With being confined to home, in close proximity with the near and dear, it hasn’t taken too long for cabin fever to set in. Ah well, fever might be the wrong choice of term to use, but you get my drift. But with gloom and doom all around, markets crashing, layoffs across the board, small businesses folding up, and the scariest of them all, people dying in huge numbers, there seems to be little of cheer to keep us motivated and positive.
It is easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious about what is happening all around us, and morphing into Moaning Myrtles, hunkering down into waiting for the End of Days. Or we could just look around us and count our blessings.
1] Enjoy the clearer skies: The sunsets and sunrises are still beautiful and clearer. Yes, clearer. Thanks to the traffic off the streets in most cities, the pollution levels seem to have gone down and the Air Quality Index improved. This has led to discernably clearer skies and sharper light, the omnipresent grey pall that we were accustomed to living under seems to have gone for the moment, and we’re breathing cleaner air. NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) satellites have detected significant decreased levels of pollution in the skies over China, possibly as a result of the cutdown in industrial activity. According to scientists, the reduction in nitrogen dioxide levels in the air was spotted first near Wuhan, the epicentre of this pandemic and then spread across China.
The skies across the world are bluer, if posts on social media are to be believed. And yes, the sunrises and sunsets are sharper, clearer and as beautiful as ever. We should enjoy this. And yes, the night skies are clearer too, if one is a star gazer, this might be as good a time as ever to help your kids identify the prominent stars and constellations in the night sky. It would seem all it took was us humans to stay put for nature to start clearing up.
2] Play with your dog: Your dog still thinks you’re the best person in the world. And that’s always good for one’s ego and one’s mood.
3] Stroke your cat: Your cat continues to ignore you as usual. Which is also good to keep you grounded and away from the helium head that your dog could bestow on you. Seriously though, caring for a pet has more benefits that can be counted, the least of which is the positive effect being with a pet has on your mood. A University of Missouri study found that non pet owners playing with a dog for even just a few minutes showed a rise of serotonin and oxytocin in their blood levels when tested immediately after. And these, as you might know, are mood elevators we could all do with through these days.
Seriously though, caring for a pet has more benefits that can be counted, the least of which is the positive effect being with a pet has on your mood.
4] Binge Watch: You can binge-watch your favourite series and then some more. Entire seasons. From start to finish. You can couch surf until your couch groans in protest. Feel free to be as slothful as you want to be for this is the one time you’re allowed to do what you feel like in order to stay put at home.
5] Use technology to stay connected: You have Skype and Facetime to stay connected with loved ones you can’t meet in person for a while. Technology is perhaps the biggest blessing we so take for granted. It cuts across continents and reduces distances, and keeps you updated and connected with loved ones in real-time, right here, right now.
6] Clean out your house: Do a deep dive. Kon Mari it. Ruthlessly. All the decluttering and junking out of stuff you’ve collected over the years and don’t need anymore that you always wanted to get done but just didn’t have the time to get to it, your time starts now. And yes, clearing out clutter and unwanted stuff you’ve been holding on to does make you feel better, and more in charge. Also, doing so gives you back your space, something always at a premium in these space crunched urban homes we shoehorn ourselves into.
7] Sort out your wardrobe: That pair of jeans you’ve been holding onto for years in the hope that you will finally lose enough weight to get back into it? Just give it away. Opt to minimise your wardrobe to the essentials and figure out how you can make it a capsule wardrobe. Just getting things organised and in order gives you a sense of some control in a world that seems to be overwhelming us. Put clothes in good condition in a bag to give away to the needy and junk the rest.
8] Test out work from home: Work from home is a reality you can now test out on paid time if you’ve ever wondered if that was an option for you to look at and decide if you would like to explore it later, as a full time career shift.
9] Pare down your social media presence: A lot of the anxiety we have is social media induced so choose to cut down on platforms that spread anxiety causing information and stick to the ones that keep you entertained and amused.
