The writing life is not exactly stress free. If you’re self-published, you have the endless hustling and all the cares of a solopreneur. If you’re trad published, you have the endless waiting, the rejections, and also the hustling. I used to be very anxiety-ridden all the time, and that took its toll.
The pandemic has distressed all of us–we’re not all equally affected, but we are definitely all affected, in different ways. Survival takes its toll, be it mental or physical, and I’m not immune to the shenanigans of 2020. I’ve decided though that letting it all get to me will help no one.
I’ve started off a few practices:
—Eat healthy, and light. Snacking too much to alleviate stress wasn’t helping. My butter addiction hasn’t gone away, I’ve just reduced the helpings!
—Spend time in nature whenever I can–I’m extremely privileged to live in a country where the Covid is so far in control, so we can visit parks. (Masks are mandatory here in Singapore, and that though it is very annoying to walk in hot humid weather wearing one–I see that it is necessary. On my walks, I’ve never met anyone without a mask–while it isolates all of us, it also makes me feel cared-for: I’m part of a community where people follow laws that have been created to protect the entire community.)
—Meditate whenever I can. I’ve realized I don’t have the mental bandwidth to take a few minutes off and don’t get anywhere when I do. I meditate on my walks instead, and meditate while doing chores. Thich Nhat Hanh’s books have been very helpful.
—Reading has been hard too, I can’t get myself to focus. So I’m going for light reads: thrillers, fantasy, and even a romance by Helen Hoang! Once in a while, I also doodle on an app and play with colours–very mindless and relaxing.
—My tiny garden has kept me sane–when the world is too much, sunlight and pottering about with plants helps.
—Of course, writing. I’m battling deadlines, but ahave taken up writing as relaxation as well–with no end in mind other than filling up a page. Very brief prompt-based sprints help with that.
—A complete social media break is impossible, but I try and switch off as much as possible. Not much news either, only as much as can trickle in via cursory glances at social media.
—Cooking and baking has been a chore, but on some days, when I let go a little, they relax me.
—Connecting with friends and family has helped–while I’m still not going out socially (am a hermit even during normal times), calls with friends have helped.
—Reaching out to others with help–whether it is a call to just listen, a little financial aid, or fundraising, helps me keep the focus away from myself.
So these are my ways to keep borderline-sane through all the madness–can’t do all of them everyday, but a combination keeps me going. I still spiral into gloom on some days, but I always manage to haul myself out. And I’ve decided to cut myself some slack–my word of the year was wuwei, and it has helped me not expect too much out of myself and surf over whatever comes my way.
How have you been doing amid the pandemic? What do you do to keep your sanity and well-being intact? What self-care do you recommend in these covid times?
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