Loosen Up! A Guide to Not Sucking at “Quarantine”

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Author’s Note: I’m still a person financially recovering from previous unemployment who hasn’t been able to afford mental health counseling. Because of these circumstances, I have become quite skilled at practicing the art of holding my sanity together with a string. In other words, this is my SUPER BOWL! I have been unknowingly training for social distancing for quite some time now, so anything I say should be taken with a grain of salt because I clearly have an unfair advantage– but here are my thoughts anyway (because it’s my blog and I do what I want!)

As an introverted writer who is good to survive off strong Wi-Fi, the company of my kids and my man (if I have one) I’m obviously doing okay in the midst of self-distancing and chill. My poetry performances, speaking engagements and shows have all been cancelled or postponed, I’m working from home and the kids are out of school so I’ve been using this time to allow myself to be “bored”. [I totally understand that I am in a pretty decent situation with the convenience, luxury and privilege to be able to work from home. I will say, this does nothing to assuage my fears that special accommodations from companies rarely lasts when it begins to affect their overall dollar. Job security is on most of our minds regardless of our situations, so don’t hate– from the richest celebrity to the poorest of the regulars– all of our lives have been flipped upside down by this virus.]
Sitting in silence, reading, meditating, watching shows and chillin with two or three other people we enjoy is really not a problem for some of us. I mean, I LOVE to make my introvert jokes about myself but now that the world is in this predicament I am realizing how extraverted and type A most of society really is (or pretends to be!) Reading quarantine memes, tweets, articles, updates, etc. has ramped up the empathy I feel for my peeps across the globe, so during week 3 (or 4 or 5– I don’t know), I have decided to prematurely dole out my observations, advice and journaling prompts for those attempting to sort out and maintain their sanity while being cooped up with their loved ones.

toe nails

She didn’t have to do a nigga like that!

A Particular Petty

Like I said, I love reading the quarantine tweets to laugh and be nosy about what everyone else is up to during this time of social distancing. From what I can tell, some of us are crumbling and that’s because… we need to loosen the fuck up! This pandemic is happening to all of us and no one gives a flying fuck where the good china dishes are supposed to be stored at a time like this. No, I don’t want to do my morning jog, I don’t want to shower or TRY today– times are weird and it’s ok to allow ourselves a chance to take a little time to adjust to the new normal. Not everyone sharing a roof with you is feeling onboard with your super particular expectations about where pillows should be placed on the couch or if the bed is made up correctly.
We are a tightly wound people who control the unpredictability of our lives by sticking to our own sense of routine and tidiness vs. those who likely live more spontaneously and are perhaps a bit disordered; all being thrown into even more chaos in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. What solution is there for everyone to get along other than for everyone to loosen the hell up, respectively? We are staying inside for a purpose that is greater than how annoyed we are by the sound of someone’s loud chewing, or excessive eating of all the survival snacks. Perhaps we could afford to be petty about these things weeks ago but there has since been a paradigm shift.

Self-compassion is a thing (I am obsessed with!) and it starts with allowing ourselves to acknowledge that this paradigm shift is necessary, but also uncomfortable and scary, so it’s ok if we don’t have our shit together and are struggling to transition. As a result of uncomfortable scariness, we can sometimes take out our fear on others in the form of anger or annoyance, or project unfair expectations onto people who are possibly finding their own ways to cope as well. How we treat other people is often a reflection of how we treat ourselves, so if you tend to be hard on yourself during tough times it might be a good time to observe how hard you are being on those you share a space with as well. Your particulars and preferences are now petty and irrelevant. Getting along with others has everything to do with compromise, choosing your battles and an easygoingness that we have not promoted in this country at all because everyone wants to be a quick-witted asshole or a sassy-mouthed bombshell. Well, while we’re missing our hair and nail appointments and steadily feeling uglier by the second on the outside, let’s take some time to work on bettering the inside, shall we?

Who are you sharing a space with during social distancing?
Do you know how they are coping with the coronavirus pandemic and changes to their everyday lives?
Have you been honest with yourself about how you are coping with the pandemic?
Are there any behaviors that seem to be getting on your housemate’s nerves more than usual?
Are there any behaviors of others that seem to be getting on your nerves more than usual?
Are you reasonably annoyed/angered by these behaviors? Yes or no and why?
cupcakes

Don’t fake it until you make it! If at any point you find yourself serving “Shut The Fucupcakes” you may need to find a corner alone to meditate/woosah


Focus Your Empathy
None of us are in the best position here, even the most introverted and anti-social. Two things people enjoy, freedom and the company of others, are being regulated by the government for reasons most of us completely understand but also: this sucks. My personal theory, is that the 24hour news cycles, along with the constant barrage of GoFundMes and social media timelines filled with sob stories related to the pandemic is exhausting our empathy. With technology helping us to foster the feeling of global connection, is there a chance it could it also be draining our empathic resources for use in our personal lives?
If after reading and saturating with surreal news all day your only desire is curl into a ball and stare aimlessly or cry– then imagine the stress of what others under your roof are feeling? From your boo, to the kids, to the dog, there is a crackling of nervous energy and lifestyle change that is effecting every single living thing under your roof right now.
Are you allowing others to process stress in their own ways or are you so busy processing your own thoughts and feelings that you haven’t paid attention to how others might be coping? 
What are some ways you can actively express or exhibit empathy to others in your household?

Finding Out What You Need
During times of stress I either shut down or I go into worker bee mode. Neither of these tactics deal with the issue at hand or are a direct solution to whatever my needs are at the moment. Recently, when I feel tension finding it’s familiar home in the furrow of my brow, I’ve gotten into the habit of asking myself internally: what is it that I need right now?
Every time I ask this question I’ve been surprised by how simple the answers have been. Sometimes a bitch just needs a hug, or an encouraging word or some time alone to think and process. A lot of what we need is inside of ourselves so we really have more control over external situations than we believe because we are built with the tools to be able to rescue and empower ourselves. Having needs from other people is also a valid need, albeit more difficult to ask for because there is the possibility that the other person is unable to meet our needs and dealing with a “No” always feels like rejection. Because it is…but that’s ok.
The purpose of assessing your personal needs during times of stress is to become more in tune and intentional about methods to self soothe, and it separates your own anxiety from the anxiety of others you may be carrying with you. Life happens to us at an accelerated rate, how often do we stop to take a moment to think about how our needs have changed and how to go about making the adjustments to accommodate those changes? The first step is to find out by taking at least a moment to examine what your needs are, especially for parents and caretakers who are so used to meeting the needs of others without even a thought of their own. It’s ok to think about or jot down your specific needs to help relieve your stress and to begin to brainstorm solutions even if they are not immediate.
The next time you are feeling stressed, make a list of what you need
*If you can’t tell the difference between needs and wants– write down both!

The bottom line of this random blog post is: these are strange times. You are no longer type A
intovert
Capricorn
unicorn
lactose intolerant
keto or whatever classification you used in normal life that required special accommodations for your ridiculous personality traits that render you unable to compromise or even be NICE to others for 3 seconds! Unfortunately, we are all just vulnerable humans right now…and some us should really give loosening up a try.
Tell me, how are you taking care of your mental health while shut in with loved ones?                                                           

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