Many of us have been in quarantine for weeks now. I personally have been in quarantine for nine weeks, though it feels like so. much. longer. I was inside for two weeks before Edinburgh Scotland issued their nationwide lockdown as I had just gotten back from a trip to Barcelona and had to self- quarantine as a precaution. Regardless of where in the world we are, who we are, and what we do, our day to day quarantine lives has probably looked quite similar. I mean, there’s only so much we can all do within the four walls of our house regardless of if we’re in Bali or Scotland.
Regardless of where in the world we are, who we are, and what we do, our day to day quarantine lives have probably looked quite similar.
If we are lucky, we have had work to occupy ourselves. We have a set work schedule and some set tasks that we do need to get done, a boss, or some assistants expectantly waiting for our contribution. We may have woken up a half hour before work started, hopped from our beds to our desks, that’s about a foot away from our beds, or crawled towards our offices and plopped down in front of our computers, to start our workday. Full working days spent in the same pajamas, only changing for the odd zoom call or two but never actually wearing pants. At least that’s how it’s been for me. After that, it’s a haze of food, endless TikTok and Netflix binges, videogames, and playing the same board games for the millionth time.
If we haven’t been so lucky and haven’t had the ability to work, then our days have probably felt even longer. No schedule to adhere to means we can wake up whenever. Not being outside more than once a day, if we’re lucky, means we rely on our devices much more. If you’re anything like me, your eyes will be in a constant state of burning from too much screen time and your bottom will be in a constant state of half numb, from sitting down too much.
Again, if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably scoured the internet for all the tips and tricks to ease your burning eyes and your numb bottom. I’ve been looking for ways to stop feeling bored and frustrated, to help me fix the nagging sense of unfulfillment I carry around with me these days. I’ve been looking for something to fix this problem instantly, to find a solution online or to wake up tomorrow morning and for this not to still be my reality, nine weeks in. I have been told to: go outside as much as the laws in my country or city allow, to socialize via facetime and texts as much as I can to not feel isolated, to occupy my mind with games and other activities, exercise, try and keep a schedule and as much normality as I can, try not to eat my whole fridge in one day, and who knows what else.
Now before I continue, let me reiterate, those are all very helpful and very important tips to use. Sticking to as much normalcy as possible is important, staying in contact with friends and family is important, and trying to stay as healthy and active as possible, is very, very important.
Sticking to as much normalcy as possible is important, staying in contact with friends and family is important, and trying to stay as healthy and active as possible, is very, very important.
As a mental health professional, these tricks aren’t enough though, even for me. These tricks aren’t enough because I’m searching for the impossible. Many times, throughout these weeks I’ve looked at myself in the mirror and wondered why, as someone who preaches these same things to her clients, friends, and family, I am left feeling like it isn’t enough. I’m going outside and getting fresh air, yet I’m still bored and frustrated. I am communicating openly with my partner, yet I’m still frustrated with him. I’m chatting to friends and family all around the world and trying to keep my social life alive, yet I still don’t feel connected the way I used to. I’m planning inner-city trips and destinations to explore in my own city as we probably can’t travel outside city lines for a while, yet my travel bug still feels unfulfilled.
I think, what it comes down to, is that these are times unlike any other, and our usual tips and tricks might not be cutting it. Do I have any new revolutionary tools to give you? No, though I so wish I did. What I can give you though, is a reminder—a reminder about compassion.
Compassion, is my dearest and the hardest friend, to let in. Compassion reminds us to be kind to ourselves. Compassion reminds us to greet ourselves with grace and love, no matter how we show up each day. No matter how much frustration, unfairness, sadness, anger, or the multitude of other emotions we are feeling, compassion reminds us that we are still good, even if we are bored and frustrated after countless attempts of making the most of what is a truly horrible situation. The important thing to keep in mind when looking for advice on how to survive quarantine is to not expect it to solve all your problems. These tips and tricks are meant to help alleviate the stress and worry you are under, to make sure you are more than just functioning.
Compassion reminds us to be kind to ourselves. Compassion reminds us to greet ourselves with grace and love, no matter how we show up each day. No matter how much frustration, unfairness, sadness, anger, or the multitude of other emotions we are feeling, compassion reminds us that we are still good, even if we are bored and frustrated after countless attempts of making the most of what is a truly horrible situation.
These tips won’t fix the whole we all have in our hearts, and it would be impossible to expect it to. Compassion reminds us that we are doing the best we can. Compassion reminds us that we are allowed to (and honestly, I would argue that we are supposed to) feel frustrated and bored. Learning a new language or honing -in a new skill might help distract us for a little bit, but that is all it is meant to do. Compassion will stay with us as we keep making the best of a bad situation, and when we, inevitably, still feel frustrated.
This is a reminder for me, and hopefully to you, to breathe—a reminder to greet ourselves with compassion each and every morning, to not search for the impossible in places where we know we won’t find it, and most importantly, stay safe and stay pants-less.