This pandemic has been going for long enough now that it’s possible that some or all of the systems that you designed to keep you happy, well, and fit have failed without you noticing or doing anything about it. Like when you forget about your new years resolution after a few months.
I know that things have taken a turn for me. It’s not easy to adapt to this new situation.
If that sounds familiar, CGP Grey has created a couple of good videos that could help you. I took the time to rewatch them today, and they really highlighted some of the things that I was doing wrong.
The first, released in 2017, can be seen as a guide for what NOT to do.
It’s honestly a great video. As Grey correctly explains in a footnote video, instructional guides about how to be happy can feel inauthentic. A guide about what to avoid is much more useful. I didn’t mention it, but it actually really helped me when I was severely depressed in 2017. Grey released this video serendipitously at a time when I needed it most.
The key take away is that doing the following things will make you miserable, so should be avoided:
- Staying still, avoiding exercise
- Having an irregular sleep schedule
- Maximizing screen time; going to sleep looking at your phone, and using it as soon as you wake up
- Encouraging negative emotions, eg: by looking at the news
- Setting unmeasurable or unachievable goals. Waiting for motivation to strike.
- Obsessing over trying to be happy.
- Following your self-destructive impulses
How many of those are you doing?
I’ve done all of them at one point or another during this current situation. It was definitely worth watching the video again.
The second, created specifically to help people cope with Lockdown, was released just a few months ago.
In this video, Grey uses an allegory of being in an isolated spaceship to outline the need to maintain our physical and mental health during lockdown.
It’s hard to intentionally improve our mental health, but we can establish a baseline by doing physical activity and maintaining our physical health.
Our environment has a huge impact upon what we do. Divide your home into the following spaces:
- A space for exercise. If you don’t have equipment, you can do body weight exercises. If you have access to safe outdoor spaces, make sure to use that too. Make sure you set a minimum amount of time, and stick to it.
- A space for sleep. Do not use your phone here. Do not eat here. Do not linger here. It’s just for sleep. If you’re failing to sleep, leave and try again later. Setting an alarm to wake up is important to maintaining a consistent sleep schedule. It doesn’t matter when you wake up - so long as the time is consistent.
- A recreation zone. Go here to do activities that you actually enjoy. Only do these activities if you intend to give them your full attention. Keep an eye on the quality of the recreation, and make sure you set a maximum time limit.
- A creation zone. Somewhere to work, study, or develop skills. Crafts, coding, cooking. Make sure this space is dedicated; so do not consume entertainment here, do not eat here.
If your home is small, it could be hard to keep these zones separate, but it’s important to do your best.