Your Mental Health Checklist: 5 Questions To Ask Yourself While In Quarantine
How much time do you spend with yourself? If you are alone this might seem like a ridiculous question, because the obvious answer is “24/7”, right? Or if you are spending this movement control order with family, it might be hours in a day. However, the reason you need to ask yourself this is because social media and isolation make it easier to consume information without processing it. By processing, I mean: a) understanding how it makes you feel and b) making a decision about the information you are given. Do you just scroll past? Do you fact check and read more about it? Does it make you want to share the information on your own platform? Does it make you want to take action (i.e. donate, helo, etc). With the amount of time we have to scroll through social media as we #dudukrumah, it’s just as easy to be overwhelmed with outside information and the emotions and thoughts of others. Instead of letting the outside in, why not look outside from within? It is important to know why you are feeling the way you are, what you want and how you are going to achieve your wants.
It’s okay to not always know what we want; it’s okay to feel like you are drifting. What’s not okay is allowing yourself to continue drifting because you are your own anchor. Let’s use this time to ask ourselves great questions so we can live a great life.
1. What do I feel grateful for today?
Starting with the positives will keep you positive all the way through. In the face of a global pandemic, it is so so so easy to focus on the bad. Not only that, whether you’re suddenly finding yourself out of work or juggling work and family and disinfection, the bad thoughts have more than enough space to slither into your mind. But, you know what, it’s okay if you don’t manage to answer every single email in your inbox. It’s okay if you forgot to water your plants today. It’s okay if you failed to learn something new today. Sometimes, all you need to do in the day is to make the most of it. This does not mean you should slack off – no. It means you get to realign yourself with your goals and your wants. Start your day with a list of things you are grateful for; it could be for things that happened the day before. If you have something to look forward to for the day, be grateful for the opportunity but don’t allow yourself to expect great things from it; be grateful, not expectant.
If you decide to share your gratitude list, make a #challenge out of it and rope your friends into it; grow together even when you are apart.
2. What will I learn to accept today?
This quote by Niebuhr is everything that we, as people, need to start living by.
Living in denial is like taking a bath in tar; once you get it on you, it’s difficult to get it off. The faster you stop thinking, “This can’t be happening”, “I can’t stay home”, “No one understands”, the faster you can get to work on doing what you can do for yourself at this point in time. You are complicating things for yourself. Start small, by accepting that you are not going to be able to leave the house for a while longer. Then, understand why it is that you can’t – because it’s what the world needs in order to stop COVID-19. From there, do what you can do – work, help out at home, do the things you always up off as “not having enough time” to do. You’d be surprised how resilient we can be, of how fast we can adapt to change if we put our minds to it.
3. What will I do today?
Ask yourself, “What do I commit to today?”
You are what you do every day because we are creatures of habit and comfort. It is easy to fall into the trap of doing things that are comfortable but are not good for us (i.e. staying in your job for years because you know everyone and everything there is to know). This movement control order is a great time to understand which of your habits are good for you and which are draining your energy, your happiness or your potential for a better future.
Is helping someone important to you? Is buying yourself a new bag what you want? Is buying your family a good meal important? There is no right or wrong here. You do not have to feel pressure to ensure that other people are happy and are fulfilled. Trust me, you won’t have the energy or emotional capacity to cater to someone else if you yourself are not happy or fulfilled. Write down what you feel is important – what you feel because what you think can be influenced by so many of the other factors that are swirling around in your mind.
When you do this, remove all distractions, i.e. your phone, other people, and set your intention for the day.
4. Who am I checking in on and reconnecting with today?
Physically, we are distancing ourselves from our friends and loved ones. But emotionally, there is no need to cut them off – yes, this is easier to do now. But, think about it this way – we are sharing messages of solidarity at a time like this because it is human nature to want to feel like people understand what you are going through. We send messages to those on the frontlines to let them know that we appreciate them and their sacrifices. What about your friends and family that are not physically with you but are also doing their parts? While it is not as monumental as being out there on the frontlines, in staying home and maintaining physical distance, they are also doing their parts. Check on them to make sure that they are not allowing the stress and negativity of the situation take a toll on their emotional and mental health.
Imagine if everyone did this – you reach out to five people, they reach out to five people, those five people reach out to five other people…
Just because social distancing means we cannot be in contact physically, it does not mean we cannot call them, send them a quick text or spend hours with them on video call. It doesn’t take much to reach out but the effect is monumental – they will smile a little wider and look at the world with a bit more optimism.
5. How will I move my body today?
With a strong mind and heart is a strong body. Do not neglect your health even if you are cooped up at home – heck, do you really need to add that to your list of “things to stress about”? Moving your body will naturally make you feel better. Imagine how great it feels to shake your body loose or even tap your foot to music? Now imagine what a quick 5 minute work out would do for your mood? Even better! If going out (to your balcony or garden) is an option, do it. Soak up some sun and fresh air. Watch the stars twinkle in the sky. On regular days, we barely have time to glance up at the sky, much less count the stars. If you cannot go outside, bring the outside in – open a window, let the sunshine fill your room.
Plus, allow your body to indulge in more creative activities – painting, making music, colouring, writing. Grow your mind along with your body and let your creativity flow. This is a great way to remind yourself that life is beautiful, even if situations aren’t always ideal. You are the one that decides who you handle the situations you are dealt and you decide how to make life worthwhile through your own resilience.
Place your hand on your heart and breathe in deep; you’re lucky to be alive and you can make it so that you know this and that the people around you understand it for themselves too.
This approach leads to more love and more mutual support. Show those you love that they can rely on you. And when you know that you can rely on yourself, that’s the most comforting feeling in the world.