When the current pandemic crisis reached U.S. shores, I, like much of the country, looked to our government for information. I overdosed on daily press briefings, stayed up-to-date on death tolls and leaned on my online community heavily. To stay sane, I turned to yoga classes on IGTV, virtual happy hours on Zoom, each and every booty-sculpting fitness class, that DJ D-Nice live session (Auntie Michelle arrived and I almost fainted in my bed) and VERZUZ, the online catalog battle between music legends powered by Swizz Beatz and Timbaland.
At first, the nonstop entertainment, born as a response to the pandemic, calmed my nerves, as Black culture tends to do. The music lifted my spirit, the workouts helped me sweat out the stress of uncertainty, and the nonstop Twitter jokes kept my mind distracted. But lately, the volume of content and constant connection has become overwhelming, only boosting my anxiety, not alleviating it.
If you’ve also felt the weight of being tapped into every new digital trend, maybe it’s time to put your phone down.
By now we’ve noticed that the way we use the Internet has changed. According to the New York Times, people who are stuck at home are looking to connect and entertain themselves without our phones. Facebook, Netflix and YouTube have seen their app engagement fall while attention to their respective sites has grown. But scrambling to ensure that our days are teeming with new hit series, Facebook meme shares, Instagram likes, our favorite celebrities in IG Live comments, and various mediums of online learning may actually be a problem.
Stillness heals and staves off boredom.
By now, roughly week four of self-isolation for most, boredom has set in. That said, it’s pretty normal human behavior to distract that difficult state of restlessness and even ourselves for that matter. Be that as it may, we are living in a new normal and it’s best to honor our feelings about these circumstances.
Every day, for 10 to 20 minutes or so, find a quiet place to sit and focus on your breathing and confront your daily emotions. Also, stop whenever you feel anxious, take a breath and ground yourself in the moment.
Mindfulness is a great way to cope with any unwelcome feelings of self-quarantine and maintain your clarity in unsettling times, says The Los Angeles Times. What’s more, it’s an effective way to get more in tune with yourself.
I’m a part of the fortunate population who is working from home. Unfortunately, this poses its own set of stressors.
Imagine juggling the fear of you or your loved ones becoming infected as you answer emails and crank out an 800-word essay. It can be pretty rough mentally, especially while the long-lasting effects of the coronavirus on our way of life have yet to be seen.
If you’re looking to be more productive, limit the white noise. Only use your devices for work then shut them off at a specific time each day. Also, capping your screentime can give you more time to finish those three books you’re reading simultaneously, think of new ideas for a passion project or simply sleep (yes, rest helps your focus, too).
Creative ways to keep your mind busy.
Sure, the Houseparty app is getting a ton of new attention. But have you tried to dust off your board games, puzzles and childhood fav games to keep your mind sharp? Reverting back to these simple pastimes can reawaken a forgotten side of yourself. Meeting parts of yourself—hobbies you once loved, untapped interests—again can only help you ride out this lockdown with your mental health in check.
Look to loved ones.
No matter what, we need human interaction. And if nothing else, this pandemic has given most of us a sense of increased gratefulness for our tribe and our communities at large.
Instead of exchanging tweets, call, FaceTime or, if they’re in the same household, spend quality time with your loved ones. Though conversations have become a little stale since not much else is going on other than the coronavirus, taking a few minutes to show that you care goes a long way.
All in all, do whatever makes you feel your best in an unharmful way. These are unprecedented times, so there’s no proper way to navigate this lockdown (outside of washing your hands and staying in the d*mn house). Just remember that you don’t have to fill up your day with “normal” activities because, believe it or not, things are never going back to the way they were before.