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Drop Boredom and Boost Creativity, Mental Health during COVID-19

Nicholas Noble | April 02, 2020

Unemployment rates are sky-high, and most of us are personally experiencing first-hand the throes of isolation (or irritation – admit it). We might be literally grounded at home, but that doesn’t have to translate to feeling grounded mentally. Especially if you’re cooped up with family, it’s only natural that levels of agitation are on the rise.

This week, we offer key opportunities to make sure that ‘staying in’ doesn’t begin to feel more like ‘staying down’. Keeping the peace inside, and outside yourself means being smart about your home routine. Below we cover ways to exercise, but more emphatically, recommendations to stay active mentally and creatively, right from the confines of lockdown.

Your wellbeing is important to everyone around you – even if from a distance. Keep reading as we cover new digital platforms to help you pass the time in a healthy and satisfying way. Also, checkout a couple options to not only keep the kids busy, but yourself as well!

Drop Boredom and Boost Creativity, Mental Health during COVID-19

Has working-from-home helped you realize the power of routine, perhaps in a negative way? If we’re not careful, staying at home can lead to some negative feedback as pastimes may quickly become day-ruling bad habits. Yet, with a little discipline, and some exciting ideas – we can confidently make the most of quarantine.

Prioritize your mental health, stay informed without joining the panic and fear, and take some time to optimize at-home living like never thought possible. First-up, the basics – cooking, cleaning, and feng shui!

Cooking During Quarantine

Most of us aspire to be better cooks, but following a full work day and the commute home, it’s been tough to make time. Now wonder is no more, we have the time to get creative with our food, and limited pantry staples to further motivate some inspiration.

As you venture out of shelter and into the grocery store, don’t be dismayed by short supply on regular products. It’s a great time to cook with something new and act resourcefully with what’s available. 

Say yes to the canned beans and vegetables; you’ll also probably find that bulk seeds and nuts are still in wide supply at most grocers. Even if variety runs short, there’s entire databases of recipes available based on ingredients you have at-hand.

If you’re a short step away from having all the right ingredients, be sure you don’t have something creative to substitute with, here’s a guide to help cover the gaps. Lockdown can help us feel inspired and look for foods that have more versatility than previously thought.

Also, you can make the foods available into more diverse meals by stocking up on common spices: garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cumin, chili powders, and ground mustard seed are great examples. It’s also a perfect time to make sure any produce isn’t getting wasted, there’s a rhyme and reason to how you should store produce for a longer shelf

If we're proactive, most of us will learn a (culinary) thing or two during this time. If you need some easy recipe ideas during COVID-19, check out this article from the NY Times.

Tips for Spring Cleaning During Lockdown

The likes of most aren’t stoked about staying home more. But the reality is we have more time on our hands than we’re used to – take this as your ticket to spruce-up your space, maybe just a bit early this year.

Here’s some tips to make the time you spend cleaning more productive for a work-from-home transition and staying sane amongst roommates and family:

THINK IT THROUGH

We’re all in a special spot right now to create reason and intent behind the cleaning we do. There’s less of a rush to get it done to hurry out the door, a chance to do it right. That includes giving love to those forgotten areas; tidy patio and walkway areas with sweeping and dusting. Grab some glass cleaner for outside windows, and scrub the window trim on the inside.

DUST ABOVE AND BEYOND

Most people have a love/hate relationship with dusting since it can temporarily stir-up allergies. If you have them, run air-purifiers as you dust to capture what your cloth doesn’t. Get into the closets and cupboards, door trim and lighting fixtures, and replace air filters. Staying at home won’t feel as stuffy. 

CHOOSE CLEANING DAYS

Between the opportunity to deep clean, and weekly upkeep, it’s helpful to have a schedule. Take quarantine to the next level by deep cleaning one room each day, and then set daily tasks to keep things spotless for each day of the week after that. Vacuum Tuesday? Sure!

DIY HOUSEHOLD CLEANER

Substitution is key if you’re out of your regular household cleaners. Since disinfectants and even soaps are sparse across the nation, try making your own: 1-cup water, 1-cup rubbing alcohol, and 20-drops essential oil like lavender. Be sure oils are safe for pets.

BURN SAGE

This one is easy. Once things are feeling sparkling clean, wrap it up by burning sage to clear the air and help eliminate any remaining odors.

Locked Down? Fix that Feng Shui!  

Bring your partner and any kids into the mix! Things will start to feel boring for each of us during quarantine, but even young ones can appreciate a change of arrangement. With extra time on our hands, now we can fix last year’s feng shui and make even the most 'lived-in' space feel renewed.

It’s also a great chance to declutter. Not leaving the house? No need for 5 pairs of shoes at the front door. Many people are taking the opportunity to sift through that deep, dark closet to find what they no longer need. Making that decision can be tough though... 

Items don't need to be broken to move on from them. If you’re ok without it, and it still works, add it to a donation pile so someone else can enjoy it. Go through that junk drawer (or two) and find things you forgot you had, and or never used. Making space from things you no longer need means you can be better organized with the space you have, for the things you actually enjoy.

These are words of wisdom especially for those new to the work-from-home (WFH) lifestyle. Toss those pieces of junk mail sitting on your desk, pick one pen for this week, and give some order to the items you need everyday.

