Updated: Apr 27
If you’re reading this, you may be looking for ways to stay busy during the coronavirus quarantine. You may be feeling some guilt because you haven’t been producing, working, or doing as much as people seem to be on social media.
There are tons of articles out right now about “How to be Productive During Quarantine” or “100 Things to do During Self-Isolation”. Staying busy might help in the short term, but you face the possibility of serious burnout.
What we should be asking is, how do we take care of ourselves during the COVID-19 crisis? It is only when we get back to basics and care for our foundation that we can build something greater.
1. Remember that being is enough
We have to remember that our worth and joy shouldn’t be attached to accomplishments. It is enough just to be here.
Meditation is one way to learn more about just being. If the word meditation intimidates you or makes you roll your eyes, let’s try mindfulness instead.
Mindfulness means filling your mind with what is right in front of you, activating all the senses with the moment at hand. It’s about being in the present moment, without worrying about the past or the future.
Scrolling through social media, making to-do lists, taking online classes, starting your new business venture, trying to save the planet, or making a million dollars from your computer? Those things don’t count. You need to be able to notice what’s around you and what you are doing, without judgment.
These quiet moments are the perfect time to listen for whatever your brain has been putting away or afraid to ask for. They’re the perfect time to recharge and give your eyes, ears, and mind a break. You can decide what else to do with your time without guilt or judgment because you’ve started from a place of peace.
2. Grow your own food
Connecting with the Earth by growing your own herbs, fruits, and vegetables is a great way to work on yourself. Playing with the ground is ground-ing. It will bring you back to noticing the tiny miracles that happen when you tend to another living being.
The living enzymes, nutrients and other compounds found in living foods are essential to proper digestion, absorption, elimination, immunity, and health. Unfortunately, virtually none of these delicate compounds can survive the heat of cooking and most commercial processing. Many begin to decompose as soon as the food is harvested.
I am fortunate enough to have a front yard where I can grow food. If you are in an apartment without access to the ground, you can grow some veggies near a window. If you’re in the northern hemisphere, a south-facing window is best, because the sun’s rays are more powerful from that direction. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, choose a north-facing window. If you don’t have windows facing the right direction, you’ll need to put your plants outside or buy artificial lighting.
Lettuce, chard, and kale can be grown indoors or in small containers on a porch or balcony. These greens are quick growers with shallow roots, so they won’t need deep containers. Press seeds into damp soil and spray daily until they sprout in about one week.
Alternatively, buy a head of romaine lettuce from the market with the roots attached, cut off the greens, and plant the roots in the soil. It’ll grow back again and again! Wait until the plant is four to six inches tall before harvesting, and always harvest the leaves from the outside so the plant can continue to grow from the inside.
3. Move your body
Get your heart pumping! Don’t do it for a “summer body”, to impress anyone, or to hit a goal. Move to have fun, move to laugh, move to soak up the sun and play with your muscles. Turning on your favorite playlist and dancing around the house is a great way to get moving. I’ve been learning new dance moves and practicing them with my favorite feel-good songs.
Look at movement as a form of entertainment. Focus on finding joy and energy, rather than reaching a number on the scale. Whether you’re jogging, skipping rope, lifting weights, stretching, or dancing, try to shoot for that fun, no-judgment feeling.
Remember when you were a kid? When you ran around outside with boundless energy because you could? That’s what we’re going for. Move because you can, because the universe put molecules together in just the right order to form you. Use your body to honor that miracle.
4. Keep a journal
The Coronavirus and this time of isolation are some of the defining moments of our lifetime. This is the time the world shut down. This is the time Mother Earth had a chance to recover a little bit. This is the time you had two seconds to think about why you’re alive, and what you’ll do with your time moving forward. This is history. Write yours down.
I’ve been journaling most mornings, even one page is helpful if you’re just getting started. I find that three pages give you enough room to really explore at least one thought from several angles. Don’t get caught up in having a specific topic to write about. If nothing comes to mind, it’s fine to keep a record of what you’re doing with your day, what you put in your coffee, or how many cars are passing by.
The Morning Pages exercise is something I learned from the book The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. The Morning Pages was originally designed to help artists break through their creative blocks. Journaling is valuable for every aspect of life, from creative pursuits to daily stressors. Writing provides a space for you to feel compassion for yourself because you can look at your experience with a bit of distance, rather than being stuck in your head.
This process is helpful for anyone looking to add clarity, focus, and direction into their lives. Writing gets your thoughts onto paper so you can look at them and try to make sense of them, or realize they don’t make any sense and allow yourself to move on with your day. At the very least, this exercise will allow you to look back on this especially significant chapter of your life.
5. Try something new
Many people have been calling this an apocalypse. We’re taught that an apocalypse is defined as a catastrophic end of our world, but that wasn’t the original meaning. The word apocalypse comes from the Greek word apokalupsis, meaning to uncover or reveal. It’s time to reveal your true self and uncover your true talents.
Is there something you’ve always wanted to learn or get better at? Something that you believe would set your soul on fire, but you have felt too small, too inexperienced, or too afraid to try? Be okay with being a beginner. Learning this will open so many doors that you thought were closed because oh, I could never be good at that, or I don’t have the time.
Now is the time to give your dreams a chance. This doesn’t mean it’s time to run yourself ragged, over-committing to a million tasks. Research one thing you’ve wanted to try, so you can take the mystery out of starting. Still afraid? Remember the joy of not knowing, of being a kid and learning something for the first time. Learn to sing your ABC's backward. Learn to do a cartwheel. Try painting.
You can do it because you were made to do it. You can do it because you were made in the image of the universe, with infinite possibilities inside you. It’s better to know in your heart that you gave it a shot than to let time pass and never know what you might have learned, what you might have loved.
I hope these tips have inspired you to focus inward on ways to practice self-care during this crisis. We all have a much better chance of finding happiness, inspiration, and success when we come from a place of mental clarity, non-judgment, and health. Productivity can feel wonderful, but not at the expense of your mind, body, or spirit. By starting with these simple tasks you can grow and produce from a place of inner peace.