#21 How to Stay Sane During a Pandemic

What we think, how we think it, and the ensuing actions that follow, especially during times of disparity, matter. The Coronavirus is serious and all measures and recommendations given by the experts should not be taken lightly, but what I think is also serious is the perpetual onslaught of digital fear that we ingest from media titans, social media, and clickbait enthusiast. Being present is always important, but even more so during these troubling times. I have listed a few ways tips that have helped me keep sane during these uncertain times.

Exercise — Although we can’t hit up our local gym, bootcamp circuit, or beer yoga class, it doesn’t mean we can’t take care of our bodies. Exercise helps flush bacteria from the lungs and airways. This may decrease our risk of getting sick. Also, exercise speeds up the motion for our white blood cells, which makes these cells into super-soldier cells as they detect illnesses faster than if you weren’t exercising. For me, it’s a 5k to start the day followed by a workout in our garage. Now it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of our local 24 Hour Fitness, but the wife and I have it equipped with a barbell, battle ropes, kettlebells, push-up bars, and a jump-rope. We have had to become resourceful during this time, and it’s been great. Make your own space, get creative, and take a yoga or bhangra (North Indian Energetic Dance) class on YouTube.

Cold showers — Wim Hof aka the Ice-Man, has been an influential figure in my life. After watching his story about a few years ago, I have started to embrace the cold. Cold showers have many benefits, including the increase of brown adipose tissue (aids in weight loss), an increase in alertness (no brainer here), and improves blood circulation which has many benefits. Although these benefits are great, for me it’s more to do with harnessing my mind because the strength it takes to endure a cold shower, has carried over in other avenues in my life (work, relationships, diet, etc.) and created a positive imprint.

Cooking — When I mean cooking, cook for real. Save TV, music, and podcasts for a different time of the day. The point of cooking can be akin to spiritual practice. Take time and cut your ingredients, be perceptive when you kiss your frying pan with oil/butter, and watch the alchemy take place as your imagination, hands and mind work in unison to give you sustenance that not only nourishes your body but hopefully your spirit as well. Be present during each and every step and enjoy your creation with family, friends, or even by yourself.

Information fast — The problem with news today is that there is so much, and many of the companies that share what’s going on in the world have devised clever algorithms to grab your attention and bring you down an everlasting rabbit hold of endless cringe-worthy novelty. While knowing what is going on is important, it’s more important to guard your mind and not be swayed by the next enticing title. I’ve had days where I have constantly clicked on the newest article, and not only was it taxing on the mind, it has affected my mood and thought patterns. Thankfully I am aware of this and take reasonable measures to keep away, but many don’t, or don’t know-how. Self-awareness is a practice, but perhaps Lao Tzu’s words can speak to your better half.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.’”

Organize your life— A quarantine is an excellent time to organize your life. Get on that minimalism train and truly access what you need and don’t. On an atomic level, the more things we accumulate the more energy it consumes. When you have fewer things, you have more space, more clarity for the mind, and perhaps even more energy. Organize your finances. Take time to separate the needs and wants, and then scrutinize the needs that are disguised as wants, and do the same for wants. Make a plan to save money for something that will give you long-lasting gratification or more toilet paper.

Reading/journaling — In our world of instant gratification, we can binge entire seasons on Netflix, order everything with Prime, and generally fast-forward everything. But for what, we aren’t going anywhere. Reading and journaling are not only enjoyable, but it helps us practice patience without really practicing it. To remain undisturbed and tuned into what’s in front of us, we give ourselves the encouragement needed to use our imagination. Reading as of late has inspired me to write again. Something that I haven’t done in a while, but something I hope to continue. I don’t journal as much today, but it has helped put into paper the things I feel and things I want to accomplish.

Meditation /Presence — The only place you can be is where you are. Simple enough, right? From all the wisdom I have gained from the Greeks, Vedas, Gita, Buddhism, Bruce Lee, Jiddu Krishnamurti, etc., presence is the most obvious and overlooked state of mind, yet it’s the only place we can be at any given time. Presence and meditation are synonymous in that they speak the same truths. Whether you close your eyes and sit in a corner is irrelevant (although highly recommend), but to take notice of right now can heal many of our mental issues. Today, where uncertainty is it at its highest, it’s important to take a mental note every now and then and know that you are here and that you are ok. Tomorrow’s problems will come tomorrow. Let them come then, but for now, just be here.

A Few Sources

  • Headspace — Meditation App
  • Calm — Meditation App
  • Guided Meditation — sit in one place and tell yourself you are “breathing in life” as you inhale, and “breathing out life” as you exhale (my favorite for the beginner)

Calling loved ones — God rest of the souls of those lost and those battling the Coronavirus. My heart goes out to the families enduring losses and those watching their loved ones suffer. For me, the onset of losing others that I don’t even know has quickly reminded me of what’s important. Our bodies — no matter how well-manicured, our bank accounts — no matter how lavish, our homes — no matter how many or how well assembled, will perish without our consent — but the love of family and friends is more precious than anything material. The world is quieter for many of us. Take time and tell those that are close that you are sorry if there was an unsettling past, that you miss them, and will always love them.

I hope some of these tips help you with your time in quarantine. We will get through this together. Sending prayers to all affected and wishing good health for all the brave men and women in the public service sector during this troubling time.

With Love,

Anand Swamy

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