Here are this week’s Life Pro Tips.
1. If you have too much free time and not enough happiness right now, Yale has released its course ‘The Science of Well-Being’ online for free.
2. California law states that people must be able to cancel subscriptions online so simply download a VPN and set the location to a city in California to avoid having to call to cancel a subscription.
3. DON’T adopt an animal during this craziness because you’re lonely, alternatively: reach out to your local animal shelter and see if they need help being a temporary foster. A failed foster (pet is adopted) is better than a failed adoption.
4. If you’re playing a video game with someone who is entirely new to it, don’t just instruct them on how to play most efficiently, it turns their joy of discovery and fun into a job. If anything you should let them take the lead and answer questions when they have them.
5. Here is advice for extended time alone at home.
Work out every day: You go into this like a prison sentence thinking you’ll have a six-pack by the time they lift the quarantine, but the stress of your remote work, caring for others, etc don’t leave you the free time you thought it would. You are exhausted and stressed out. When you don’t get exercise, you stop being able to manage stress, you stop being able to sleep well, and there is nothing like insomnia to make you unravel. If you hate it, aim for 10 minutes. If you stop sleeping, know that exercise is the fastest way to reverse that.
Socialize as much as possible: Obviously from a safe distance or online, but it’s so easy to fall into a pattern of work and TV, binging news, and self-isolation. Sharing your experience with others, talk, and human contact is critical. If you live with someone, (and therefore not practicing social distancing) make sure to hug them as much as possible. If you live alone, hug yourself, give yourself little massages, take long baths. We are tactile creatures and a lack of human contact can cause depression, stress, and poor health overall. Lack of touch can also exacerbate anxiety disorders and various mood disorders.
Disconnect from the scary thing, and laugh as much as possible: So easy to while away your days on twitter and news feeds trying to keep track of what’s going on. Terrible for mental health. Check-in on that as needed, and then tear yourself away and feed your brain with books, and conversations with others, movies, and TV, online classes, etc. Take advantage of all the stuff that is being made freely available, learn a skill whatever. Most of all, laugh. Watch comedies, read funny books, appreciate the ironies of the situations you’ll inevitably encounter, write them down. Laughter releases endorphins, promoting well-being and relieving stress. Ideally, laugh with others.
Help someone: It makes you feel useful in a time when it’s hard to feel useful. It’s easy to question the point of your work when *that* is happening outside. Guaranteed there is someone nearby, literally and figuratively, who needs help. Put up a few signs offering to help those who need groceries or medicines, offer to walk dogs. Adopt a pet short term before the inevitable closure of shelters. Call family members, let stressed-out friends vent to you, be a safe space. If you have extra money, give it to someone who doesn’t. There are a million ways to help, and every one of them will make you and someone else feel better.
Check-in on your own mental health: It’s easy to think you’re fine, mental health issues often emerge like the boiling frog fable. Stop, take a minute and ask yourself how you’re doing. Ask for help when you need it, and know that lots of mental health support services are available online, including therapy over skype/zoom.