On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being totally normal and 1 being the very worst I’ve ever been, I’d say I’m at like a 3. I’m trying everything in my power to keep my thoughts “afloat” right now and there are moments of time where I feel relatively normal and then other times when I’m just… not okay. From checking in with friends, I’d say this is a pretty common feeling. That is, feeling everything mixed with not knowing how to feel.
I used to be a HUGE crier– like I would cry multiple times a day. From stress, from happiness, from watching a sad commercial. Sometimes it was just tears (and I’d wonder to myself why I even was crying) and other times it was uncontrollable like my emotion bucket just spilled over. Anything and everything, my reaction would be to cry. Once I started meditating, one of the “side effects” for me was that I all but stopped crying. Not that I’m unable to, but I’m just so much more in control of my emotions. I went from crying being my blanket reaction to crying rarely and at normal things that would usually elicit tears.
Right now I think I’m back in that murk and my brain is in emotion overload. It’s been emotionally taxing to keep up with news. To hear from friends in tough positions. To read social media posts of my friends in the medical field begging for medical supplies. All things considered, I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I am… and yet, I’m still just overwhelmed by it all.
Even though I’m not fully “okay,” I am trying my best to hold it together. Here are definitive things that are helping me stay sane:
1. Taking it one day at a time.
Everyone knows that I’m a bonafide control freak. This has become my motto though. I’m not even attempting to know what is coming to tomorrow or next week or next month. I am solely focused on today and getting through what I need to get done today. It’s a relief to know that just about everyone feels the same way, but if someone attempts to ask me about something (“when do you think…” “when will we….” etc.), I immediately respond with, “Let’s cross that bridge when we get there, I’m taking it one day at a time.” No one, including myself, has the answers.
2. Working until my laptop dies & then taking a break while it charges.
Work for me picked up a bit this week. I think people took last week to get their ducks in a row and to get their own offices up and running to work from home and everything. To be perfectly honest, I was terrified in not having anything to do, less for the business side of things and more because I didn’t think I could sit at home for an extended period of time with nothing to do.
I know I’m not mentally operating with all cylinders right now, so I’m trying to give myself grace. I usually can sit at my desk with my laptop and work without breaking, but I don’t have that capacity right now. I’ve been working with my laptop unplugged until it dies and that I know when I charge it, I also have to recharge myself.
3. Enjoying morning coffee and afternoon espresso.
I’ve always looked forward to my morning coffee, though I’ve been trying to savor that time even more so now. I have nowhere to be and a much, much looser schedule to follow so it’s okay if I sit with my coffee for 30 minutes and just… not do anything. Similarly, I’ve been breaking up my afternoons with a double shot of espresso. I’m like one of Pavlov’s dogs when I hear the machine fire up! I get so excited for that delicious shot.
4. Writing out to-do lists.
I live for my to-do lists on the best of days, so it’s no surprise how helpful I’m finding them now. I’ve always been pretty grateful to not have a boss, but I kind of crave someone just giving me a calendar full of Zoom meetings or telling me what to do for the day right now. I’ve been writing out my to-do list now the night before for the following day and I’m putting EVERYTHING on it. Even something as small as “unload the dishwasher.” Because of that the lists are super long, but it’s giving me a clear set idea of how the day will go. And since I’m doing them the night before, I can hit the ground running the next morning feeling super productive. Oh you showered and made your bed? Check, check. (And then I can move on to my usual work!)
5. Avoiding watching the news.
I probably should have made this the second bullet point. I’ve always hated the 24-hour news cycle and I hate even more now. I wish I could just turn on the news for 30 minutes and get the bullet points. Watching CNN people talk themselves in circles to fill an hour where nothing “new” has been released started to cause me to mentally spiral.
At one point I realized I had been sitting on the couch glued to the television for about two hours having learned absolutely nothing new but feeling like an elephant was sitting on my chest.
I’m sticking to getting my news online now– I’ve found that reading the news is significantly easier on my mental health than watching/listening to it. I walk away from a few articles feeling like I ~know~ what’s happening without feeling like I need to crawl into a hole while I wait for the pandemic to come to an end.
6. Texting with friends.
I’m talking to my friends more than ever right now and I LOVE it. Everyone’s working from home and I think the pace of work for everyone has slowed down a bit so there’s more time to just chat. Whether it’s checking in to see how someone is feeling, sharing a funny meme, or switching to FaceTime just to see their face. At any given moment, there is a fluttering of activity in the iMessage and I am even more grateful than ever to have the friends that I have.
