The past couple of weeks have been especially difficult, for myself and for those in our community who have been here before. The principles of self-quarantine and social distancing due to COVID-19 mimic the protocols of chemotherapy treatment. The result is extreme isolation. Staying indoors no matter what, to avoid risk of infection and sickness during treatment. Avoiding restaurants and public transportation, avoiding anything beyond momentary sun exposure to avoid burning, and even avoiding raw foods like uncooked fruits and vegetables. To name a few. While social distancing can mimic treatment protocol, it can also bring up triggers of the treatment itself, such as hair loss, body changes, questioning identity and purpose, and loneliness. These habits become second nature for many survivors, and finding the way to a “new normal” post-treatment can take months if not years.
Last week mimicked a chemo week (or treatment week) for me to the T. I bundled up in a matching face mask, head wrap, gloves combo (of course) and took the subway to my infusion center on Wednesday to receive a regular injection that keeps my hormones in check in long term. The injection (like the chemo) always causes a major “down” in my state of mind. On my way back home from the infusion center, my mom and I started to have conversations about how I should no longer go outside or pursue any kind of social activities. I postponed the StyleEsteem photo shoot that was supposed to take place this past weekend for our upcoming Spring Summer 2020 Collection.
I then found myself in a downward spiral. On some level, the isolation that had set in was worse than during chemo, because there is no feasible end point. And this time feels like the reopening of a wound that felt like it was healing nicely. I then started to think back and really think about how I got through that period of four months in 2018 when I received chemotherapy. How did I keep my sanity and make the most of every day during treatment? How did I maintain lightness in my day-to-day and keep my body and mindset positive? I want to share the ideas I leaned on with you, because I find myself needing to lean on them again now, and I’m sure you may need this as well.
1. Rediscover Your View
Whether you are in an urban jungle or a secluded vista, learn to discover newness and beauty in the familiar views around you. Get lost in the details that make where you are so special. Perhaps it’s the color created by the sun glistening off the glass of a skyscraper at a particular time of day. Or perhaps that gentle breeze has the soundtrack of distant wind chimes you never noticed before. There is always something new and beautiful around you waiting to be discovered, even if from the window of your home. Dabble in this mindful meditation technique and rediscover your surroundings.
2. Stay Active
This is a great time to find new elements in your fitness journey or to lay the habits for fitness that you can grow into the future. Change into an outfit that activates a fitness mindset, and practice some light stretching or yoga poses. If you are feeling up for a challenge, I love trying out 10 minute workout videos on YouTube targeting specific areas of the body. If I am feeling particularly energetic, I may do a couple of videos back to back in my living room. Adding this to your routine will help revitalize your mindset and keep you positive as you care for your health.
3. Create Something
Reignite your idle energy by channeling yourself into creating something. Sit down with a cup of tea and sketch pad and let your creativity run through the pages. Find items around the house to repurpose. Or mind map a book, business or philanthropic idea that has been on your mind. Turning to creative inspiration during times of solitude is the story of how StyleEsteem was born. When you follow your creative instincts, you might come up with something that surprises you.
4. Turn It Into A Dance Party
Whether you are folding clothes, washing dishes, or taking a shower, put on some tunes and let the music flow you through your tasks. Music is a powerful tool for coping and is scientifically known to have many positive effects on the brain including pain reduction, stress relief and memory improvement. Some of my personal favorites for a jam session are: JLo, Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, and anything 80's.
5. Glamify Your At Home Look (And Make Plans)
Perking your look up with a fancy pair of PJ’s or experimenting with bold makeup that you usually shy away from, can add a little flare to the day to day experiences at home. Feel free to pull out those items you bought but never wore, and make mental notes about what plans you’ll make in the future to wear those outfits outside. Dressing up will also help you keep a normal routine, and feel confident and polished at home. One can never have too much StyleEsteem.
6. Immunity Boosting Teas
Peak into your pantry to create simple teas that are known for their anti-inflammatory and health boosting properties. Below are some of my favorite recipes, but feel free to experiment with what’s in your kitchen to come up with your own special combinations. Once you've crafted your tea, pick a different spot in your home to sit and focus in on each of the flavors in your cup as you enjoy sip by sip.
7. Connect With Friends
Take the time to schedule phone or video chat dates with loved ones. Set up a date for dinner time and have a meal together via video chat. Or hop on the phone and watch an episode of your favorite show together and share your reactions. Finding creative ways to connect will help you maintain a sense of community and support during this time.
8. Sit In Gratitude
According to Harvard University, practicing gratitude can make you happier because it helps shift the focus from what you don’t have, to appreciating what you do have. A few ways you can practice gratitude are:
Write a thank-you note, to yourself or a loved one.
Thank someone mentally, yourself or a loved one.
Keep a gratitude journal and write in it regularly. You can also share your writings with a loved one and they can exchange their own feelings of gratitude with you too.
Meditate on your blessings, by reflecting on what you are grateful for and how those blessings make you feel.
I hope these tips help you meet the coming days with a positive and abundant mindset. I would love to hear any tips that you have to share with our community as well. Please do let us know any ideas you have in the comments!
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