This time last year, most of us were probably planning Christmas get-togethers with friends, filling our December calendars with dinners, drinks, and parties to celebrate the holiday season.
November weekends would have been marked with window shopping for gifts and party outfits, some little get-togethers that didn’t make it to our packed December schedules, and taking in all the holiday spirit in the thousands-worth of decorations in the malls and the chillier –ber month breeze. But this year isn’t looking like any of the previous ones we enjoyed.
At the beginning of quarantine, everyone was going on and on about how we could all take care of our mental health at this difficult time. But we think the most difficult period for all of this is right now, when the world outside is changing to bring in the usual holiday cheer, but we’re not there to experience its magic. The longer we stay locked up inside our homes, the heavier it feels—the harder cabin fever hits.
To keep us all in relatively high sprits until this all blows over, here are a few things to do or reflect on in this season of giving (give some good vibes for yourself too):
TALK ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS
Perhaps the hardest thing about all of this is that we can’t go out to and meet our friends and loved ones, especially when we just need to vent over a bottle of ice cold beer to cap off the day. In effect, our usual outlets to blow off steam are blocked, and our frustrations stay locked up inside our heads—also in quarantine.
But it’s important to let them out, even if it’s only through Zoom calls and virtual hang-outs. Through this, we can also see that we’re not the only ones feeling this way at this time, and all of our friends are also on the same suffocating boat as us.
One of the best ways to take care of our own mental health is to acknowledge our feelings, and share them with others who might be going through the same thing.
TAKE A BREAK
If it’s from work, or from school, taking a personal day off is always a good idea. Our capacity for pressure and stress is a lot more blown up these days, and the fact that we see the same things each and every day isn’t helping either. Take a few hours or days to yourself if your schedule allows it, and do things that will make you happy and more relaxed.
GET OFF SOCIAL MEDIA (ONCE IN A WHILE)
More often than not, it’s the noise of social media that’s cluttering our heads with unimportant, and sometimes harmful, information. Sure, we need to be informed of national issues and what’s happening around the world, but taking a few hours or days off of the virtual world to take care of ourselves is perfectly valid as well.
Especially if it’s all the recent news and current affairs that are making you feel more depressed and anxious. This also ties well together with taking a break, as the perfect break would be one that just leaves you in your happy place, with no distractions.
Being active doesn’t necessarily mean exercise, although that’s a huge help too to get your happy hormones going. If exercising doesn’t help you, though, being active can also mean just doing something. That can mean gardening, knitting, playing video games, cooking, baking, dancing, playing with pets, etc.—or basically anything that gets your body moving and away from your phone.
Doing something with our hands requires a different level of attention and present-ness that can effectively distract us from thinking anxious or depressing thoughts.
A big part of the anxiety and demotivation we’re going through amidst this pandemic is connected to the feeling of not being able to do anything as the world crumbles. It’s seeing all the families affected by the virus, unemployment, and typhoons, and thinking that there’s nothing we can do to change that.
But, there is one thing (and probably the only thing) we can do, and that’s to donate. It may feel like a small amount, or that our contribution is nothing compared to others’ loss, but it can still help out, even if it’s for just one meal or one hot drink. At least, we can do something to feel like we’re making a difference, no matter how small.
Given how long it’s been since we were able to freely go out of the house for some fresh air, or meet up with our friends for late night snacks, it’s understandable that the majority of us are finding it harder and harder to take care of our mental states. Because at this point, most of us are probably already too tired to try.
But it always helps to remember that these are temporary realities, and although none of us know when things will go back to “normal,” there’s still the certainty that things will not always be like this.
“There’s a rainbow always after the rain,” as our good pals from Southborder once sang, and that’s exactly what we need to remember right now. Hopefully, the dream of next Christmas looking a lot more normal can fuel us to get through this time in one piece.