It’s been almost a week since Metro Manila went on “enhanced community quarantine” due to the COVID-19 virus, but some of us (myself included) have actually been on self-quarantine for a bit longer than that.

Working from and just being home 24 hours a day poses a challenge for anyone–but most especially for extroverts and people like me, who need their daily dose of sunlight and fresh(ish) air.

How do you stay mindful and present at an anxiety- and panic-inducing time like this? Here are some quick tips and online resources:

1. Start your day with a few minutes of quiet presence and positivity. 

Resist the urge to check your phone and social media feeds the minute you wake up (you’ll have plenty of time for that later), and instead, spend the first few minutes of your day just tuning in to yourself and your body, and being grateful for the new day you’ve been given.

Ever since the lockdown, I’ve been able to start the day with these guided meditations on Spotify, and I especially like the ones on Energy Conversation, Simple Silence, or Faith. Take your pick among these guided meditation tracks and make them a part of daily routine.

2. Gift your body with exercise.

Now more than ever, your body will need some form of exercise in order to boost your immune system and stay healthy. Instead of thinking of it as a chore, think of it as a self-care gift and as a date with yourself. This is the time to check in with yourself, see how you’re feeling and responding to movement, and pay attention to a body that’s been mostly neglected all this time.

My go-to home workout is this 15-minute Ashtanga yoga practice (below), which I use to start my workdays. It gives the body a good stretch and generates the heat my body needs to jumpstart my day.

For weekends, I use this 45-to-60-minute modified half-primary practice. Of course, you may choose whichever home workout you prefer. But do get that home workout in; your body will thank you for it!

3. Mind what you eat. 

It will be so tempting to eat just anything while on lockdown–especially if you’ve stocked up on all sorts of instant food. My challenge to everyone, including myself: eat at your healthiest this time around, and maintain or even strengthen any dietary regimens you’ve put yourself on. Why? Your body needs to be at its healthiest now, so loading it up with junk food, sodium, and preservatives will do you more harm than good.

For instance, I’ve been on intermittent fasting since the beginning of the year, and I’ve also been on low-to-no carb food and mostly seafood and vegetables on weekdays. Also, I’ve committed to cutting out any form of sugar (or even my favorite 77%+ dark chocolate or hot cocoa) for all 40 days of Lent. The struggle is so real now that I’m just working from home, but by committing to this regimen + working out regularly, I’ve already lost some weight. I’m even challenging myself to trim up and get even fitter during this lockdown period. (Who’s with me?)

Also, please buy only what your family needs, and resist the urge to panic-buy or hoard. Remember: your family is not the only one on this planet, and we all need to balance our needs with those of others in order to manage this crisis in a sustainable manner.

4. Mind what you consume online. 

Not everything that you will read online is true–or healthy. At a certain point, you would have already gotten all the facts you need to deal with the virus, and you will need to practice “social media distancing” to avoid getting drowned by the deluge of COVID-19-related content.

View and share ONLY verified, accurate sources of COVID-19 information. Here are some examples:

If you’re unsure of whether or not the information you got was verified, please check with a trusted source and do not share it unless verified.

5. Assign–and respect–a quiet “comfort space” for each member of the family. 

No matter how much you love your family and other members of your household, the lockdown will test nerves and patience at some point. Some family members will need to work from home for long periods; others will feel restless because of not being in school or at play; others might feel the need for alone time without everyone else poking into their business.

Regardless of the size of your living space, try to assign each family member their own quiet space–and respect that space when they are there. Just because they are physically present doesn’t mean they are ready for conversation. (I’m an extrovert, but that’s me when I’m writing or reading.) Mindfulness also means being aware of others and their needs, and it’s important to remember this especially now that people are forced to stay at home for long periods.

6.  Stay connected with the people and communities who matter to you.

Now more than ever, the sense of community will continue to be important for everyone. Take some time to reconnect with family and friends, especially the sick and the elderly, through regular audio or video group calls. Check in regularly with colleagues, especially those who are living on their own or those who might need an ear during this time. Be ready to lend emotional support to anyone who needs it, as different people will encounter different challenges during this time. (You can still be present for someone, even just virtually.)

Equally important: consider donating to organizations that are now mobilizing to support frontliners and lower-income communities who will be severely impacted by this crisis. Use the money that you’re saving by not going out of the house, to support those who can save everybody’s lives. Here’s an example of a cause you can donate to, for the benefit of frontline health workers.

7. Clock out and tune out.

“It seems like we’re working longer hours,” was our work team’s common observation during our first purely work-from-home week. Because all of us are working from home and not having to deal with traffic, we’re actually online longer–sometimes well into the night and on weekends.

While this may feel like a boost to team productivity, it isn’t sustainable and healthy. Take it from workaholic me: you need to conserve your energy because this lockdown is a marathon, not a sprint. That said, Please clock out at a decent time; preserve your evenings and your weekends for yourself and your family, and know that work will still be there tomorrow. There is still much of life to be lived in the offline world.

* * *

Much more can be said about this lockdown, but let us also remember this: those of us who are able to work and live comfortably at home during this time are lucky. Not everyone has jobs that can be done remotely; and some people may lose their only lifelines by staying at home. We need to be mindful that, while some of us are actually enjoying this period, millions more are struggling and are in danger of starving. There are also frontline healthline workers who are risking their own safety in exchange for ours.

So, the most mindful things to do? Heed government warnings to stay home and practice social distancing. Be extra-hygienic around the house. Most important: remember that we’re all in this together, and that our individual actions now will determine our collective outcomes in the long run.

Stay healthy, mindful, and sane, Manila! See you online!

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