Use extra time to ask yourself how each item serves you, how often you use it, and what sentimental value it might have. As your mind starts to feel clearer with less physical clutter, sheltering in place suddenly won’t feel as bad

Keep Kids AND Yourself Busy: Educational, Virtual Activities

In a matter of weeks the internet has become a subject of controversy. Whether as a privilege, or more a basic right? It's true, that we’re seeing existing online services have gone from luxury to essential.

That includes greater virtual access to education, books, and communication platforms than ever before. One example, is school districts across the nation have rapidly implemented online learning, some handing out laptops to students.

Many subscription services have also opened their digital resources free of charge for the time being. For adults and children, the latest, biggest news is millions of books being made public by the Internet Archive.

As libraries are closed across the U.S., otherwise free access to books, magazines and other materials has been reduced. The counter measure is making these resources available in digital format, a cause for current tensions for authors and other questions of copyright.

For now, you can access your favorite titles without your local library with the Internet Archive, which argues it is an emergency replacement to public access, simply stepping up to the challenge. 

FAMILY FRIENDLY VIRTUAL EDUCATION/EXERCISE

  • Social media influencers are streaming wake-up exercise opportunities for the youth, checkout this example to see if it’s a good fit for your kid(s).
  • Look into free virtual cooking lessons offered by cooking networks. Kids and adults.
  • Certain museums across the world are offering access to digital tours of their most exciting exhibits. Examples here
  • Online music lessons are now widely available on different platforms; even local tutors are offering streamed lessons in place of regularly scheduled in-person teaching
  • Ivy League universities are making known free courses which cover a range of topics: cooking, mortality, happiness, etc… check some out!

How to Exercise During Quarantine?

More states and city ordinances are placed, or updated by the day about sheltering in place. Fortunately, most of these allow for reasonable outside exercise activities – if you do go outside for it (running, biking), stay at least 10 feet away from others as you do.

The more distance the better, as heavy breathing is reported to increase the range of airborne transmission of the virus. And if you feel more comfortable from inside, there’s a number of great options. Inside equipment can be as simple as a jump-rope, kettlebells, or a yoga mat.

For some help to put them to work, Amazon Prime members have access to free exercise routines which you can stream from your TV or computer. Also, popular yoga instructors and fitness trainers have taken to Zoom to share their routines for at-home workouts.

Ultimately, a commitment to activity levels is one determining factor in immunity and mental health during isolation. It’s essential to keep moving, whether indoors or outdoors, find something that works for you.

You can find free options based on the workout type by checking out this complete guide.

Maintain Your Mental Health

The WHO, CDC, and other authorities of public health are increasingly vocal about the importance of mental and emotional health during this time. It’s not only healthcare workers who are experiencing higher stress levels, it’s just about everyone. 

Read over the WHO’s considerations of how to protect oneself and others against mental health issues more prone to arise during this time. If you're short on time, here's key takeaways:

STAY VIGILANT ABOUT NEWS

News outlets tend to lean towards negative and sensational news stories to keep attention. Pick a schedule to tune into news, such as once or twice a day, for a limited time. Choose authoritative resources rather than personal blogs and some mainstream media. This will keep you informed of the facts, without succumbing to rumors and excess worry.

KEEP IN CONTACT

Keeping in touch with friends and family may be tough for people. Social distancing is only likely to make matters more difficult. You can help yourself and loved ones by being active in calling, texting, and using other digital communications. You can also try virtual board games to keep in touch in a passive (and fun) way.

GIVE SUPPORT TO HEALTHCARE WORKERS

If you’re close with someone who works in healthcare, they are under immense stress right now. If you’re in a position to give some extra help, they will greatly appreciate it. Even simple measures like offering meal prep, or giving them a chance to vent can go a long way. 

JOT DOWN CRISIS HOTLINES

Here’s one which offers a text option ready for anyone going through a crisis or looking to help others during one

FIVE MORNING HACKS FOR QUARANTINE

See our article for five hacks to make your mornings more mindful, relaxed, and full of healthy energy.

The Bottom Line

Before we find ourselves carried away by the news, social media, or other pastimes, it’s essential to give thought to our well-being. That includes considerations of mental health, exercise needs, and opportunities for entertainment and education – many solutions exist during this time of lockdown.

With novel and more robust digital platforms like never before, it’s easier to pick up a new habit or hone skills while we hunker down at home. Examples include cooking, making music, decluttering, and reading favorite novels. It’s also a great chance to make the home environment feel more cozy and welcoming, while understanding and practicing the importance of a healthy routine.

With structure, even while at home, we can keep spirits high, stay in touch with friends and family, and ultimately support ourselves and others. Mindfulness practices should not be underestimated, and they are particularly relevant now; they can help us be intentional about the news we seek out, the emotions we feel (anxiety, worry), and using the mind to help the body relax.

It’s understood that the way we feel may impact the way our body responds to stress. So, by being careful about our thoughts, and what we’re drinking, we may help elevate immunity and positive outlook through the worries.

As you reorganize and create space for grounding mindfulness, be sure to clear space for a tea-station so you can prepare, and enjoy your matcha each day.

Especially if you're growing tired of only drinking water, or energy drinks – it’s one of the few and far between resources to offer balance of staying calm, energized, and healthy – all while staying home.

-Team Matcha Kari

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