April and May were uneventful months. Because of the increased restrictions and risks of COVID-19, I managed to stay at home most of the time. I went out just a few times to destress at the mall or buy the things that I need. Although it was plainly a routine for me doing my work, home, and church duties, I purposely utilized this time to reflect, internalize, and collect my learnings.
So instead of you providing you with the updates or highlights during the past two months, I thought of sharing you the things that kept me afloat at this time of crisis. It’s been a year now since my life changed. I never thought I could I embrace such drastic changes and adjust my lifestyle, but I just keep swimming against the tides to sustain normalcy.
It may seem no small feat for many of us right now as we brave the financial, emotional and psychological challenges of this pandemic. Hence, it is really inevitable that this crisis has created a dent to our well-being that we have resorted to different ways to cope. I myself, have experienced that so I’d like to share to you how I managed through. Here are the top things that kept me sane during the pandemic — those that diverted my attention, reminded me of my purpose, and basically helped me strike the balance in between everything.
Daily Quiet Time
I don’t want to sound too religious or idealistic, but prayer and reading God’s words are two of my weapons before I start my day. Everyday in the world is like going to the battlefield. If you are in the war unarmored and unprepared, the enemy will beat you and crush you into pieces. The enemy will remind you of negative thoughts and will inject unpleasant emotions into your system as you react to the circumstances around you.
Praying about your concerns in life is an acknowledgement of God’s power to take control of the things you can’t. Reading God’s word on the other hand, is His way of communicating His promises and assurances that He can help us overcome these challenges. I talk to God about my uncertainties of the future and the present; I talk to Him about the heartaches I never tell anyone, those dreams that I have in my heart that I’d rather share to a partner; the visions I have for my family and career, and other requests that concern my church, family, and friends.
I read a chapter or two a day, reflect for it for about an hour, and write them in my journal so that I will remember it. He has commanded us to mediate on His word day and night. My favorite books are Proverbs, Psalms, and the letters of Paul in the New Testament. I noticed that I become more calm when responding to situations at work or at home. I gain wisdom as I apply those verses in my life. I regain my confidence when dealing with my problems or issues, knowing that these are all temporary and are designed to shape my character in the long run.
I’ve said this countless times in my blog that cooking is my therapeutic outlet. It may seem tedious or difficult for some, but it can also be relaxing in many ways. It’s my platform for expressing myself creatively in the kitchen. As someone who loves food, it’s rewarding to be able to execute those dishes you’ve been craving in your own artistic version. It makes me forget my stress sometimes.
Lately, I’ve been hooked to studying European and Asian cuisines as they can be challenging or intimidating to recreate but they can be flexible in terms of food presentations and tastes. My latest achievements are Pad Thai and Beef Gyudon. I also enjoy watching videos that suggest cheap meal recipes for the practical saver like me.
I bought a new journal last March where I write my daily, weekly, and monthly goals. It also helps me track my budget and monitor my expenses. I also write here my prayer requests, answered prayers, blessings, ideas for blog contents, things I want to buy or dream of having, etc. Journal writing is an effective way of keeping yourself aware of the things you want to achieve either by short term or long term. Writing random, small things that matter to you is the basic way to setting goals for yourself which will eventually help you to attain the bigger ones next time.
Lately, I enjoy purchasing different pens, stationeries, or highlighters for my journal. I’m going back to the basics to support my passion for writing. I am not intense on adapting the “Bullet Journaling” where you follow themes or designs for your journal, but I just write what I think are essential to remind me of my goals.
From time to time, I also write poetry and blog articles.
Music is the language of the human soul. I love listening to music while I work or write an article to give me that extra fuel or inspiration. I usually avoid listening to sad songs as these ignite emotions and I don’t want to dwell on that. I go for instrumental music like violin, piano, or sax in Spotify. I love listening to Jazz too. I like listening to Christian artists with inspirational and motivational messages in their songs. My playlist depends on the mood for the day, but I am more inclined to listening to relaxing music.
This pandemic has exposed us to different stressors so we need to take care of ourselves. I don’t splurge anymore on shoes, clothes, bags, or make-up, but I spend on skin care whenever I have the extra budget. We are not getting any younger so it’s also good to invest on skin care products that help us slow down aging. I’ve been in and out of this trial process as some products worked for me; some didn’t. Some aggravated my acne, some healed it. But at least, we do something to improve our physical stature and it’s not vanity at all.
I can’t remember the last time I went out of town to travel. If you know me well or read my previous posts, I travelled frequently before the lockdown. But my priorities have changed that even when tourism gradually opened, I would have to think twice about the expenses and health risks to skip the idea of travelling. I mean, I would love to, but I survived a year not seeing the beach or the mountain and I was still perfectly fine.
In replacement of travelling, I enjoyed long walks at the park during sunset. I found simple happiness in hanging out with my dogs even in BGC open spaces or parks. I get excited even at the idea of going to SM Aura to buy my vanity stuff then treat myself to a restaurant or my favorite milk tea. I loved visiting Fully Booked in High Street, or Look or Watsons in SM Aura. I converted my travel luxury to simple trips at the mall or parks that still refreshed my spirit from time to time.
Communicating with Friends
I’m thankful that during the pandemic, all modes of communication were activated through technology. I checked on my friends often and invite them sometimes to go on video calls. It’s really different to talk to your girl friends and unload them your problems. Conversations would range from serious to light, to Biblical and practical, to laughter then tears. At the end of the day, I feel much better when I share to them what’s going on in my heart and in my mind. Of course, I only have this selected circle of close friends whom I trust.
Identifying your support group and reaching out to them is definitely an effective stress-buster this pandemic.
Ironically, they are both my stressors and delighters. I get stressed whenever I had to attend to their needs while I work at home, but the same time, they also pave away my exhaustion. Just a simple hug from them is all that I need after a tiring day at work. They can be so dependent, messy, and playful, yet they love you unconditionally.
This pandemic has taught me life-changing, valuable realizations. You don’t need much, just stick to what is important. The value of relationships is indispensable. It’s okay to get tired once in a while and take a pause and rest. It’s perfectly okay to seek help from others and to admit that you are not strong or capable all the time. Time is fleeting. You’d be tossed constantly in the midst of huge ways, but remember to stay calm. Go back to your purpose when you are feeling low and demotivated.
Our diversions may vary from people, objects, hobbies, or situations, but none of them would compare to the comfort and refuge we can find in God alone.