While Netflix might be making a few extra million dollars this month, not everyone has had such positive experiences during the pandemic. Facing separation from loved ones is no easy task, and being alone with your demons for over a month is purgatory for some.
Rather than let the negative corners of my mind wreck havoc on the rest of my mental health, I turned quarantine into an experiment: how could I use this time to learn about myself? After all, such an extended amount of ‘frozen’ time like this will probably never happen again… hopefully.
So, after a few weeks of some ‘me, myself, and I’ time, here are my key takeaways:
I love learning new things. Call me a nerd, but I have a ‘life list’ of things I want to learn when I have spare time. Some of these include learning piano, learning Spanish, how to paint, and being a better cook. While I didn’t necessarily make a big dent in the whole ‘cooking’ thing, Spanish has been my main agenda and I think I could safely navigate my way around a Spanish speaking country if I got dropped there. There are so many ways to practice a language. Why not practice with all of this spare time? The process of learning a language is so fun, and is the perfect way to engage our minds while stuck inside.
On a more serious note, I did some intense reflecting on my eating habits. I realized that my relationship with and how I viewed food had become really negative. Instead of seeing food as fuel for my body, I just saw calories I’d have to burn off later. As a young woman flooded by images on social media of a million different ways a body ‘should’ look, trying to match a corset-like waist with voluptuous hips and booty is just not possible for most of us. You’d have to pull some Jurassic Park DNA altering magic for my body to look like that. (And we can’t forget the boys – we know you are equally susceptible to society’s intense standards!)
It took some time and emotional digging to fully understand why it was that I was feeling this way, but it’s an important mindset that will affect the rest of my life. When working out and eating healthy, I feel strong and happy. Food keeps me alive and provides me with energy to do the things I love. It’s about how I feel, not how I look! This is a struggle that many people face, especially women, so I think that this is an important message to share.
During this time of solitude and reflection, I also learned that it’s okay to not feel happy all the time. There were moments when I felt guilty for being upset because I was living in conditions better than a lot of other people. For this reason, I shrugged my feelings off as invalid, which inherently intensified my emotions because I wasn’t able to acknowledge them. I learned that it was perfectly acceptable to feel sad, upset, or even angry. When we acknowledge our feelings, we can begin to understand them and learn how to live with them.
While it still remains unclear when ‘the end’ of this pandemic will be, it’s so important that we remember to be kind to ourselves. There are moments when it seems so easy to let those whispering negative voices into my mind, but step by step, one positive counter-thought at a time, I am working towards a kinder, stronger self. I hope that sharing my experience will help others, too.