I last wrote about being snowed in. I never would have expected my next post to be in the same vein of being trapped inside, let alone due to a killer virus! It is surreal to look back at how quickly coronavirus has spread, globally, and through the United States in particular.
As I write this, the state of Utah still has not put us in official lockdown. It is disappointing to see how much political boundaries have driven the coronavirus response in the U.S., but I am hopeful the situation will soon improve. My husband and I have been in self-quarantine for 24 days. I am one of those lucky people the news refers to as "immunocompromised," so when cases reached Utah we knew it would be safest for me to stay at home. I have a long, twisted medical history and have dealt with a weak immune system most of my life, but this is the first time I've had to quarantine like this. Luckily I am already an introverted homebody, so I've survived nearly a month at home and not lost my head yet!
We did drive out to the desert one day, knowing we would be far away from other people, and able to get some fresh air and let the dogs run. We took the new electric bike and cruised around, and I even snuck in some painting time.
Besides ensuring I have enough daily sunshine, the main way I've been dealing with quarantine is to keep things moving, both in my house, and with my mental focus. I try to work from a different room or chair each day and have been rearranging my furniture, just to try to change up my perspective. I keep my brain stimulated moving through tasks, from planning upcoming paintings, revamping my website, growing and transplanting my garden seedlings, and scanning in historic family documents. My family has huge bins of amazing memorabilia from my family, some of the early pioneers to come to Utah, and their ancestors in the Jersey Islands just off of France. It has been engrossing to read pioneer journals and hear descriptions of how my home valley used to be. I love history, and knowing this is my own family's history makes it that much more fascinating. Who knows, some of these stories & images may inspire future paintings!
I try to post to my Instagram daily, so check in there for more quarantine scenes.
I hope you are all keeping safe and well, and not neglecting your mental health during this stressful time. I am not the most skilled meditator and yoga is a struggle, but even small efforts in these areas are rewarding. I have been doing a lot of research on the current and far-reaching impacts of this outbreak to try to come to grips with this "new normal" and where we'll go from here. I thought I was alone in feeling completely wiped by late afternoon, but I learned that this constant, invisible dread is mentally exhausting to others as well (see this opinion piece in the NY Times).
It may seem strange to read unsolicited mental health advice on a random art blog, but these are unprecedented times and I believe discussions about mental health should be as commonplace and open as discussions about physical health. We can all play a role in destigmatizing mental health & this is an appropriate time to be talking about it. I am an avid reader and researcher, so if you're looking for other recommendations or links, don't hesitate to drop me a message and let me know! Please take care of yourselves, your loved ones, and try to find a healthy expressive outlet during this time. I am so thankful I have painting in my life, and have been encouraging my friends to find themselves a creative hobby to practice during quarantine. It makes a world of difference!
Other recommended reads on mental health in the age of coronavirus:
- NAMI's mental health coping strategies "Acknowledging, recognizing and acting on mental distress in these uncertain times is key to lessening the impact."
"Covid-19 hasn’t just disrupted how our lives work, it has disrupted how our minds work." -Top 10 mental health practices during social distancing "Most people are good, and people are going to persevere and help each other"