The Mental Game
As I reflect back on my experience, I realise that having coronavirus is more of a mental and psychological game than anything else. With the news bombarding us with daily figures of new cases and deaths, this does creates a sense of panic.
However, I will admit that mentally and psychologically, I thought I was done for. It felt like a death sentence to me. Being in total isolation at home, I had to kill time. The worse things I did was watch the local news, which was all doom and gloom. Cases are rising. Air travel shut down. Go into isolation. Lockdown. Number of deaths rising fast. Images of patients on ventilators being flashed across the tv screen didn’t help me.
Such negativity harmed me. It made me feel like as if I am going to die. I couldn’t sleep all night; either I was coughing my life out, or just plain worried. I couldn’t meet people. I couldn’t see anyone. I was beginning to miss that human interaction. Phone/ video calls just didn’t cut it for me. I felt very disconnected.
What did I do to live through each day?
The first thing I did was to make a routine for myself. Even though I had nothing to do, I made a timetable. This was the single most important thing I could do.
I scheduled time for my breakfast, blogging, reading, lunch, replying to emails, praying, making those phone calls, declutter my library and wardrobe and so on. I created tasks and activities which motivated me to live through the day. I had written down all my tasks, and there were moments when I didn’t feel like doing anything- but with those tasks staring back at me, I did them.
It didn’t matter how big or small the task was- just as long it was something I had to do. I mean, I even made the effort to make brownies and cookies for myself. When I completed a task, I felt better about myself. Something as little as making my bed to something as big as cooking food for myself, I felt accomplished after completing a task.
Before going to bed, I would make a mental note of my tasks for the next day, which would help me to get up and move about. This basically kept my mind preoccupied and that did wonders because I didn’t have enough time to think of coronavirus.
This was so important for me. Little things took me a long way. With a 102 F temperature and an aching body, I forced myself to walk up and down the staircase. At times I would walk outside in my garden. Walk. This really helped me in staying physically active. I could have been lying in bed all day long but that would have been counterproductive. There is a book called Walk With Your Wolf which is written by a psychotherapist. He teaches us how to walk while sorting out your issues. Helped me immensely to declutter my thoughts, change my perspective and to feel good about myself.
EAT at HOME
I ate a lot. I snacked a lot. I didn’t lose my appetite as such. I am the kind of person where when I am stressed out, I eat. In between meals, I snack. To kill time, I made my brownies and cookies and would snack on them. Anything sweet or chocolate would help reduce my stress levels.
However, a huge blessing in disguise for me has been the fact that restaurants are closed, so I was forced to eat home cooked food, even on weekends. Eating at home was more beneficial for me: it was safe, fresh, clean and hygienic. I felt that change in my body. My digestive system was working much better. I had a general overall feeling of being healthy. No junk foods. No oily food. No food from outside.
I continued with this practice even after my recovery, and now have sworn off from eating out at Lahore’s restaurant. I feel healthier and on the whole I’ve never felt sick from eating home food (as opposed to feeling sick at times from eating out). I actually can’t believe how much I would eat out. As a side benefit, I have also realised that I save money by eating at home. It’s only now that I have seen how restaurants in Lahore rip us off.
I’ve also incorporated a lot more vegetables and fruits into my diet now. Something that perhaps I wouldn’t have done otherwise. So another blessing in disguise for me. It’s been four months in isolation, and in all honesty, I have eaten outside food a total of three times (Delish pizza twice (love their Hawaiian one), Bamboo Union once (very average sigh)).
I had all the time in the world for two weeks i was unwell. I wasn’t doing any of my client work. I had had enough of Netflix. So what did I do? I did what I absolutely love to do: read books. I had literally over a 100 books that were on my To Be Read list. Reading really helped me keep my mind off coronavirus.
Reading was my perfect escape. It helped me forget my own existence as I got caught up with the characters in the books. I allowed myself to be transported to another world. I allowed myself to experience the characters’ journeys.
The news is just a constant barrage of negativity. Avoid it at all costs. The media thrives on negativity. They feed off people’s fears. However, I found some brilliant Facebook pages that focuses on positivity and stories of kindness and empathy during the pandemic. I stopped following all the toxic pages on Facebook and Instagram, and started following all the positive ones.
With so much free time on my hands in isolation, I found myself counting my blessings- something my dad had taught me. There were an incredible number of moments, and still are, where I couldn’t stop thanking God for all His blessings. These moments of gratitude weren’t just confined to my period under coronavirus, but for my entire life really. There were a literal outpour of gratitude from me– so many things that I took for granted made me realise how precious they are. Little things like breathing, which we all take for granted, became so important to me during coronavirus.
ONE LIFE TO LIVE
At the end of the day, I had realised several days into falling sick how much of a mental game Coronavirus is. It’s not a death sentence. There are people recovering from it. It’s not the end of the world. Just because it’s a new virus of which we don’t know much about, doesn’t mean it will kill you.
One thing I realized during all this was that I have only ONE life to live. Every second that passes by is forever gone. How am I using my time now? I have changed all my priorities. I have made plans to do all those things I was putting off. I have reconnected with so many people I had not been in contact with. I have begun to live my life for me. I have begun to pamper myself. This is what is called Self-Care.