Appointments and meetings have been cancelled. Sports events have been cancelled. Vacations have been cancelled. Even going to church has been cancelled. The government tells us to stay at home to prevent the spread of the disease.
So now, we writers are stuck home with no place to go. What a great opportunity to write! Unlimited time, the type of thing writers dream for, is in our hands. So why am I not writing? Why am I doing other things around the house instead?
I’ve read enough blogs and posts to know I’m not the only writer with this problem now. Despite the lack of social interaction this isolation has caused, the overshadowing threat of the virus looms, perpetuated by the news media. Even if I don’t read or hear about the virus all day, just the knowledge that the threat hangs over us like a giant monster, waiting to consume us is enough of a distraction to stall my momentum.
Perusing social media, I’ve gathered a list of healthy ways other writers cope with this monster. Maybe you’ll see some you’d like to try as well.
- Pray – When life is out of our control, we go to someone who has more power than we do.
- Get comfortable – really? With enough jokes about wearing real pants, I think we’ve figured that one out.
- Give yourself grace – Don’t beat yourself up is you don’t feel like writing. Allow yourself to take a break without guilt.
- Grieve, then move on – have you had a good cry lately? We’ve lost a lot – freedom, maybe jobs, our ‘normal,’ not to mention human life. It’s best to let it out and stuff it in.
- Find a new hobby. Maybe it’s time for that, “One day when I have time, I’ll…”
- Studies show that laughter releases endorphins in your body that in turn, strengthen your immune system, elevate your mood, diminish pain, and protect you from the damaging effects of stress. Author Anne Mateer and her husband found that watching old comedy movies helped ease their anxiety.
- Music – Play music – rock, classical, jazz, easy-listening—try different types.
- Chocolate – good for any occasion, right?
- Limit your exposure to the news. Did you ever learn the children’s tune that says, “Be careful little ears what you hear, or be careful little ears what you see?” Too much exposure to negative input can feed depression.
- Let it go, anger, that is. You may be angry about what’s happening and looking for someone to blame. I’m appalled by all the self-appointed police who want to report everyone who’s not obeying the stay-at-home, stay-away mandate. Just as laughter is healthy for you. Anger is bad for you. Anger can cause headaches, digestion problems, such as abdominal pain, insomnia increased anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, skin problems, heart attack, and stroke.
- Play games. When was the last time you got those board games out? Instead of watching TV nonstop, do something with your hands and spend time with the others in your household.
- Put puzzles together. Not only do they engage the hands, they provide a level of satisfaction.
- Go for a walk. Put on your mask if you have to, but get some exercise outside and engage your whole body.
- Many writers have a hard time fitting in reading other writers’ work, but now might be the time. Not only does it help to support your fellow writer, you learn to appreciate other writing styles or genres.
- Sit in the sun. We know that sunlight increases the body’s production of vitamin D, but it also increases serotonin in the brain which also lifts your mood and reduces stress. Even five minutes in the sun can boost your spirits.
- Phone a friend or Face-time with them. Talking to someone else in the ‘same boat’ helps, since we’re not alone in this situation.
Have you tried any of these activities? Is there something that has helped you cope during this time? I’d love to hear about it.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:4-9