I haven’t been myself for the past couple of weeks. Come to think of it; I haven’t been myself since last year.
There is this constant lingering…weight that I struggle to describe. It’s an ever-present heavy feeling on the mind, body, and heart, temporarily dulled by conversations from friends and family or the occasional trips to the outside world. But the heaviness returns once these fleeting moments are gone.
It has affected my personal life. I’ve slacked off work, more out of self-preservation than anything. My attempts at creativity are similar to repeatedly slamming myself against a concrete wall: futile and dumb. Getting up in the morning is a chore, like I’m welded to the mattress as the water rises in my room, threatening to drown me.
I’ve tried to address this heaviness multiple times. I stayed off social media for as long as my work allows me. I’ve tried meditating and binge-watching Netflix. I’ve taken days off where I absolutely do nothing, thinking that absence is what my mind needs.
Still, none of it worked. Absence only creates more random thoughts, I find. Given my state, most were not too pleasant.
But I did discover something that gave me a chance. Not a cure, but a temporary reprieve. It was a quote, (allegedly) by Jim Carrey, which goes:
‘I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.’
This mindset was different, as it basically asks me to move. Do something, anything other than wallowing in the pool of your own grief.
Moving gave me a sense of relief. At first, I admit, it doesn’t make sense. We’re already stressed from our schedules as it is. Now, we’re adding exercising, cooking, and other activities to the list? After all, often our definition of relaxation is lying on the beach, a cocktail in one hand, without a worry in the world.
But in a time where we’ve been forced to be confined in the four walls of our homes, we’ve had enough of stagnation. Of the mundane. As The New York Times puts it, what we need right now is Flow: manageable projects that can give us those small wins.
Exercise – but make it fun
Let’s be real: If you’ve spent much of quarantine as a stagnant bag of flesh, you’re not going to be doing burpees or sit-ups for breakfast.
Instead of torturing yourself to be the next Chris Hemsworth, keep your workouts fun. If you’re too shy, dance in the privacy of your room. Hell, there’s even one that uses Tiktok moves in the routine.
Don’t worry about getting jacked or sculpting your abs. Those will come eventually. What matters is you get one foot in the door.
Cook – but make it simple
Again, no need to be the next Erwan Heussaff (although that wouldn’t be a bad goal. I mean, have you SEEN the guy?)
Start with something simple. I’ve never touched a cooking pan until this year, and it took me around 25 mins to make the Garlic Mushroom Chicken Thighs you see below (recipe here). If you’re feeling fancy, it even takes less to make a steak.
Better yet, challenge yourself to create your meals for the week. That’s what your fridge is for. Not only is cooking healthier and cheaper, but it gives you a sense of pride.
Seriously, do anything
If you live alone like me, chances are that you will be at the mercy of your own thoughts for 95% of your waking moments.
But on the other hand, for the first time in our 20+ years of existence, we have an overabundance of time. And while this could lead to feelings of negativity (it still does for me, tbh), this also means we have ample opportunities to give ourselves a fighting chance.
We just have to move and grab them.