Lessons from Two Months of Social Distancing

Things I’ve learned during self-isolation during COVID-era

Happy May.

For many of us, it’s been more than a month of self-quarantine. It was a sudden shift to a lifestyle we have never experienced before. For me, my quarantine started at the beginning of March after returning from Asia. (It still blows my mind how I was out galavanting through South Korea and Japan so callously… times have changed.)

In this major lifestyle change, I’ve reflected on a few things of what has and hasn’t worked…

What hasn’t worked 🚫: Being connected 24/7
It seems like I am working even more around the clock all the time. The workday starts at 7:00 am for some of my colleagues and ends at midnight for others, creating a stream of messages coming in all day long.

What has worked ✅: Setting boundaries, especially when I don’t want to
In addition to my work, I am growing side businesses and projects. A truth I have come to understand is that the more time I spend doing just one thing takes away from my larger vision. I remind myself to step away and resume later when I have more time.

What hasn’t worked 🚫: Sleeping when my body felt tired
Due to a huge reduction in movement every single day (my step count barely hits 1000), my body is not as naturally tired as it was before. Combined with being on the computer all day and night, my circadian rhythm has been hijacked.

What has worked ✅: Forcing myself to sleep
After midnight, I try to force myself to bed and stay in bed until I fall asleep. While my monkey brain fights me, I find that I am much happier and at-ease the next day. This doesn’t work every single day and I am working to figure out how to get there.

What hasn’t worked 🚫: Trying to stay on top of the news every day
As a part of my regular research on the novel coronavirus and world events, I’ve found that trying to follow the news every minute of every day has not only been exhausting, but extremely stress-inducing. Not to mention that most of the news is repetitive.

What has worked ✅: Setting my daily news intake to 15–30 minutes each day
I’ve been getting most of my news through Reddit recently, including r/coronavirus. Day over day, not much has shifted in terms of world news, and unsubscribing from unnecessary email newsletters have dramatically helped this as well.

What hasn’t worked 🚫: Setting all of my goals on pause during this pandemic
In reality, this is going to go on for much longer than we expect. (I’m expecting until the end of this year with some degree of social isolation.) With that said, not having any goals for the year ends up wasting valuable time of our short lifetime.

What has worked ✅: Creating new goals based on current circumstances.
This moment is not meant to pause, but to shift focus onto other things. Adapting with the changing times. I spent the last few weeks reevaluating my life goals and prioritizing the ones that are in my control including personal growth (reading and writing), as well as deep introspection (meditating and time alone).

What hasn’t worked 🚫: Worrying about my employment every day.
Not only have I been asked to reduce my hourly rate as a freelance designer, but many other contractors have also already been let go. I don’t know whether I will have a job every single day.

What has worked ✅: Having more faith in myself.
As much as I can worry about events that haven’t yet transpired, all I can do is to focus on the present and prepare for the future as best as I can. Reminding myself that during times of distress, I have made some of the most important decisions of my life, including traveling the world and moving across the country. What will happen, will happen, and I have faith in myself to be able to get through it when the time comes.

Do you have any tips on what has and hasn’t worked for you?

I host a podcast called Yellow Glitter, mindfulness through the eyes and soul of a gay Asian. You can find it on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Stitcher, Overcast, and TuneIn.

Along with a bit of weekly mindfulness, I send out my favorite things I discover each week on my email newsletter at Mindful Moments.

Thanks for reading! Until next time.

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Instruction: Mix equal parts of life hacker, designer, developer and productivity nerd. Sprinkle a dash of coffee and cupcakes. Best served fresh.