Calm Amidst a Shit Storm: Staying Grounded Through the Quarantine
I don’t know what day it is.
I slept 14 hours last night.
I can’t remember the last time I showered.
And I haven’t felt motivated to be “productive”.
When you look at all of these statements, it could easily be assumed that I’m probably going through another one of my depressive episodes. And all signs point to yes. All the causes are in place. I’m physically isolated from my friends and support system. The events and classes I scheduled to keep myself motivated and productive are all cancelled. My routines I painstakingly created to keep my head right are now thrown off track. And with all of that happening so suddenly, I should be spiraling my way down into one of the most severe bouts of depression.
I have not felt this at peace in a long time.
How is this possible? At first when I became aware of my state of mind, I was entirely confused. How is it that during a time where the whole world seems to be falling apart, that I am sitting here utterly calm and, dare I say, blissful?!
Honestly, I’m still trying to understand it myself, but I think what it boils down to is that what the world is going through right now is something entirely out of my control. And accepting that is step 1.
Many of us are currently in quarantine and physical distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re one of the ones at home during this time, you might be experiencing one or more of these symptoms:
Perhaps your “normal” daily routines of going to work and having a structured day seems to have been compromised now to transitioning to working from home or not working at all. Maybe your mental health is suffering from the overload of information reported and spread through the media, creating or amplifying anxiety. Or this social distancing has made you feel or actually become isolated from people you relied on to feel safe, triggering depressive thoughts or kicking up past traumas. And there are a myriad of other emotions swirling around us right now that can’t easily be written down into words.
However you’re feeling right now, one thing is for sure: WE ARE IN THIS.
Personally, I have depression and it stems from overwhelming guilt. I feel guilty for not having the motivation to get my work done, having my life together. Then I feel guilty for feeling guilty, and guilty for letting myself be “weak” and spiral yet again into depressive episodes. It’s layers of guilt exponentially stacked upon each other that weighs me down to the point of absolute exhaustion and stagnation. It’s not pretty, but it has been the reality I’ve been living in for the past decade or so. Which is why, when we were told to social distance and everything started closing and scheduled events becoming cancelled, I braced myself for the impact. I thought, “This is it!”
My life once again mimicked how it usually is when I’m going through these episodes: sleeping a lot, lying around, not showering, being generally unproductive.
But something was glaringly different: I didn’t feel depressed. I was at ease. I didn’t have that familiar, looming sense of hopelessness I usually have.
So here I am now, amidst a shit storm, completely calm.
How? Well, in a way, I’ve prepared for this. Mentally and emotionally. Everything that I have been working on for years have come to help me and aid me in this time of need. And by everything, I specifically mean the self-growth, the inner work, the understanding of myself and its relation to the world. The faith and spirituality that I have cultivated are here for me to use to guide me through this time of uncertainty.
I’ve broken down the most important lessons to keep in mind if you’re struggling to stay calm and at peace during this quarantine. They’re also immensely useful practices to becoming overall a more grounded person in general.
THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND AND TO PRACTICE:
1. Acceptance. I accepted that this is a situation in which I have no control over. The harder I resist it, the more I will suffer. So just let the universe do its thing, what will come will come. Accepting reality might be hard, but resisting reality is MUCH harder. Relinquish control over that which we cannot control.
2. Focus on what I CAN control. We can control ourselves, our mentalities, our narratives, our actions. This is one of the most important lessons to learn, if not THE lesson to learn when trying to become a more grounded person. Learning what we can and cannot control is opening the door to the classroom. But learning HOW to control ourselves, our actions, our emotions, and the stories we tell ourselves is actual lesson.
3. Take it one day at a time. By focusing on the present, and ONLY the present, I am able to bite off only what I can chew. I am less overwhelmed, and in turn will lessen worrying and anxiety. Do your best to not think about the future (again, what you can not control). The farthest I think about is perhaps what I’ll be having for lunch the next day, and spend 1 minute on that, then letting it go.
4. Identifying my needs and what my “self-care” looks like for me. My self care activities probably looks a hell of a lot different from your self care activities. Think about what those are and try to implement them throughout your day. My self care lately has been thoroughly enjoying at least 2 square meals a day, watching copious amounts of anime, snuggling my dog when he lets me, and getting in bed before 9:30PM. These are all things that bring me joy.
5. Be gentle and kind to myself. I forgive myself for not being “productive” during this time. For the first time, I have full permission from the universe to actually not do anything, and that relieves the guilt that triggers me. If you’re forcing yourself to “make the most of this quarantine” or beating yourself up for not doing so, step back and evaluate whether or not it’s actually stressing you out more and if it’s actually making you feel good. I sitting here today giving you full permission to forgive yourself, and let yourself rest.
6. Know that everything will be okay in the end. In other words, don’t fret. This is but a blip in the grand scheme of life. Perhaps things don’t look right or up now, but it will be. I look back on all the hard and dark times I’ve lived through and how I’ve always been able to come out the other side brighter and stronger. Remember your resilience, and have faith in yourself and keep in mind that life happens FOR you. If it’s not okay right now, it’s not the end yet.
It’s easy to list them out, read them and think about these things. To adhere them to your life and actually practice them is a whole other ballgame. If you haven’t been practicing these mentalities already, it might take some time to get used to them or even understand it in relation to your own life. But these are things I constantly practiced and reminded myself in times like these, and boy, did it pay off.
Breathe. Relax. Call a friend. Stay at home. And practice those 6 things up there. Rinse and repeat.
I hope this helps you in the same way it has served me.
Maybe I’ll even go shower now, who knows.
Sending you all love and safe blessings.