I stayed in Mexico for quarantine. As this country has been my home for the past two and a half years, it made sense to ride out the chaos in my small apartment in Querétaro. While the coronavirus cases continue to rise here, we are very slowly starting to come out of lockdown. The challenge with quarantining in Mexico is that many (if not most) people live paycheck to paycheck. This country is made up of entrepreneurs—family members making their own product and often selling it on the streets or local markets. Circumstances have been comfortable for me as I was already working from home, and my industry was not as severely impacted as others. I can only imagine the suffering of those who have lost their jobs, family members, or friends. I heavily realize my privilege in the situation.
During the past three months, I decided I was going to come out of this period better than I was before. I consciously tried out different routines and habits I wanted to build upon, and ended up selecting a few things I want to commit to continuing way past these quarantine months. Aside from buying groceries online (talk about time and money saving!), here are five new aspects of life that I will stick to in the coming years:
Sticking to a morning routine.
I have read the books and listened to podcast episodes by successful people going on and on about morning routines. I watched countless YouTube videos with titles like “My Winter Morning Routine,” fascinated by this glittery concept of starting your days slowly and on your own terms.
I thought I had a morning routine. It consisted of a half hour to drink coffee and scroll social media before getting ready for work. There was the occasional reading and meditation. But this quarantine had me reaching for predictability. I played around with different morning routine activities until I found something that stuck: morning pages, affirmations, prayer, meditation. These four morning activities easily fit into a 60–90 minute time frame where I can feel like I own the unfolding of my days.
Respecting the flow of my own morning routine has not only given me a sense of control and clarity, but I actually feel like I am showing myself respect. I would never interfere with someone else’s time they have set aside to improve themselves or bring themselves some peace. Giving myself that same level of respect through a morning routine makes me feel so good and accomplished before my work day even begins, I cannot help but want to stretch this out for the rest of my life.
Respecting designated work spaces.
Quarantining with anybody will bring challenges. During this time, I truly learned how important it is to respect whatever area of the house others are choosing to work from, including myself. Whether the space is super clean, or disorganized, I have no business messing with whatever keeps people productive. Whatever corner of the house I choose to work from, I am committed to keeping that area exactly how I need it to be in order for it to fulfill its purpose well. Depending on the size of your place, one corner of your house may play multiple roles throughout the day. If your kitchen table has to also be your office desk, setting boundaries with yourself and those around you matters. Let others know what space in the house you will be working from and for how long. If other members of your household work from home, have them also tell you what “their office” is for the day. Establishing space boundaries early in the day will allow for a much more smoother flow to your working hours.
Choose your health over your indulgence.
It was so tempting to drink a bottle of wine a day. It was so tempting to order in french fries for every meal under the excuse that I was supporting local businesses. It was so tempting to rarely shower, and ditch any form of exercise. Two weeks into quarantine (after I was settling into some seriously unhealthy habits), I decided to completely cut out alcohol, coffee, takeout, and processed foods for a month. I moved my body for at least 30 minutes every day, and not only practiced hygiene, but developed a skincare routine and did my nails often. Trust me, I would love to hop on the train to fried-food land and 24-hour Happy Hour days without a dress code. But I had to realize that a robust health trumps any temporary indulgence. After my one-month healthy challenge I went back to enjoying takeout from local restaurants and kept enjoying wine, but it was no longer the way I was coping with crisis. I do not want to develop coping mechanisms that will ultimately be damaging to my well-being so I vow to consciously choose health over anything opposite.
Control what you say/do, not what others’ say/do.
This time at home was an excellent opportunity to go inward. There was so much input from the world. Turning on my phone felt like I was about to stand in the middle of city traffic: honking cars, loud conversations, pigeons pooping on you, smog, and glittering billboards blinding you. Some things were useful, educational, or inspiring. But it was inevitable to be exposed to offensive, unnecessary, and sometimes inaccurate posts or articles. Things got out of control and everybody and their mom had something to say about it. It was clearer than ever that I can only be in control of my own words and actions. I hope that I can always embody positive things that bring value, education, and inspiration to others. What others say and do is ultimately out of my control. Change starts with me.
Be absolutely present.
My overuse of social media during this quarantine meant I was barely present in my life anymore, and I did not even know it. The most life altering thing I did to get myself grounded in the present moment was to take a full week off from all social media platforms. It started out as a simple “I need a break” and turned into a “I never want to go back to how I was living my life.” I did not take a longer break because a large part of my job is on social media. But a week was enough to remind me what being present actually feels like. Working on social media does not mean we get to check out from our problems, relationships, and everything else in between. I was using a “This is for work” excuse to be more engaged with social platforms than my very real, more interesting now. I am obsessed with learning more about how to live in the present moment, and I want to deep dive into this topic, which means I will be spending the rest of the year diving into more books like The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
In some ways I yearn to “return to normal.” I want to laugh out loud in bars with close friends, and sneeze in line at the airport security without being seen as a threat. But I also want so much of life to be totally different, to be the best it has ever been. I am taking these parts of my quarantine experience with me.
Are there any aspects of your quarantine time you will be taking forward?
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Photo: Vanessa Lynn Uzcategui, Kyle Glenn via Unsplash, Agnieszka Boeske via Unsplash, madison lavern via Unsplash, Clem Onojeghuo via Unsplash, Zachary Keimig via Unsplash