This may sound a little dramatic but I think I’m part of the 1% of people in the world who honestly enjoyed being at home for self-isolation purposes around March this year. If you, like me, welcomed the thought of being a permanent homebody with ‘Netflix & Chill’ for days on end, then you and I are on the same page!
At an earlier point in my life, I would have considered myself an extrovert. I was the girl in school who played first team hockey, sang soprano in the choir, and walked away with “Best Actress” awards for a number of plays. Then, somewhere in the midst of my university career, I realised how lovely it was to just spend time with myself and get comfortable with my own company. This has been an ongoing process for years now, so when our South African government announced that we would be going into a nationwide lockdown around March (to help flatten the COVID-19 curve), I was genuinely happy to have the apartment I share to myself.
But as time (and I mean months) went on, I realised that self isolation was teaching me so much more about myself, particularly around improving myself. So in this post, I wanted to share with you some of those learnings, and how staying indoors turned out to be a beneficial growth experience.
Time Well Spent
We all have the same 24 hours, although some would debate this infamous saying, but what we can all agree on is that we all have time.
With the sudden restrictions on life as I knew it, I thought that this meant that I had a few more minutes to spare in my daily routine. I could wake up a little later because I don’t need to catch a bus to work because I’ve got to work from home now. I don’t have to spend time commuting to places so maybe I can finally start doing yoga again. Maybe ordering my groceries online works out better than physically being in store…
These were some of the things that made me realise how I have all of this extra time on my hands to focus my energy on doing something else – something productive or upskilling for me. I will admit, I definitely went into a frenzy of registering for a bunch of online courses, buying a plant to help me develop my green thumb, and downloading the 21 Day Challenge mobile app to help me meet new goals. This frenzy lasted for about 5 weeks…
As much as my little frenzy didn’t last too long, what it did do for me was help me reevaluate how I spend my time, and how I could really put it to better use to make it work for me instead of the other way around.
Rather than sign up for a bunch of online courses to keep me busy with the extra minutes I now had, I focused on picking 3 course max, to ensure that I could be productive with these course. Because if I’m being honest, I really signed up for 10 courses just so that I could say “Yup, I did 10 courses during lockdown; what did you do?”. Don’t get me wrong – maybe doing 10 courses is completely doable for you, but it’s about doing 10 courses that you know will not only keep you productive but will actually be of benefit to your life. The last thing you want to do is waste your time completing a course that has no real impact in your life once it’s done.
So, spend your time wisely.
We don’t talk enough about how time is a real currency and you should invest it in doing things that will actually reap rewards for you. Whether it’s learning a new skill, finally finessing that roast chicken dish you’ve been wanting to master, or completing the book you bought a year ago, if being indoors for 6 months this year has taught me something, it is to spend my time wisely.
Self Care Should Go Beyond Sundays
This is something that I still am trying to get right, but having your self care days shouldn’t just be reserved for Sundays. Besides the catchy ‘#SelfcareSunday’ hashtag, giving myself the end of the week to look forward to treating myself doesn’t 100% sit with me because life is so unpredictable and I need those moments to treat myself smack bang in the middle of the week.
As I write this post, I’ve just booked myself a spa solo date for myself in the morning, with brunch and shopping in the afternoon. This is a treat that is not happening on a Sunday because I just couldn’t wait. And neither should you if you feel like you need that moment to yourself to rest, relax and recuperate.
Self care doesn’t necessarily need to be this grand act of love (although don’t be shy to show yourself grand act of affections because trust me, you deserve such spoils!). It could be as simple as taking the time to cook your favourite meal, or to take a long hot shower just to cry at how terrible your day was.
Remember, self care is about you and it’s important that you take those moments to give yourself hugs and love when you feel like you need it – midweek and all.
Incorporating this into my lifestyle was so empowering for me because it really was about acknowledging how important it is for me to give myself the kind of happiness and care I need to get me through the times when I need it. My family lives all the way in Port Elizabeth. My friends have lives too (and I’m high-key that person who just doesn’t want to bother people with whatever I’m going through), and the love of my life hasn’t arrived yet to shower me with cuddles and forehead kisses when I’m feeling low. So, it’s just me, and I knew that I needed to find a better way to take care of myself beyond the usual self car Sundays.
Being self isolated for so long also really helped me get in touch with myself and understand what are the things that make me feel cared for. Yes, the masks and facials and extra glass of wine I drink on Sundays are great, but self isolation helped me get back to caring for my body in a more healthy way.
Drink more water. Practice yoga. Meditate. Pray every morning. Dance to get your blood flowing.
These were just some random things I did as part of my self care routine to help me feel the love again in a time when being alone sucked at times.
Elevating My Mindset
I make an active and conscious choice, everyday, to be a good person and to start my day on a positive note. I really do believe that your attitude can determine your altitude, and that starting your day on the right foot means you’re bound to go places.
So when I found myself spending so much time indoors, it wasn’t always easy to remain as positive – especially when the world is facing a terrible pandemic. It’s difficult to find a slither of happiness when we were, quite literally, experiencing some kind of hell on earth.
Elevating my mindset during self isolation meant going beyond attracting just positivity; I encouraged my mind to attract peace too. Yoga and meditation played a huge role here because smiling with your mind and heart is one thing but I found myself yearning for peace during the uncertain times we are living in.
We’re still living in a time where the ‘new normal’ is being defined but there’s a point in my life that I’ve reached where I recognise how much self isolation and being indoors so much helped me appreciate and value having peace more.
Peace of mind. Feeling content. Simply being at peace with knowing there are things I cannot control that I should let go of and focus on what I can control. I had many ‘Ah-Ha’ moments during self isolation where I practiced more mindfulness and found it so beneficial for my entire state of mind and being. This is something I want to master eventually but for now, I’m grateful for this learning and the positive impact it’s had on my life so far.
Even though the end of 2020 is drawing closer and self isolating is still something we should try do, don’t beat yourself up for looking back at how the bulk of this year has been spent indoors and you feel like you haven’t done much.
A reminder: you survived a whole pandemic! But, this year isn’t over just yet and there is still some time for you to make whatever changes you need to make for your mind, body or soul to improve before the year ends. Go at your own pace with this; there really is no time stamp for when your self improvement journey is complete. Do it enjoy it, though, and watch yourself blossom.