The following is a letter to the editor, published here as opinion, from coastal resident Heather Gurewitz. The opinions expressed in this letter are not necessarily shared, or endorsed, by The Mendocino Voice. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor feel free to write to [email protected].
Across the county and the country our normal schedules have been majorly disrupted. I never expected that my time in the Peace Corps would prepare me for my life on the Mendocino Coast, but the life skills I’ve learned have come in handy on more than one occasion. Isolation is a common issue for new Peace Corps Volunteers, so here are some tips to get through it.
- Make a plan – You no longer have someone else telling you what to do, but you still need to create your own normal. Set up a goals list for the week and a plan each day. Don’t get too crazy with them. If you set the list up for a superhero, more likely than not, you’re going to get intimidated and not do anything.
- Mix up your day – include things that are useful, like doing the dishes, sanitizing floors, or cleaning out that back closet with fun stuff, like reading time or Netflix binging time, and creative time.
- Keep regular sleep hours – Just because you don’t have work in the morning is not a good reason to go haywire on the sleep schedule. If you disrupt your sleep schedule, life will be significantly harder when you do go back to work. Sleeping too much or not enough can also have negative impacts on your mental health.
- Get elaborate in the kitchen – Even if cooking isn’t your thing, instead of microwaving frozen food, cook things from scratch and cook things that are complicated. When you’re bored, you’re more likely to sit around eating. Food is an easy thing to fixate on, so instead of eating a lot, find one of the millions or possibly trillions of recipes online and do something labor intensive. Its also great to make extra and freeze half for those days when you just can’t muster.
- Be kind to yourself – This is a hard time. Even if you are an introvert like me and enjoying the solitude, it can still be stressful to see what’s happening on the outside. If you need a day or two to be down and out, go for it. Spend a day reading or binge watching but be careful not to make it a habit. Too much time laying around can make you jittery and/or depressed.
- Exercise – Most of us know that when you exercise your body creates endorphins and they make you feel good. Whether its laps around the house, stacking firewood, digging up garden beds, or using one of the many free workout videos from the library’s free app Hoopla. If you have Amazon Prime, they also have a number of free workouts.
- Phone a friend – If you’re feeling lonely, you’re not alone. Call someone! Not only will you ease your loneliness, you will probably make someone else feel really good.
- Limit your news intake – Its super easy to spend all day reading Facebook and different news stories and following the coverage of the virus. Take some time each day, maybe an hour at the most, to either read, watch, or listen to the news and then leave it alone. Spending more time than that will just make you crazy and it won’t improve your situation.
- Don’t neglect your brain – You’ve heard this a thousand times, “the brain is a muscle,” so it needs exercise too. Whether its crossword puzzles, sudoku, scrabble, or watching one of the Courses of Great Study (also available free through the Library app Kanopy), be sure to engage your mind and keep it active. If you really want to challenge yourself, play yourself at a board game like scrabble. It sounds crazy, but give it a try. What else do you have to do?
- Find a way to celebrate – Yes, thousands of people are dying, the economy is tanking and most of us have an uncertain personal future, but, guess what, if you’re still healthy and alive, you have something to celebrate. Have a one-human-dance party, put out the special china, or pop a bottle of champagne. However it is that you celebrate, make sure you take a moment to be grateful and happy. The world will go on and so must you.
I hope these tips help ease some of the stress of being cooped up. Stay home, be safe, and as my sister-in-law always says, “This too shall pass.”
The preceding article was an opinion column, or letter to the editor, and the opinions expressed therein are the author’s, not those of The Mendocino Voice. It was not necessarily edited for punctuation, capitalization, spelling etc. While, we reserve the right to copyedit and fact-check opinion pieces, and letters to the editor — and to annotate such pieces with fact-checking — we do not habitually do so.