Because we’ve reached more than 100 days in quarantine and I’ve started to think my social contacts consist of the deer and rabbits in my backyard. 🙂
As a disclaimer, I would say one of the most powerful things that has lifted my spirits is talking to friends and family. However, it doesn’t happen as often as I’d like. With studying being one of my top priorities, (mental health being the first), I haven’t really been reaching out to friends as much as I should, and I have definitely reduced my social media presence. But falling off of the face of the earth was all fun and games until I realized it wasn’t sustainable. So in addition to maintaining social contact with real humans and not just the animals in my backyard, here are some things keeping me sane during this lovely time.
1. Exercising daily
Yeah, you read that right. I never worked out more than maybe two or three times a week, but about 6 days into quarantine I realized that if I didn’t move around for a bit, my homemade bread loaves would catch up to me. I started doing some light exercises on my own and slowly bumped this up to following Youtube videos. Fortunately, my parents also wanted to join in, so we started following some simple 10 – 20 minute videos together. As our stamina increased, we started working out at least 30 min to sometimes 1 hour a day. Over time, I noticed an improvement in my general mood and confidence. We had come back from India in March when quarantine started and so losing the extra weight from eating all the amazing food was definitely a plus. In addition to improvements in mood, I generally just felt more motivated to keep going, and it was a positive feedback loop as I got stronger. I would especially like to shout out the fitness YouTubers Emi Wong and Chloe Ting. They are the reason I see increased muscle tone and some ab lines starting to shyly introduce themselves.
2. Cooking new foods
In addition to our homemade bread recipe, cooking new foods has helped me express my creativity and feel more in control of my health and wellbeing. When I was in college I definitely dabbled in some staple dishes like fishes, pastas, rice dishes, etc., but not as often as now. Now that I am home and school is out, I have some more freedom to try out different things. Some new things that I have tried include homemade bread, english muffins, shakshuka, lasagna, sweet potato toast, risotto, and seared scallops. Some staples that I continue to thrive on include overnight oats, pasta, and salad. It feels nice to take charge of our lunch and/or dinner from time to time, and I am glad I can contribute to our household in some tangible way. I sure know it makes my parents happy.
3. Listening to some dope music
I do this whether we are in a pandemic or not, but it definitely has a therapeutic effect. Sometimes a solo dance party in your room is all you need. I can’t turn up in the club at the moment but I sure can in the shower.
One day we were using green onion in something and had cut off the roots. My mom had the idea of planting them in our backyard so they would grow more. We also had some pumpkin seeds laying around that we planted as well. Instead of eating the resulting pumpkin fruit as one normally would do, we actually harvest the flowers, coat them in batter, and deep fry them. It tastes so so good. Anyways, in just a week, we saw the pumpkin seeds starting to sprout, and the green onion had already shot upwards. I’m not sure if it was the lawnmower dude or the rabbits, but one day I went out with scissors to use some of the green onions in my cooking, only to find them obliterated. The perpetrator had also gnawed off the start of the pumpkin leaves. So one wild Saturday, my mom and I drove to this small farm place and got some mint, coriander, zucchini, cucumber, roses, lilies, zinnias, and celosias. I read on Twitter that placing flowers around your vegetable plants protect them from creatures, and so far, that has worked! We also had an existing green chili plant and some basil. After buying the new plants, we replaced the soil on both the old and new guys and they have been thriving.
Overall, I’d say working on something consistently and feeling accomplished as you watch your growth and progress has been super rewarding. In that way, exercising, cooking, and gardening are alike. They have helped me develop a more robust sense of self during this time, and for that I am thankful.