10] Create a Travel Bucket list: Make a bucket list of things you want to do when all this passes and you can travel again. Research places and destinations, map your itinerary, create something to look forward too. Make a picture board of images of the places on your list. Learn the language. Get together the wardrobe you need if the climate is very different.
11] Write it all down: Celebrate your wins. Make a list if you must. Writing things down makes them real and important, even if it something as minor as ditching sugar from your diet. Go through what you’ve achieved, what you’ve overcome in the past year or so, from the littlest change you’ve made in your lifestyle, to the huge life altering decisions and celebrate them. And celebrate yourself in doing so. Or you could start journaling. It will help you get in touch with your feelings and anxieties and can be a cathartic experience if you feel overwhelmed by what is happening around you. Whatever works for you, but write down the good things. And let what worries you come out onto paper, you don’t need to read it again, you can just tear it up and throw it away if you want to. But write it out. Or list out things in your life you are grateful for. And read it over and over, and keep adding to it.
12] Make someone else happy: Do something for another person without expecting something in return. Something completely unexpected. Bake a cake. Cook a full meal. Connect a young, deserving person to another person who could be a mentor. Pay for a month of groceries for someone who is tight on funds at the moment. Do whatever little you can, whenever you can. Making someone else happy will definitely rub off on you, and make you happy too. And yes, the cycle of karma exists, and the good you do will come back to you eventually.
13] Get enough sleep: Sleep is important for your health and immunity even if you don’t feel tired enough. Getting your full eight hours is the key to how your body responds to any threat to its well being. A well rested body is more likely to be able to fight illness better.
Do something for another person without expecting something in return. Something completely unexpected. Bake a cake. Cook a full meal. Connect a young, deserving person to another person who could be a mentor.
14] Watch or read funny things: Laughter is the best, easiest and cheapest way to lift up your spirits and there is plenty out there to help you laugh your heart out from web series. Shows by stand up comics are online. Go back to shows you’ve enjoyed before and laugh with them once again. Laughing releases feel good endorphins in your brain and we could all do with more of that in times like these when anxiety seems to be the predominant state of mind. A study conducted by Stanford University showed that laughing elevated dopamine levels in our brain, and Mayo Clinic found that laughing increases oxygen levels in our body and cools down our stress response system making us feel more relaxed.
15] Beautify your space: If you are cooped in the house, you can do some rearranging of the furniture and artifacts to make your space look completely new. Change the curtains, the linen, bring some flowers and plants indoors. Polish old copper utensils and brassware and put them out on display. Just changing your space will help lighten your mood and make you feel happier without any major investment.
16] Get moving even if it is indoors: There are plenty of indoor workouts available online that you can do in the comfort of your home if you don’t have the option of going outdoors or to a gym anymore. Freehand exercises, simple weights, squats, lunges, planks and of course, yoga, can all be done indoors, at your convenience and are great mood elevators. Enough research has proved that exercise helps you produce endorphins and serotonin, natural mood lifters and the effect of just 20 minutes of physical activity and getting your heart rate up can keep your mood elevated for up to 12 hours. If you don’t want to work out, just put the music on and dance, but get moving. Even mild activity can help up your mood.
17] Revisit an old hobby: Painting. Drawing. Singing. Cooking. Baking. Get back to it now when you have the time on hand and the inclination to re-explore from where you left off. You never know it may be the second wind your talent needs to blossom if you had quit in the past thanks to the pressure of work and education.
18] Smile: Look at yourself in the mirror and smile. Sit at your desk and smile. Just smiling can be a quick pick me up on a day when you’re down. Smiling, says research, can trick your brain into feeling happier. Experts say smiling can release serotonin and dopamine, and as we know, they can help your mood come out of a funk. No harm in trying it after all, it costs nothing and takes minimal effort. And if there’s anything viral that we really need to pass on, it’s a smile. After all, we could all do with a pick me up in our day to day.
Author Kiran Manral is the Ideas Editor at SheThePeople.TV. The views expressed are the author’s own.