The Isolation Diaries – Managing Anxiety And How I’m Spending My Time Indoors
9.30 am. My alarm went off again and the rays of sun glared at me brightly, too brightly if you asked me. I found it to be a little sarcastic that the Mancunian clouds seem to have decided to part ways at a time we can’t enjoy the hot sun on our skin, but just like everything that’s happening this year, nothing seems to make sense.
My second alarm rang fifteen minutes later and by then my eyes had gotten used to the light coming through the windows.
‘I should change the air in here’, I thought to myself, but as I was about to nonchalantly sit up, I remembered my window had stopped opening the day before. It seems to be faulty, stuck or jammed, but whatever the reason, it didn’t seem like the opportune time for this to be happening.
‘No change of air it is then!’
I spent a few minutes more in bed contemplating what I wanted to do with the new day and how I’d get everything done for once since the Lockdown. At 10.00 I was staring at the mirror, sat on the corner of the bath with my electric toothbrush buzzing in my mouth.
These days have been super weird. I’ve started every blog post in the last few weeks with a line that acknowledges or questions how our new reality is even real. In a way, I’ve been pointing out the elephant in the room so people don’t think I can’t see it or chose to ignore it. The initial uncertainty of it all was super overwhelming as I stated in The Isolation and it took a lot for me to move out of that mindset into a more positive one.
I used to be super optimistic growing up – perhaps, unrealistically optimistic. I was the glass half full kind of girl all the time, but as life happens, I started to find myself leaning further and further towards opposite extreme to avoid the wrenching pain of disappointment. At the beginning of all this, I found myself in that place once again, unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The glass looked more empty than usual.
There were no plans on my calendar and the ones I had before vanished even before the official decree. The news was on every second of the day and I was keeping count like it was my job and I had to do a good one for humanity. Everything was uncertain and I hated every moment of it. On Instagram, people were sharing the results of their productivity, and those who weren’t were justifying the reason for their idleness. Everyone had a different take, but no one seemed too certain either.
Home exercising, a ton of banana bread making and people redecorating and rearranging their bedrooms because they finally had time on their hands – too much time.
I, on the other hand, was in a funk for a long time and saw no way out of it until someone reminded me a few important things. The first was that with many things in life, you cannot control what happens to you, you can only control how you react. It’s a quote I’ve read over a trillion times across social platforms, nodded my head to in full agreement only to forget a few minutes later. I often wonder how effective all the quotes with dreamy looking backgrounds on Instagram are, and I guess I found my answer. However, this time, within this context, those words hit differently.
Secondly, she said, you need to learn how to consume the information you get without letting it consume you.
At first, I did what I always do when I listen to something super inspirational, like a quote, nod, agree then dismiss. But the more I thought about it, the more it made a lot of sense.
I decided I’d stop wondering how I could find a balance, but to start working towards finding. I began to make an effort towards being productive and take steps that would help me survive this global pandemic.
Waking up at the same time each morning is something that has helped me establish some sort of daily routine. After facing the sunlight head-on, I head straight to the bathroom, shower, and then make a hot cup of my favourite tea so it’s strong taste can wake up all my senses. Whilst I take small sips from my large mug, I ask Google to play the news updates so I can catch up on what happened overnight.
That’s it; I catch up once in the morning and once at night with videos, articles and the weekly Philip Defranco roundup coverage of the daily need-to-know.
I’d love to tell you that I’ve figured out the perfect way to spend these days indoors, but that would be a lie. As much as I try to be productive, I still find myself in front of my pc for most of my day doing pointless things that won’t bring deep satisfaction by night time. I’ve downloaded a ton of games on my iPad and have spent hours putting block puzzles together and serving burgers to virtual customers.
There have been days when I’ve written a thousand words and much more, read tons of pages in hardcover books and flipped through glossy magazines. I have also had days when I gave into the baking craze and found my sister and I making vanilla cooking and banana bread at sundown.
I think I’m managing my anxiety a lot better than before, but I’m also finding that not every day has to like the other. Some mornings, I find the sunlight to be annoying, willingly ignoring my alarm and reluctantly getting out of my comfy bed at mid-day. Other days, I cross off everything on my list. Some days, I don’t even have a list to cross off.
One thing I always try to ensure, however, is that I have something to look forward to. it can be rearranging my wardrobe, taking new photos for the blog or a video call with a friend. It can also be little things, like a bubble bath on a Saturday morning, another hot cup of tea or listening to a favourite track on Spotify.
I’ve been asking myself a lot if there’s a right way to do this quarantine thing. Is there a specific way we should all be spending our time? Perhaps, learning a new skill like how to sew or a new language. Should we all be baking, cooking, doing exercise to flaunt on the gram, or fishing for big projects? I believe all those things are great and if they are helping you cope or take your mind off the mess that is the world right now then they’re even better. But I also think all things should be done in moderation and not every day has to be a huge checklist.
These are hard times for everybody. For some, these days may be their worst.
I hope you stay hopeful through this storm.
Your restless romantic roamer