By: Sara Adeli
The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us in too many ways. For a majority of us, it has placed a serious strain on our mental health. It’s nearly nine months in, and I am still trying to find a way to adapt to the new reality of online classes and social distancing. It can be difficult though, especially when your new best friend is Mr. Couch.
The hardest part for me has been mustering up the willpower to do all the little things that don’t seem so important. I’ve quickly realized, however, that the little things can make all the difference. Here are a few changes I’ve made to take care of my mental self during quarantine:
- Embrace Your Style
I’m doing online classes and don’t have a job, so I basically never leave my apartment. I am so guilty of flopping out of bed only to stay in my pajamas for the rest of the day. The problem is that it becomes hard for me to actually get anything done. I end up lounging around the apartment and do nothing productive. Changing into a fresh set of clothes when I first wake up encourages my mind to shift gears.
Even more than this, fashion is an integral part of my identity. I am at my happiest when I wear gold hoops and pearl clips in my hair. Don’t get me wrong, I value my comfort, but wearing a coffee-stained, oversized t-shirt every day doesn’t exactly foster self-love and confidence. I try to find a balance between comfort and style, so most days I opt for lounge sets and sporty looks.
I often really do miss going all out with my outfits. So, I take any excuse to wear my high neck sweater dress and riding boots, even if it is just to Aldi. It makes me feel great, and that is all that matters!
- Take Advantage of Scenery
Winter is fast approaching, and that means no more outdoor activities. During times like these, that can be a devastating realization. My advice? Take advantage of the outdoors while you can. Add some variety into your daily routine by doing homework in Monroe Park with your friends, or attending a zoom class outside a coffee shop. Corona days can feel extremely mundane and redundant, so some crisp air and fresh ambiance can do wonders in lifting your mood. It can also give you the excuse you need to stunt that outfit you’ve been longing to wear.
- Don’t Get Lazy with Self-Maintenance
Remember when I said I flop out of bed? Yeah, this includes skipping skincare. When it comes to bedtime, I use my lack of makeup as justification for not washing my face, again! Every morning my skin would shriek in protest with acne and itchy dry patches.
I’ve recently reminded myself that I need to stop getting lazy with my self-maintenance. When I take care of my physical self, I am also taking care of my mental self. Who can really be happy when their skin feels uncomfortably tight and itchy? Not me.
The same goes for other things that may be important to you. I make sure to pluck my brows regularly to keep them from becoming unruly, as well as paint my nails every week or so. I really can’t tell you what it is, but there is something about a freshly painted set of nails that tricks me into thinking I have my life together.
- Clean Space, Clean Mind
Having a clean space has always been rewarding, and this is true now more than ever given that most of us are always home. If you are constantly surrounded by mess and clutter, that energy will begin to invade your mind and taint your mood. Trust me.
My roommate and I have resurrected our cleaning schedule from last year to help us keep the apartment tidy. We love lighting the fall-scented candle on our coffee table when everything looks so organized. It makes us feel serene and inspires us to be proactive with our other tasks, as well.
- New Beginnings
Life can feel pretty dull these days. If you’ve found that you have too much time on your hands, consider beginning a new venture. For me, this meant searching for a job that can occupy my time and satisfy my social needs. It can also mean finally starting that YouTube channel you’ve always thought about, or reading all those books you were always too busy to read. Never again will we have this much spare time in our entire lives, so we might as well use it to explore things that we love.
The essence of all these tips underlie a singular idea: create a realistic routine that will make you happy and stick to it. I really struggle with self-accountability, so whenever I’m tempted to lay on the couch instead of doing work at the park, or skip my skincare for the second day in a row, I remind myself of how great I’ll feel once I get it done. I am learning to prioritize the needs of my future self over what I want in the moment, and that has made all the difference.
That being said, please don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you are seriously struggling with your mental health. I hope that these tips bring about small, impactful changes that encourage your happiest and healthiest selves, as they did for me. Stay safe everyone!