Salam and peace be upon you. To my non-existent readers, so good to see you all again. Fast forward to two years later and here I am, once again, back to writing. A lot has surely happened in the meantime, to say the least.
The still very much ongoing pandemic.
Yes, that is what anyone and everyone are talking about currently. It has become so much a daily part of our lives, honestly, I cannot really even remember how life was like before the pandemic hit.
For me, in this moment of time, in this space that I am occupying, I am just trying my best to make use of the free time that is suddenly presented to me, against my will. Quarantine. Home surveillance order. Self-isolation. For introverts like myself, this sudden abundance of free time feels both like a blessing and a curse. Like romantic evening rain and merciless storm. Like warm hearty porridge that fills your tummy but burns your tongue. Two sides to the same coin. Bitter and sweet.
I’m off work! But I’ll have to pay double later…
It feels good, to not have the responsibility of work hanging by your shoulder anymore, albeit for a short time. Especially in this line of work where we are perpetually exhausted and drained by the sheer overwhelming weight that comes with our title. I’ve been whining so much about being tired and wanting a leave, that voila! Ten days of rest for you! Right there in my face. Although technically, what it does is just giving a mere pause to my suffering. I get this time-off at the expense of my actual leave later. All those plans, gone down the drain just like that.
After I got through the denial and the anger phase of quarantine, comes the bargaining and the depression phase. I am well aware of this though, so I try to navigate. Since there is no bargaining when it comes to quarantine, and being depressed will only cost me time, straight to acceptance it is.
It is what it is. Que sera friggin’ sera
– me, 2021
So what can we do better?
I learned from my experience. During quarantine, the more imperative it becomes that you have to be strict with yourself and your schedule. Letting yourself go will only mean letting those free time go by, meaninglessly. So no, do NOT do that to yourself.
Pro-tip #1: Do it NOW
That book you’ve left untouched for months? Read it now
That recipe you’ve always been curious to try but never get to? Come, start chopping
That jog in the early hours when only the moon is present? Let’s go (wear a mask, avoid humans, try to avoid spirits too if possible)
Family and friends? Video-call the shit out of them. Make sure they know you love them
My point is, whatever it is that we have always wanted to do, try and do it immediately. No waiting for a better time, a better situation, a better YOU. This free time is meant to be used in this way. You don’t have to follow any order too. Reprogram your brain to stop procrastination right in the head. Just try it, and see how liberating it will feel.
I’ve also learned that aiming high and mighty usually ended up being low and nothing at all. I’m not sure about you all overachievers out there, I’m just saying that is how it’s like for me. So if you are anything like me, my advice is to just keep simple goals first. For example, for me it’s:
Perform prayers early
Shower twice daily
Exercise and sweat for 30 minutes
Achieve one main task per day
Aim for achievable and reasonable goals, and slowly you can progress. It will give a better impact on your own morale if you are able to tick off those simple tasks. Trust me, during quarantine, if you can drag yourself out of bed is already an amazing feat by itself. Break that vicious cycle of Netflix-eat-sleep-poop, and incorporate more activities that would make you feel inherently better at the end of the day.
Pro-tip #3: Unwind and relax mindfully
This is a work in progress, even for me. I am so used to being in a constant state of anxiety and the “fight or flight” reaction is hard at work, even when I’m not. I realized that I may not know how to unwind healthily anymore. The thing about being an introvert is, we tend to think A LOT. Being in quarantine essentially means we now have all the time in the world to overthink. Not such a great combo after all.
For me, reflective and contemplative moments do help. My point of reflection usually comes whenever I watch a drama/movie or read a book. Sometimes even from some random memes on Instagram. Whatever suits your style and inspires you, use those moments to actually be still and work with your thoughts. Identify your main concerns and sometimes, just putting in out there helps, even when you haven’t really found a real solution yet. Time to be vulnerable with yourself, and mind you, it will be uncomfortable. You will likely need a few tries, but keep going. Mindfulness takes practice, but it will bring about a sense of gratitude and appreciation for everything in your life.
In this moment of time, I am here.
Lastly.. choose YOU
I will end with a quote from a new drama I’ve watched recently. It’s about a witch who will grant people’s wishes, but at a severe price to pay in return. It talks about choices, how we made each of them, be it big or small, and how life is essentially made up of thousands of those little life choices. A wise witch – wicked, but wise still.
Unexpected things happen all the time. Whatever choice you make determine the end result. Just like two sides of a coin, a price has two sides, light and darkness. But people only tend to look at the light. Since that makes it easier for them to make their decision.
– The Witch’s Diner, 2021
I pray we all will get through this period of self-isolation and come out in a much stronger state, both physically and emotionally. Till then, take care!