7. Blow drying my hair.
For the first five or so days of self-quarantining, I didn’t blow dry my hair. It… was nice in a way, but I also felt sloppy which made me feel gross and then I felt extra down. It takes about 15 minutes to blow dry my hair (thank you Dyson) and that 15 minutes every other day is worth it.
8. Sitting in my car.
Let me just preface this by saying, I am ETERNALLY grateful we are not in that Hoboken basement apartment. Being in a house with extra space and all the natural light is the best. (This is my gratitude #1, see below.) Mike has taken to working downstairs and I work upstairs. Having rooms to go into and multiple bathrooms to “split” and doors to close for a little privacy has made this more than doable. Plus Mike and I have been having a good time and have the same attitude about the whole thing (strictly quarantining), so it’s so important to be on the same page.
With that said, sometimes I just want to feel…. alone. Away from the dogs, away from Mike. Not because I don’t love them, just because I want to “be.” I’ve climbed into my car a few times already just to recline the seat and do a meditation by myself. Or drive around the neighborhood for a bit to call my mom.
9. Saying gratitude prayers.
Focusing on things to be grateful for helps me keep my face towards the sun, so to speak. I really do have so much to be grateful for right now and I want to make sure I keep those things top of mind as I go about my day. It doesn’t “cure” that anxiety I’m feeling about the world, but it helps me stay afloat like little water wings.
10. Making plans for the future.
I don’t mean this to be making like… scheduled plans for the future. Even though I’m taking things one day at a time, I’ve been doing a great deal of personal reflection on what I want and what I need on the other side of this. It’s reshaping how I pictured things going. Things that felt incredibly important to me feel less so now. I’m taking good, hard looks at what is important to me. What I can do without. What I need more of. Big and little life things too.
I’ve been reading all these articles about how this pandemic and the almost guaranteed financial depression will reshape the world and America. I relate so hard. Right now so much of my life feels…. unimportant and even obsolete. My job would be at the very top of the “Not Essential” list. I have some people relying on me for income in some capacity but no full time employees to lead. I have no children to care for. In a way it’s a relief and in an another way it’s depressing.
11. Taking Instagram breaks.
I think more people are scrolling through Instagram and it’s led to a huge influx of Instagram DMs for me. Between that and seeing people on Instagram just gallivanting around town (and OMG if I saw one more person get on a PLANE) like nothing was going on nearly sent me over the edge. It overwhelmed me and I realized I need to be better about how often I was even opening the app. I can’t control what other people do, only what I do myself. And answering DMs is part of my job so I have to do it, but I can be more deliberate about when I do it and setting limits for it so it’s more manageable.
12. Showering and laundering a lot.
I’ve been taking (quick) showers at least twice a day and fully washing my body in case there are germs and it’s also been my go-to move when the panic becomes overwhelming. A three minute shower with hot water beating down on my body has really helped bring me back down to earth. (Plus I can cry in the shower without Mike getting super concerned 😂) And I’ve been washing our sheets and pillowcases and clothes and towels a lot. I usually wash our sheets once a week but now I’m doing it every few days in case we’re carrying germs with us? I have no idea if it’s doing anything and frankly we’ve been quarantined for long enough that we either had it and were asymptomatic or we haven’t had it and haven’t been exposed since staying home. But I’m washing our linens just in case. At the very least, it makes me feel in control? And I’m getting very good at putting the duvet on quickly.
13. Getting a full night’s sleep.
Another thing to be grateful for is that I have complete control over my schedule at the moment. I can go to bed when I want and wake up without an alarm. No meetings. No phone calls. No doctor’s appointments. No gym classes to make. No shoot days with my photographer. No commutes into the city. I’ve been letting myself go to sleep naturally and wake up naturally. I’ve been reading Why We Sleep so I’ve been running my own personal sleep experiments basically. Honestly, I feel amazing energy wise. On days when I’ve been more panicky than normal, I’m definitely emotionally exhausted which spills over into a physical exhaustion. But otherwise I’ve been feeling well-rested every morning. It’s giving me a good sense of how much sleep I actually need, when my body feels best waking up, and at one point in the night I’m actually tired.