Quarantine Coping Mechanisms

As we enter week TEN (insert mind blown emoji here) of quarantine, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been doing that have helped keep my mental health in check during this awful time. It’s no surprise that when this all began, I was not okay. I was pretty transparent about how my anxiety about the unknown was raging, I was depressed due to having my world pulled out from under me, and just generally I wasn’t handling it well. I really do feel I’ve found my stride in acceptance of this as our new normal, and I wanted to share my strategies, in the hopes of helping others.

In Ontario, a lot is re-opening after this long weekend. This does provide some comfort because the government thinks we’re ready to loosen restrictions, but because I think most people will still opt to stay home a while longer, here’s what has helped me:

1. Daily Routine

home workouts

homeschool

We’ve established a really great schedule for the last month or so. Right after breakfast, I head to the mat for my daily workout. Days I don’t exercise, I obviously don’t feel as great mentally or physically. It doesn’t necessarily even have to be high impact, but just 30 mins of low intensity exercise is great for endorphins and helps me mentally tackle the day. It also gives me the energy I need to be productive.

After my workout, we do homeschool for a couple of hours. Truthfully, this is not my favourite part of the day, but it’s so important for the kids because it gives them a sense of normalcy, and ensures they don’t fall too far behind. I’m not the most patient teacher, so I often end up typing while they dictate, but honestly, I’ve made my peace with the fact that we’re “cheating,” because I’m not trying to be at the computer all day while my daughter types one letter at a time. Shhh, don’t tell her teacher.

2.  Vitamin D

this will pass

As part of our daily schedule, we take walks outside every day after lunch. The weather in Toronto is really hit and miss, and most days have either been super cold, or rainy (worst spring ever), but on days where the sun is shining, this is my happy time. I’ve also been incorporating mantras into my daily practice to help me get through this, so seeing that someone has painted rocks with “this will pass,” and other motivating words and phrases, has kept me going a lot of the time where I’ve felt really down. To the kind soul who did this, I love you (unless it’s the neighbor I really despise…I don’t love you).

3. Music

If you follow me on Insta (@theathleisureteacher, shameless plug) and watch my stories, you’ll see I always post a “hype song of the day.” Music helps fuel me in so many ways. I listen to upbeat songs of varying genres to get excited for my workouts, stay positive, energize me, etc. Music helps a lot of people cope, and truly, there is nothing better than an impromptu dance party to get you through hard times.

4. Fueling myself with proper nutrition

healthy food

We do takeout 1-2 times a week, but otherwise we’re eating pretty healthy at home. I have been mostly plant-based for a while now, and only eat meat maybe 30% of the time max. My body craves veggies and carbs, so that’s what the majority of my diet is, and this helps to keep me satiated, and my brain and body functioning at optimal capacity. A lot of people have been baking up a storm in quarantine and finding comfort in that, but yeah, that’s not me. I do snack a lot throughout the day, but I mostly do vegan protein gummies, Greek yogurt, or a fruit for a snack. That being said, if I have a craving, I honor it, and have been indulging from time to time.

5. Staying strong for them

spring 2020

This is a biiiiiiig one for me. My kids will always be the reason I wake up daily and have purpose, drive, and motivation to keep going. I can’t wallow in bed or show my anxiety visibly, because they need me. Sometimes I find myself expressing negative thoughts about all of this in front of them, and then my daughter starts to echo them. I’m cognizant of this, so I make a concerted effort just to project strength, hope, and positivity. Lately we’re starting to realize I will likely be home with them all summer and camp won’t be an option, and although I’m selfishly shattered by this (how *will* I be a lady who lunches with kids in tow?), I’m trying to frame it like “don’t worry, we’ll still have a fun summer.” I know there are many people who will have to continue to work from home all summer with their kids there, and I guess I should just be grateful as a teacher that I likely won’t have to work and will have the time with them.

6. Distance visits

This is a new one for us. As regulations start to ease, I’ve started seeing friends again from 6 feet away. As sad as it is, not being able to hug them or get close, this fills my cup in ways a Zoom chat never will. I also see my parents from a distance, and was so grateful just to be able to sit outside with them last weekend on Mother’s Day. Social distancing is something that will be present in our lives for a long time I think, so getting accustomed to it now is best for me personally. I wasn’t really up for it until last weekend, but now I feel great about it, as long as precautions are met.

I Live Under a Rock

This summer has truly been one of new discoveries. I’ve been exposed to many new things that haven’t just changed my summer; they’ve changed my life. I don’t know how I didn’t know about some of these things, but in case you didn’t either, I thought I’d share them with you, because sharing is caring and I’m nothing if not the nicest most generous person in the world.

Spotify – Apparently I’m living in 2015, because I didn’t know there was a free version of Spotify. But there is, and I downloaded it, and now I have a soundtrack to my summer. Virtually the only difference between the free version and premium is you get a limited number of skips (6 per hour I think) of tracks you don’t want to hear, and you have to listen to an ad every 30 minutes. I’d invest in the premium, but tbh, my matcha habit is really effing expensive. I’m especially loving using the app at the gym, because it can stream on the wifi while I run on the treadmill, do my cardio circuits and my strength training

Aerie – WTFFFFFF guys. How did I not know this is literally the best store on the face of this planet? My travel companion/bad influence bestie (love you A) introduced me to their cute bralettes in early July, and since then, I’ve dropped half my summer lump sum there. I love it all. Their workout gear, comfy pj-esque clothes, and undergarments (you know you’re a real adult when you use that word) are all amazing. Well priced, good quality, and so adorable. Plus their ad campaigns support the #bodypositive movement; featuring models of all shapes, sizes, and abilities.

workout gear.jpg

Exhibit A

Calm – This app is life changing. At the beginning of the summer I discovered it, and questioned whether to invest in the $77/year membership. A super kind former colleague alert me to the Calm for teachers application, which gives educators in the classroom a FREE membership! Needless to say, this was a no brainer for me. I got the free membership, and have spent the last 6 weeks or so beginning my meditation/mindfulness journey. Full disclosure, I totally suck at it, but I’m getting better. I like it because it’s helped me work on things I struggle with, like non-reactivity (I like reacting. Reacting is fun), letting go of control and other negativity that doesn’t benefit me, and just generally being more in the present and not dwelling on memories, plans, etc. What I still grapple with is not letting my thoughts wander during the practice, but I like that the narrator tells me not to judge myself for it, and to gently bring myself back to the moment. Like, obviously I still judge myself, because it’s kinda what I’m best at and I like to recognize my strengths, but I appreciate her telling me not to.

Snapchat – Okay so this was a re-discovery for me. I used to have it before Instagram Stories existed, and it was a lot of fun using the filters with the kids and posting them publicly. This summer I’ve used it differently, because I don’t think people post their stories publicly anymore. Now I kinda just chronicle my life in quick photos and send them to my nearest and dearest. It’s a great time waster, and that’s why I use it. Don’t worry though, I’ve already read three massive novels this summer too, so my brain hasn’t turned entirely to mush. I’ll likely delete it the second I step foot into my school.

VSCO and Lightroom – How did I not know about editing apps before I made this public Instagram account? Here I was thinking people actually *use* the Instagram pre-set filters. But like ew, they’re all hideous in hindsight! Even though I’m the world’s shittiest photographer still, I can make my pictures a little less horrendous by increasing the exposure, saturation, contrast, etc., and it really improves their quality. I don’t spend too much time editing them, but I just try to make the finished product look a little prettier.

Anyway, have the greatest weekend friendships, and…you’re welcome.