It’s hard. Self-isolation sucks big time, but in order to keep each other safe, this is what we have to do. The good news is that the social distancing measures put in place to combat the spread of pandemic COVID-19 are paying off as the rates of new infections are slowing down.
Sick or not, this pandemic is scaring everyone and stress levels are rising as the days go on. For many of us, the toll taken on our mental health is hard to handle. Still, as long as we keep on, keeping on, we are going to make it through this crisis.
To try to ease the discomfort and make it a little easier, here are some tools to help you maintain good mental health.
Boredom sucks. Battle it by getting baked and staying active. Sure, it’s really easy to just sit around unsatisfied, as you binge watch movies, bored with life during self-isolation in this pandemic. But it doesn’t have to be this bleak. Mix it up. Keeping busy means keeping on. Stoned or not, a pot smoker in a pandemic can find joy in simple pleasures and the mental health benefits are surprisingly effective. Beware the trap of doing nothing and laying around. It’s really hard right now but get your mind into moving mode and it will be easier to pass the days.
Look at Art
We use vision in order to interpret the world around us. When we look at an image, blood flows to our brain as nerves fire, helping us to make sense of what we see and how we respond. Looking at art has a profound effect. In one study, research showed that art significantly stimulated the emotional regulation center of the prefrontal cortex; the result was a physical reduction of stress within the body. Taking some time to look at art and analyze what you see, biologically, will help calm you down. To maximize that effect, look at a piece and ask yourself some questions:
- Describe to yourself what you see and what is lacking.
- Think about the deeper meaning behind the piece and what the artist wanted you to experience.
Meditate…your way through this pandemic
Think of meditation like taking vitamins: you may or may not always notice an immediate effect, but when used regularly the benefits can be life-changing. Try adding a five-minute meditation to your daily routine. It’s all about breathing, and as long as that is your focus, understand that there is no wrong way to do it. If you would like some instruction, there are beautiful guided meditations on YouTube and through apps. The bonus for a stoner is that regular meditation can help increase your lung capacity, helping you take bigger tokes. If meditation is a struggle for you, here are some tips to help make it easier:
- Focus on your breathing. If you can’t turn off the voice inside your head, imagine turning down the volume.
- Give yourself instant forgiveness. Your body and mind is responding to meditation as it should, each time and every time. Let go of any expectations you have for yourself and just breathe.
- No time, focus or patience? Choose a song to listen to as you meditate and focus on your breathing for the time that it plays. Pick something that affects you personally and deeply. It doesn’t matter what genre it is, as long as the sound massages your soul.
Author Suggestions: Acid Raindrops by People Under the Stairs or 93 ’til Infinity by Souls of Mischief
Reorganize your house
If you are going stir crazy and you need to be in a new environment, create one by rearranging your furniture and artwork. It’s amazing how different a room can feel when you simply move some things around and the effect is instant. Plus, physical activity can help you burn off any anxious energy and stress.
Practice healthy living habits
No one is going anywhere unless they absolutely have to, thus we all have time for the daily routine activities that keep us all healthy. Not only will you reap the rewards of these activities, but each completed task also provides a sense of accomplishment. When there is nothing to do but stay at home, feeling productive can be a breath of fresh air. Think of the things that you can do for yourself that will benefit you for the rest of your life, for example:
- Drinking water
- Getting a decent sleep
- Stretching and yoga, or a full workout at home
- Getting some exercise – depending on individual abilities
Check out online e-book subscriptions. Most services will offer a free trial and they let you keep the book, even if you don’t stick with the service. Now is the time to finally learn about any subject that makes you curious or to read for pure pleasure. Plus, finishing a book gives you a sense of accomplishment. If you’re not into reading, you just haven’t found the right book yet but doing so will open your world. Life rarely affords us the time to devour a good time, so take advantage of this opportunity, and read.
Get away and tour a museum…from your living room
Did you know that there are several museums offering free virtual tours? Smoke a bowl and go take a trip to The Louvre or The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sick of art and feel like something a bit different? NASA offers an online tour of The Langley Research Center in Virginia and it pairs nicely with a strong sativa. You can also tour The Vatican. Search for free online tours to save yourself the lineup and plane ticket – what’s out there will surprise you.
Touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing…
Trying to think about something other than the pandemic coronavirus is pretty hard these days and it’s really easy to let your fear take over your touch with reality. Sensual awareness is one way to practice mindfulness, bringing attention back to the present. When panic hits and you need to calm down, try directing your focus to all five senses. Think about activities that trigger them and the effect it has on you – cannabis, for example. Touching a sticky bud, the sight and smell of that emerald, dank chronic. The taste of a dry toke and the sounds of the lighter strike. Yep. Simultaneously stimulating the senses can be a potent way to ease tension during this pandemic lockdown!
The next time your mind begins to run away, stop and take inventory of all of your senses. Even if you don’t have something nice to focus on, this practice will bring your mind back to the present.
Connect with a loved one
With the technology available these days, there is no reason to feel disconnected from society. If you’re starting to panic but you’re forced to stay indoors, get online or on the phone. Keeping in contact with friends and loved ones will help keep you sane. Plus, thanks to skype and FaceTime, we have visual contact, germ-free, and a daily session online at 4:20 is a great way to stay connected.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
If you are struggling right now with this crisis, you are not alone. Everyone is managing the stress of the situation differently and we are not all equipped the same. If it is becoming too much to manage, mentally and/or physically, ask for help. Do not be afraid to call your network or emergency services, regardless of whether you feel the situation calls for it. It’s better to act rather than wait for a problem to get worse.
Call the need crisis line for stress and mental health. Counsellors are available 24/7, plus the service is free and anonymous.
During his first inaugural address, Franklin D. Roosevelt said that we have “nothing to fear but fear itself” and those words ring true right now. They speak to the fact that fear and how it affects our society, is the only thing that truly stands in our way. Through determination and action, we can surmount any obstacle, regardless of how bleak the circumstances may appear.
We are going to make it through this pandemic as long as we continue our course of action. Stay at home and socially distance yourself until told otherwise, but in the meantime, breathe and remember that this is going to pass. Find ways to take care of yourself to stay happy and healthy.
How Art Changes Your Brain: Differential Effects of Visual Art Production and Cognitive Art Evaluation on Functional Brain Connectivity
Anne Bolwerk, 1 , 2 Jessica Mack-Andrick, 3 Frieder R. Lang, 4 Arnd Dörfler, 5 and Christian Maihöfner 1 , 2 , Yong He