Staying sane and happy (during quarantine)

Social distancing is hard for everyone, even for introverts like me. Although I’m usually very happy spending some quiet time with a book or a movie, about a month since I started self-isolation I was going crazy! I had enough of it, and I had to do something to change my mood.

There are tons of articles like this on the internet, but most look somewhat abstract to me. Below I will list some practical tips that worked best for my own adjustment to this temporary reality. Hopefully they will help you as much as they helped me.

Photo by Victor Freitas from Pexels

undefined Take care of your surroundings

These things usually go without saying, but a declining mental state can make us reluctant to do them. Make a routine of the simple things: Make your bed in the morning, as soon as you get up, Do the dishes as soon as a meal is finished, and keep surfaces clean and uncluttered. If your surroundings are in order, your mind will tend to follow.

undefined Be a producer, not only a consumer

You know that painting you started some time in the past and never finished? Or that jumper you started knitting, that book you started writing? Whatever it was, now is the time to get back on it.
It’s great to zone out sometimes on the sofa with a movie or series, but too much of it can leave us feeling down, sluggish AND it can lead to mindless snacking.

A creative hobby can do wonders for your happiness levels. Having something to show for your efforts can give you a sense of self-accomplishment and pride. Even if you don’t know what you like, this is the best time to experiment with various hobbies and perhaps find out about a hidden talent you didn’t know about. Whatever you do, make sure you have fun! Don’t put too much pressure on yourself if something doesn’t work out like you initially wanted it to – after all, it’s about the journey, not the destination!

undefined Take care of yourself

This goes without saying, but we sometimes forget with everything going on around us. Since I have been working from home, I went into overdrive and worked a lot more hours than usual, so other things fell to the background.
It’s important to make time for yourself. Have a bath, do a face mask, exercise, or better yet, take a walk. Especially if there’s nature and trees near where you live, it can do wonders for your mental balance!

Photo by Snapwire from Pexels

undefined Dress normally, even if you’re not going anywhere

Pyjamas were great the first few days, I’m not gonna lie. If I didn’t have a virtual meeting requiring video, I would just work on my desk in my PJs, sipping coffee and typing (or clicking) furiously.
At first, it was liberating to not have to care about dressing up or putting on makeup (apparently there’s people that do that every morning – shocking, I know), but it soon lost its charm. The more days went by, I felt sluggish and reluctant to get into “work mode”, which resulted into reduced productivity, feelings of guilt for not performing as well as i should be, and even more reduction in productivity. Do you see a pattern here?

I did, and I figured I had enough. Empirically proven piece of advice: dressing (even remotely) nicely can help boost our self-esteem, and our sense of productivity and purpose. Even on days when you wake up feeling like a sack of potatoes, pushing through and dressing up will help you feel like you have a purpose and kick-start your will to be productive.

Ladies, wear a bra. I know, it feels like a deathtrap, and when else are you gonna have the chance to go for months on end without a bra? If you can pull it off, then good on you! I honestly envy you.
But, if like me you find yourself struggling to be productive when bra-less (possibly because throughout my life, bra-less days were slop days, there is now a mental connection between the two), or you are experiencing back pain, you could consider putting them back in custody. It’s for the greater good.

Photo by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

undefined Maintain connections

Technology is great, isn’t it? Call your loved ones, and even if nothing exciting is going on in your life at the moment, have a laugh with them and tell them you love them. Even if you’re not really the person that likes to spend hours on the phone, like me, do it anyway. You need it, and they need it too. Your friends are probably going through the same feelings that you are, and your family members are probably worried. Let them know you’re coping, and they’ll cope as well.

If you have the chance, play some games together! Apps like Houseparty can be great for a game night with loved ones. Games can be a great way to have a good laugh – it busts anxiety and negative feelings for everyone involved.
Stay apart together – it will help keep you and your loved ones sane.

Let’s hope we won’t be in isolation much longer, but even when we get out of quarantine, it’s good to work consciously towards our mental well-being in our daily lives as well.
I hope all this helps, and see you again soon!

The Creative Cactus

3 ways to get things done when you lack motivation

You know those days when you wake up in the morning, swear that you’re going to do everything on your to-do list and be productive and then you just…don’t? When suddenly it’s 6pm, the day has gone by and you’re still in your pyjamas, on your sofa, zoned out in front of the TV, binge watching this series or that?

I certainly know all about it, and a few of my friends can identify. I know that at the end of the day I’m going to feel terrible for having wasted a full day, but I still do it. I don’t bake those cookies I bought the ingredients for, I don’t exercise, and I don’t paint, because I can always do it tomorrow. But it’s always today, and there’s always tomorrow, so things basically never get done, unless there is no tomorrow.

Why is it though that we always postpone things until tomorrow? Why don’t we want to do it now? It’s always been a puzzle for me why people don’t have the motivation to do the things that they want to do. Because a lot of us do want to do some things, we just…don’t. In my case, it’s not like I hate baking or cooking, I actually love those things, but I’ll still feel demotivated, very often.

So how do we get motivation to get things done?

1

Think of how good you will feel after you’ve accomplished your (short-term) task.

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

A sense of accomplishment can be the biggest motivator. Sure, you feel reluctant now, but just think of how good it will feel after you’ve finished. For example, I hate cleaning, but there’s nothing that I love more than sitting in my clean home. Worst case scenario, you bake the cookies, you still feel demotivated, but at least now you have cookies.

2

Visualise your long-term success

If it’s a long-term goal, like getting in shape, writing a book, or even starting your own business, it takes a million small tasks to get there. I always have trouble with long-term goals, because although my inspiration spans are intense and make me feel that I can change the world, they are sudden and short-lived. When I don’t have them (which is most of the time), I try to ignore my brain going “c’mooooooon, not nooooow”, like a teenager who is asked to clean out their room. Instead, I try to think of what it will feel like when I actually accomplish my goal.

An effective technique for visualisation is to take a piece of paper and write down how you imagine yourself in your success. Write down every detail you can imagine: what you look like, what you are thinking about in that moment, where you are, who is around you, the smell of your surroundings, the weather, even what you are wearing. The more detail you put into this mental image the better. Write it all down, and read it every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to sleep. This helps imprint the message and the goal in our minds, and gets our subconscious to work towards this goal.

Basically, you just brainwash yourself into making things happen. Trust me, it works. Demotivation was probably hardwired into your brain due to some underlying reason, such as fear of failure, because you repeated it to yourself one too many times – so many in fact, that you have convinced yourself you can’t sustain your own business, or you’ll never finish that book. Hence, if you never try, you never fail, and you are safe, right?

WRONG.

Failing feels terrible, but it teaches us a lot of things (more on that on a different post). And, in the same way that you programmed your brain to expect (and summon) failure, you can re-program your brain to expect (and summon!) success.

So, think of your success, feel your success, and brainwash yourself into believing in your success.

3

Just. Do it.

Don’t think, just do it. When method no. 1 and method no. 2 don’t work, just do it. Once your brain starts to say “maybe leave it for tomor…” don’t let it finish. Get up that very instant (or as soon as possible) and do it. No counting to three, no debating. Make no mistake, you will lose.
So Just,Do It.

Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash

Chasing our goals and dreams comes easier to some than others. The good news is, our brain is a tool, and we can reprogram it to work for our benefit instead of against it. Inspiration is ideal, but even if we’re having a bad day and the inspiration is just not there, there are ways to push ourselves towards our goals and keep us on the path to self-achievement.

The Creative Cactusundefined