- Set a routine and hold yourself to it. This is something I am so terrible at that I have never done it for more than a few months at a time, but when I do I feel such a big difference in my stability. Staying sane is the hardest fight in the world, and it takes work every. single. day. Which brings me to my next one —
- Get ready in the morning. I know most of y’all have probably heard “dress well, test well,” but it really has worked out for me. Quarantined at home, it’s easy to lose track of what day it is and live in the same sweatpants for six days without brushing your hair once (no judgment, totally been there), but even the simple act of something like putting on light makeup or a presentable outfit can change your outlook at the beginning of the day.
- Big surprise that I’m promoting…journaling! Blogging! Visual art! I don’t have the words to express how much this has helped me as I try to sift through the crummy emotions to find the ones that are constructive for me and my health. Get the darkness out on paper by whichever medium you’re most comfortable with. Separate it from your Self, your true inner soul that holds all the best parts of you, and you can be able to analyze it and see it for what it is — a passing thought or feeling. In some of my very darkest moments I have picked up a pen to find myself thirty minutes later feeling like the elephant sitting on my chest was gone. True, thorough introspection is not something we promote nearly enough in schools (or even in a lot of therapy groups I’ve been in), but it can lead to greater understanding of yourself and how to manage the moving parts that make up the intricate and complex human brain — something we’ll never fully understand.
- LIMIT YOUR NEWS CONSUMPTION. I know I’m not the first to say this, but I really had to work to implement this in my own life. Media continues to flash the most horrific events in the world in our faces everywhere we look because they feed off of a cycle of fear and consumption. I’ll include an interview with Marilyn Manson in which he speaks on this much more eloquently here. As an intensely sensitive and fragile-minded person, I can’t handle too much negative stimuli before it leaves me bedridden and afraid to ever venture out of my safe space. And that’s no way to live!
- Write gratitude lists! Many people do it first thing in the morning, some before bed. Nothing can center you like remembering that we are lucky even when our world seems to be crashing around us. We each have things and people and talents that no one else can replicate, and you have to keep reminding yourself that — even in the worst crisis we’ve faced in our lifetime — the good is still there.
- Exercise. I can hear my friends cackling at the fact that I would seriously promote exercising, but getting a personal trainer during my lowest points really showed me how much any physical activity during the day can help significantly to regulate your mood. The best thing about quarantine is that I have an excuse to work out in my room and avoid the gym anxiety that keeps me from ever doing adventurous sporty activities (something I dislike that about myself). Pull up a youtube vid or one of the hundreds of IG live programs that are going on every day now and just go off sis! I can even send you some good ones if you DM me!
- Breathing. This is pretty self-explanatory, but I didn’t buy into the whole meditation thing for a while. Just breathing in deeply for five seconds, holding for three, then releasing the air slowly for seven seconds is a method I’ve used forever to go to sleep or ward off panic attacks.
- Though I have friends with all sorts of differing beliefs and even more that don’t subscribe to the whole organized religious thing at all, I am going to encourage prayer as my most effective means of grounding myself. Whoever your higher power is, even if it’s nature or Noah Centineo, that higher power is the place to turn when the world feels topsy-turvy with nowhere to go (literally). I have found it hugely important in the maintenance of my happiness during these troubled times. I especially like to write out my prayers! I’m sorry if this isn’t your thing 🙂
- Have some grace with one another. I actually had a pretty hostile interaction this very day, but I realized after it happened that the very meaning of grace is to give forgiveness to people who don’t necessarily deserve it. We are all dealing with this terrifying and unpredictable virus, so I think making a concerted effort to be patient and gracious with people can ease some of the tension we feel between us. Remember that the enemy is not each other. It’s this dang virus which can (excuse me) shove it where the sun don’t shine. I try to make sure I’m not taking my own frustration or anxiety out on others. We’re all in this together, as brothers and sisters. Let’s join hands instead of pointing them at each other. Except please don’t actually join hands lol.
- Take your meds regularly! I have set alarms on my phone to make sure I’m on top of my medication more than I usually am, and I find that that helps immensely. There is no shame in being medicated for an illness we inherited.
- Read those novels/listen to those podcasts you haven’t gotten around to. Or go down a rabbit hole researching something you’ve always been curious about.
- Play with your dogs or other pets if you are lucky enough to have a safe space to do so. Really play. Hard.
- You know how we talked earlier about extending grace and patience to others even when it isn’t deserved. The person that it’s most important to do that with is yourself, especially if you’re battling mental illness at the same time. Catastrophe — natural disasters, terrorist acts, pandemics — is a huge trigger for people with more fragile minds, and, in my view, being unabashed when it comes to prioritizing self-care over other responsibilities at this time is absolutely acceptable. If you need to take a break from studying, take a break from studying. This is a time for us to heal and work on ourselves. Let’s use it for good! Don’t beat yourself up if you find yourself “overreacting” as compared to your friends. This ish is hard! Be kind to yourself!
*I know that I’m not qualified to give any kind of medical advice, but I can do my best to take away or at least diminish the hurt, as someone who has been though a lot of struggle with my mental. I don’t do these things every day by a long shot, but when I do I feel much better. Please consult with and listen to healthcare professionals!*
I hope that those suggestions may give someone at least one idea that may help them moving forward. Believe me, I recognize that there are thousands upon thousands of similar posts out there, but, from my perspective as a young bipolar girl who was just getting her feet under her again before all this shiz went to heck, these measures are what’s worked best for me.
I am always here to talk if you need it. Always. I don’t care who you are. I’ve felt alone and friendless for considerable portions of my life, so I won’t think it’s weird at all for someone I “barely know” to reach out to me.
All my love and well wishes during these days of widespread strife. Let’s all join together instead of pulling further apart.