The past couple of weeks have been stressful in the way life typically goes. The added stress of living in a world with COVID-19 definitely doesn’t help. Recently, I’ve started being bombarded by thoughts of meeting so much resistance and limitations due to different rules which have to be followed for safety reasons. I’m not going to sugarcoat it to say that I am so bummed, and I know so many others of you are, too. But I know that we are all trying to get by.
Yet, despite the nature of time feeling like it zooms past me everyday, I do acknowledge the little wins that take me by surprise. For one, I passed my road test just a week ago! It already feels longer than a week because it’s helped me so much – like a chip off my shoulder and I can finally move past some of the resistances that’s been plaguing my thoughts. And it’s these achievements that seem small, but so profound, that’s been helping me feel less doomed.
And I’m going to share something. While I’m writing this blog post, I’m actually at Haleiwa Beach Park. I’m parked and set-up a tiny typing space in my car and just bought a Stay Classy Smoothie (strawberry + banana) from the Coffee Gallery from the North Shore Marketplace.
I’m sharing this because it’s testament to the message of this post. Prioritize you. Do things that make your soul ignite with happiness, even in dark times. It is so possible even when on some days it’s more difficult.
Since March, when the first stay-at-home order was initiated in Hawaii, I’ve been very blessed to have family, friends, and in general, kind people who care about my well being. I’ve leaned onto them for support to keep me sane. This post will be a mix of self-care practices I’ve adapted since then that involves others and some that I found worked even on my own. I hope this read uplifts you in some way, I hope it reminds you that you have the power to take control of your life. That yes, we live in a world with COVID-19, but it’s still our world, too.
Movie Days with Friends
There is a safe way to have movie days/nights or whatever you prefer to call it with your friends. There’s a Google Chrome extension called Teleparty (used to be called Netflix Party) and it allows a group of people to watch movies and shows on Netflix and connect via a group chat box. Once it’s installed on Google Chrome, the host would start a movie on Netflix then click the Teleparty icon to generate a link that could be shared to participants. Participants would follow the link and click the icon on their end to be entered in the session.
My friends from California and New Jersey have been doing this on Saturdays for quite awhile. From it, I’ve seen movies I wouldn’t have chosen to watch on my own. One of the most memorable of them is All the Bright Places starring Elle Fanning and Justice Smith. Just a word of warning, this movie broke my heart so if you decide to watch it, have some tissues ready. Using Teleparty is not the same as watching movies with people who are physically there, but the real-time reactions on the chat box like “omg” or “what just happened” simulates that experience at some level.
You can take or leave what’s in this section, I respect your beliefs. Personally, exploring spirituality has helped me cope during these times when prevalence of alone-ness is at peak. I’ve never had to sit so still in so many occasions with my thoughts. You know the saying, “silence can be the loudest”?
Throughout this experience, I’ve questioned a lot about life, myself, my life, and everything. I started praying – even doing the 28-Day Prayer Journey challenge that I still have yet to finish. But I also started connecting and exploring spirituality in a way of being conscious of my higher self and spirit guides who I believe exist. I know, it sounds so mystical, but spirit guides can be loved ones who have passed, guardian angels, deities, etc. One of the ways I enhanced my spiritual journey is through Tarot and Oracle decks. For me, the messages I take from these media resonate with what serves me. I do take care to set intentions and boundaries when I seek guidance – I also don’t take the messages as things set in stone because I believe in free will.
Besides spiritual exploration through messages, an interest for crystals also ignited within me. There’s a shop my sister and I found in Haleiwa called Lemuria. That’s where I go now for all things crystals. The first crystals I bought were Aquamarine and Turquoise. Aquamarine is my birthstone and it’s in a form of a bracelet that I usually wear when I’m writing as it helps with clear communication. Turquoise is a protective stone for travelers, so I leave that stone in my car.
Usually, I search the healing properties of the crystal before I confirm my need to purchase them, they are fairly affordable while some get expensive. Today, I just stopped by the store to purchase Obsidian arrowheads – I bought it to deflect negative energy, thoughts, promote creativity, and protection. It was mentioned to me by a Twitter follower and that it could be good to keep around me at this time for the reasons I listed above.
There’s actually a cute story that happened at Lemuria’s store. One evening, my sister and I decided to drive to Haleiwa after work to unwind. We ended up checking out crystals and found that the store was closed. The people (manager/owner?) were so kind and let us look around as they cleaned up and set-up an event. It turns out they were doing a sound therapy session using singing bowls made of crystals! My sister and I ended up joining them, for the price of $22.22, we laid on blankets (while social distancing with our masks on) on the floor while lights were shut and meditated with the group. That evening was so unpredictable but definitely something that I needed during that time. It helped calm my anxiety so much that I went home feeling energized.
I think this one is fairly predictable of me, it has to be here. Journaling or writing down my thoughts has been helping me even before the pandemic. But it especially helped me now as I tried to deal and understand where my thought-patterns were originating from. A month and a half ago, I bought a notebook that had the saying “We Are All Made of Stardust.” I absolutely love this quote, it’s loosely based off of Carl Sagan’s statement that we are all made of “star stuff.” And it’s so true, we are made of stars, and we are all so interconnected.
Anyway, this notebook has seen things. I am more than half-way through it, storing most of my questionings, dreams (both conscious and subconscious), reflections, and everything. You know what I titled it? “The Study of Jessica.” Because it’s true, this point of my life has been dedicated in studying myself so that I could be a better human for this world. It’s been difficult having to face the darkest parts of my life and asking it like a toddler, “why?,” “why did you happen and why does it affect me now?”
Why? Why? Why?
And it seems daunting, but I’ve benefited from it more than it’s pained me to write about it. Writing has helped me slow down. I’m usually very impulsive, I do first then ask later. Sometimes that’s good, but if I were to really want to be conscious and intentional about who I am and who I have yet to be, I knew I needed to take things more seriously and this is one of those ways.
To practice for the road test, my sister kindly took me out driving to Kaneohe where I got familiar with the route and be comfortable driving on the freeway. We would spend an hour or two just practicing different routes while we gape at the beautiful mountain-ranges of Windward Oahu. Driving always work when I need to be in the present – before, I had to ask a licensed driver to accompany me but since I received my license it’s a whole better story. In the past week, I was able to explore and revel in ways I could increase this opportunity.
Now that restaurants have opened dine-ins in Hawaii, I plan to dine by myself and write about that experience. As small as this achievement was, it really made me feel liberated and excited for what adventures I would get to do on my own. And I know I say “on my own” a lot, I really do want to get to know this part of myself. I’m grateful for that chance.
Okay, this has been a good list of self-care practices that’s worked for me. I would like to add that I do attend sessions with a professional therapist who has helped keep things in perspective. Professional opinion has always helped me figure out which coping skills work and which I could improve on. I am in no way an expert on Psychology – this list is only to share what has worked for me personally. Any information on this post should not be taken as expert advice. Please reach out to loved ones and seek professional help if you need to.
I have more to share which I may compile as a part two post.
Do you have any self-care practices that worked for you during the pandemic?
Thank you for reading!