Quarantine: A Golden Opportunity For Self-Care14 Apr 2020
By now, we all know quarantine in the face of the global coronavirus pandemic is going to be a marathon, not a sprint.
Sustainable self-care takes a number of forms, and requires one to mindfully invest in choices which will harness the best possible outcomes for our overall wellbeing. Mindful choices arise from viewing our daily decisions as a self-investment, as opposed to succumbing to the urge of instant gratification. Just like anything in life – the attainment of good outcomes in this time will require intentionality and effort.
If we are able to do so, quarantine can become a wonderful opportunity to recalibrate our internal selves before we are lunged back into the material world.
Create some healthy space
In isolation, it’s necessary to intentionally create mind space within the physical space we find ourselves constrained in. The concept of retreat, solitude and isolation is commended in most world religions and spiritual practices. It’s the time the human being is able to introspect, slow down from the constraints of material life, and reconnect to the lost soul lying within. However, just because we are in isolation, doesn’t mean we will automatically connect to the purpose of solitude, nor reap its benefits. It’s easy to binge-watch Netflix, talk to all your family and friends, scroll through memes, social media and more social media… but in the long-term, the futile wasting of time will eat away at our souls, particularly as we stand in one of the most spiritually opportune times of the year.
Stillness is an active process, where one’s intentionality must be to utilise the silence in order to activate our higher selves and values. Islam encourages believers to take a moment of stillness every night, and to self-account on how the day went – were all spiritual duties accomplished? was the day fruitful? were sins committed? what went well? Carving out a space within the isolation to do some soul-work: reading the Quran, supplications, listen to something peaceful, meditation, reflection, and making this a daily part of our routine will aid in maintaining a sense of internal peace.
Forty days is also enlisted in traditions as the time to eliminate bad habits and cultivate new ones. There is also a tradition that states wisdom will flow from the tongue of one who dedicates themselves to God for this period of days. It might also be the perfect opportunity to recite a daily supplication for the period of forty days, and reap the benefits of doing so simply because we have the time. All in all, what matters most here is our intentionality.
Set a routine
This is a time of re-alignment, and a time to focus on what we can do, rather than what we cannot. Maintaining a commitment to seeing a fruitful purpose behind all the roadblocks which have been presented to our ordinary lives, is one of the ways in which we will best navigate through the disarray.
Prophet Muhammad would split his day into portions, owing due time and effort to that which mattered most – God, work, family, companions. All in all, what this highlights is the importance of self-discipline in routine. In isolation particularly, it’s easy to lose track of time. It’s easy to start seeing an abyss in the emptiness of our new found space. It’s easy to do the same thing, day in, day out. But what connects us to a sense of purpose is being active and mindful in how we choose to spend our moments in these days.
A walk in the morning, regular exercise at home, a healthy diet, reading a thought-provoking book, attaining different forms of knowledge, attending online classes, working on some projects, spending quality time with loved ones whether in person or via call – it all sounds cliché, until it’s those very things which can make your routine feel much more doable. It’s also these very things that we have to actively push ourselves to do, when the urge to do nothing lingers.
Acts of service
Service takes the form of serving God, and serving fellow humans. For a human to remain in balance, it’s important to do both. In a time like this, it’s beneficial to do what we can within our circumstances. Selflessly serving people in a time of disarray, is one of the best ways to cultivate positivity for ourselves as well as our respective communities.
Service can take so many shapes and forms, but the best form of service is identifying and utilising our individual strengths in order to help other people. Those strengths could be on a vast spectrum – it could be physically helping out within local vulnerable spaces, charity work, donating, writing, painting, sharing information, starting initiatives, checking in with loved ones. But the most important element of service is that even the smallest action, committed with a completely selfless intent, is valuable to our own souls above all. It doesn’t have to be a grandiose, flamboyant gesture.
Sincerity in our deeds is all that matters, and that element of selflessness in service has the power to rebalance our spiritual equilibriums.
Take care of your physical well-being
The dualistic belief of having a body and soul means both need to be taken care of. And just like we love to take care of those we love, it’s essential we also take care of ourselves. Physical well-being contributes to spiritual, emotional and mental wellbeing. And though it’s frustrating that every gym in the country has closed, there’s more to this element of self-care. Staying active – even if it means walking around a patch of grass, or following online fitness classes. Boosting your immunity – eating the right balance of foods, and taking necessary vitamins and supplements. A consistent routine and sleeping at appropriate times – ensuring the right amount of sleep, not too much and not too little (and resisting the urge to over sleep just because you can!) A healthy diet – resisting the urge to binge eat (again as a form of instant gratification), and being mindful of the fact that we are what we eat, and we will feel in line with what we feed ourselves.
Importantly, as the virus lingers, it’s important to identify when your body needs rest and when to take it easy. Physical rest is the most vital thing to combat the virus, as it inherently eats away at immunity. If you do start to feel unwell, ensuring your body has the physical rest to fight it will hopefully help to overcome it.
Stay mindful of your actions and words
Above all, it’s important to understand absolutely everybody will struggle in some shape or form in this time. Choosing to see our lives as a part of a far bigger picture, and acting with mindfulness, empathy, kindness and compassion for all, even when times get frustrating, is going to be one of the most honourable ways to make it through this time.
Make life easier for those around you. Don’t say hurtful words, or deliberately behave obnoxiously just because you can, or because you’re having an off day. Understand when to honour your sense of space. Know when it’s important to act and reach out to others. Being aware of our own thoughts and emotions, taking note of how we’re feeling and why that is, being aware of how others are doing, and acting with good intentionality and mindfulness will make this experience easier for us as well as those around us.
Let’s make this time an opportunity as opposed to perceiving it as a failure of life as it once was. A time to reconnect to ourselves, as opposed to disconnect. A time to recalibrate, as opposed to deplete. A time to heighten our spiritual senses, as opposed to drown in the noise of distractions. Though it’s easier to ignore all of the above, and choose moments of instant gratification to pass through the hours of the day – how we spend our time right now will one day be something we account for. And after all, Ramadhan is coming. This is the perfect time to prepare.