it can be even more confining if you’re like myself who tends to let my thoughts wander into the darkest corners of my mind. Work (remember, I bartend to pay for all my travels) was my own form of escape because it was my job to be a happy, energetic person so I had to focus a lot of my energy into being that person everyday. It took some time for me to adjust to this new lifestyle, but with the tips and tricks I listed above, I’ve been able to control my thoughts and reduce my panic attacks and I hope that they can serve you as well.
Watch the Video!
Remember, we are not staying outside and missing out on life, we are staying inside to save the future of our world.