These 3 things are helping me survive while I am still quarantined

It has been more than two months now that I am quarantined. I was suffering from unusual mental blocks affecting my creative expressions and mundane tasks alike. Every thought and every action sapped way more energy than it normally does. Overwhelmed with manuals and quick guides available on the internet establishing the ground rules of new normal, I wasn’t able to absorb much information. The new work from home structure seemed confusing for many of us; I was perpetually experiencing FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and thus, upgrading my skills. I tried the 21-days habit challenge and barely kept up with it for 21 days. The zoom networking sessions and online yoga classes felt absurd after a while.

The future is unpredictable, the everyday scenery doesn’t change much and practically there is nothing much to look forward to. The major impact of all of this change has been on my ability to focus. Suddenly there is a huge pressure to do more and cover more ground. And even though patience should have been my biggest virtue during this time, anxiety often precedes it, making the reality harder. I am fortunate enough that I realized the pattern well in time and began slowing down. Like many other essential services, I decided to write on a piece of paper what is absolutely essential for me to be able to find my focus. Three key take away emerged from this exercise:

I need to feel joyful.

Pani Puri, a North Indian version

I want to keep the good hormones flowing in times of crisis. When every conversation and every news piece includes the mention of the deadly virus, it is hard to take it off the mind. I can’t let all the negative energy surrounding me affect my thought process and lose hope unnecessarily.

Food makes me happy. If I am feeling a wave of sadness inside me, there are two things that always come to my rescue — Punjabi music and Indian street food. Living in a big city in North America, I was falling prey to eating frozen food and cooking for the week at once. But thanks to the quarantine, I, once again, cook my food daily. I look for quick recipes on the internet, take some tips from my mum and experiment with the rare spices that were lying unused at home. Once a week, I indulge myself in trying laborious recipes from the streets. Eating fresh food daily is the minimum that I can do for my body and soul. And when I click a nice picture of my stupendous preparation to share it on my social feed, what follows is a moment of instant gratification which I feel I truly deserve.

A fresh meal is now a part of my daily routine. It definitely took more than 21 days to fall in place and even though it is a never ending effort, I only hope that it stays.

I need a project to work on.

My home on the internet

I am currently in between jobs and job hunting has taken a major twist. That should not leave me feeling useless and sorry for myself. I’d rather collect my thoughts together and pick up a project that keeps me busy and gives me a goal for the day.

I always wanted to have a personal website. A home on the internet where I am able to document my professional journey. The skills that I have learned, projects that I have found challenging, off beaten paths that ultimately added to my growth; an exhibit of my experiences, learning and growth. It is a project on which I have procrastinated for a long time leaving it hanging like a lose thought at the back of my mind. An elephant in the room that was waiting to be addressed. Quarantine gave me the forceful push that nothing else could. And I came up with my personal website. I designed a two-week sprint for the project and realized that it wasn’t meant to be an elephant. I should have done it long ago. The fear that existed in my mind for so long vanished. I put my time to do the basic research, spoke to a few friends and tried my hands at technology. The outcome of this project has contributed to my skill upgrade in a practical way.

I need a buddy to talk to.

Photo by Mika Baumeister on Unsplash

I have been learning French since two years now. My French lessons also took a break along with many other activities. But the practice did not. My evening ritual now includes a virtual tea date and a French conversation sharing the highlights of the day with my gal-pal from the French school. From Netflix movies to cooking gambles, we try to throw in verbs and tenses and ask tough sounding questions to each other. We have even read bedtime stories to each other. As much as I enjoyed going for French conversation circles in those days, I have still managed to continue my practice in a fun and interactive way.

Video calls have saved me from loneliness and have become the norm for socializing. I have to admit that I do not always enjoy screen time but this half an hour of my day is indispensable. We struggle with speaking French, we share a hearty laugh but we do learn a few new tricks everyday.

As I retrospect on the last two months of quarantine, I take pride in all that I have achieved. I am grateful for good health, food on my plate and all that I have learnt in this time.

And while I am still quarantined, I try my best to find joy, pick up interesting projects and learn at least one new thing.

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