This last year has been challenging for everyone. We’re all in different circumstances, and some of us may be struggling more so than others. But one of the essential things to make life easier on all of us is finding ways to bring us joy. So, here are six ways I’ve brought a little joy into my life while quarantining.
- Get Rest
One of the primary lessons I’ve learned throughout this has been the necessity of getting appropriate rest and establishing a sleep schedule. Although I take medications to help me sleep, taking them at the correct time is key to getting a night of restful sleep. Whether you take medication, melatonin, or nothing at all, setting an alarm to go to bed helps you get rest. Without it, I could easily stay up until 2am and my sleep would be horrible. However, going to bed at the same time every night helps to establish a regular sleep rhythm and makes for a more productive day—productivity and being well-rested help to be on the road to finding joy through these challenging times.
We have been harped on about using a planner since high school. But using a planner or calendar to organize your life helps in seeing the bigger picture of your life and the narrow scope of your daily life in knowing what you need to get done. It helps to know when you have time to take breaks, exercise, take up a hobby, and see friends or family (if you are able). Finding time for the small things eases our search for joy.
- Take Breaks
With being so productive and having a plan, you can also burn yourself out or feel overwhelmed with work. So it’s essential to take breaks. Whether you set aside a whole day or take breaks throughout the day, stepping away from the computer or work is vital for mental health. My breaks usually involve stretching, playing with my cats, watching Tik Toks, and listening to audiobooks. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s something you enjoy and isn’t too mentally demanding.
Being stuck inside so much, we may be forgetting a critical staple that brings us joy: exercise. Now, I’ve had times in my life where I’ve been an absolute gym rat, with daily workouts that last up to 3 hours, leaving drenched in sweat. But with a pandemic, we can be severely limited in gym access or in a situation where exposure is frightening. Finding ways to exercise is more important than ever. Most people turn to a hike with our lovely weather, but I actually really dislike hiking in the desert. Personally, I love cycling; the bike was my favorite when I would go to the gym. So now I cycle weekly. However, that wasn’t enough for me, so I’ve taken up pilates. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s a workout that you enjoy doing and makes you feel good in your body.
- Have a Hobby
Without some sort of hobby or a creative outlet, our lives can seem bleak and boring. So find your hobby! Mine is knitting. I learned to knit 8 years ago and kind of let it go for a while, but with quarantine, I found I had so much time on my hands with nothing to do. Seeing a community of creative knitters and crocheters on Tik Tok reminded me of how much love I had for the activity and how much joy I found in it. I began knitting gifts for the holidays, which helped me create something tangible while also showing my appreciation and love for others.
- Do a Spring Cleaning
Being stuck in the same environment for almost a year may have you feeling claustrophobic, cluttered, and stifled. One way to find some joy may be to do a Spring Cleaning of your space a la “KonMarie.” Finding and keeping only the things that bring you joy can refresh your mind and environment and be an act of self-care. Opening up your space by removing the items that hold no purpose or meaning can reinvigorate you and help you breathe a little easier. Start small with your junk drawer or closet, and work your way up to the sentimental items. Whatever helps to bring you joy is the most important thing.
In a time when we are limited in the things we can do that bring joy into our lives, it’s essential we find and make ways to bring us joy. It does take work and a concerted effort, but ultimately, it pays off. At the start of quarantine, I was severely depressed, having been isolated from my friends and usual coping mechanisms. But, here we are, almost a year later and I used these six ways to bring joy back into my life. And, I’m feeling better than I have in the past two years!