Probably the most surprising thing that has emerged for me so far is the “unvarnished” side of this experience: my inner voyeur is fascinated with the backdrops of singers’ living rooms, CEOs growing scraggly beards, and just about everyone looking somewhat more real. Personally, so far I got three things out of the past couple of months. I finally started to use Google Pay (ok, it may be not super logical, considering that you’re trying to avoid dealing with your wallet but still have to pull your phone out). I’m trying to transform my general anxiety into a more harmonious relationship with myself and the world through periodic dates with the Headspace app. Somewhat more successful has been doodling with the children’s book illustrator Rob Biddulph: turns out a five-year-old and an adult can equally delight in drawing a fictional dinosaur called Gregosaurus.
As a self-isolation lifehack, I’d propose finding something non-digital to do. At first I didn’t get why all of a sudden people hoarded puzzles and coloring books, but after working and studying exclusively via computer for some time, I started to grow tired of technology. So, now I read paper-print books instead of digital copies and limit my time on the phone. I also try to prepare something a bit fancier than what’s usually on the menu, even though I’m not a big fan of cooking. Doing anything with your bare hands is a relief after spending most of your day online.
These days thanks to my thesis work and my own wandering mind I can only think of psychological archetypes, artificial life and some 3D modeling. Sometimes I even forget half of the world is still in isolation. Nevertheless, music, art and taking trips with my favorite dog Машапан (a combination between Masha and the Mexican candy Mazapan) to a nearby park is good enough to enjoy and refill my energy towards life to keep striving forward on these difficult times. If I could give advice I would say: pet a dog when you encounter one on the street, it will fill you with great joy.
After trying out different ways for combatting quarantine anxiety with varying success (baking – a total flop; films and TV shows – much better but alas, Netflix is a finite resource, and I’m hardly even joking; Animal Crossing – great but then in a moment of weakness gave my Switch Lite away to my exams-ridden sibling), one day I just started randomly sketching on a piece of paper and was surprised by just how well it allowed me to block the world out for an hour or two. I may not be very good at it, but it’s blissfully distracting and so much fun, which is what matters as far as I’m concerned, and there are tons of tutorials out there to help improve your technique should it ever become a bother – we’ve listed a couple here. (Still itching to get my Switch back, though, because that Animal Crossing stuff is go-o-od.)
My coping strategies for the current crisis are not really that different from the way I usually approach the storms of life. First, there is writing – in any language, any format and in any state of mind, but especially when the panic is growing stronger. Documents keep appearing on my laptop and blogpost ideas keep forming, and releasing them all always leaves me refreshed and calm. Also, here’s my favorite musical companion for such sessions. Second, my habit of video journaling took a peak, now even prompting me to finally get more into editing the almost daily logs I can’t help but record – maybe I’ll be one of those who posts a quarantine story once. But for now, I am glad to have rediscovered those two ways to organize my thoughts while also making “art” out of it.
People say that self-isolation is the time to be productive, to learn a new language, to find a new career, to finish all the possible online courses. But maybe it’s a chance to calm down a bit? Productivity is great but being under its pressure doesn’t do any good. Being relaxed, calm, and mentally healthy is the best thing we could do right now. Doing yoga and meditation, calling friends every day, drinking herbal tea, and watching cheesy TV shows (I’m on the 3rd season of Gossip Girl) can help you to lose the stress a little bit. When it’s all over nobody will brag about being the most productive self-isolated person in the world, everybody will be just happy to see their friends, family, and finally, give each other a hug.