“There’s no place like home.” That is, until you have to be at home with yourself for long periods of time. In some ways, I’ve been surprised by how much I’ve actually enjoyed this period of enforced isolation. In saying that, I know that I am fortunate. Many of us are safely getting a glimpse of what hell looks like from our social-media feeds, while others are truly living it.
But whether you’re isolating at home or out there everyday on the front lines, you may have noticed that you’re spending a lot more time “at home” in your own head recently. The mind never seems to shut off, and especially with the stress & uncertainty of these last few weeks, it might be even more impossible to escape the endless loop of thoughts swirling in your head. And sitting with yourself? It isn’t always easy, is it?
But there are ways we can find comfort in the moments we are alone, even if enjoying solitude doesn’t come naturally. We can find ways to get out of our heads and learn to *feel* more at home while staying home with our thoughts. These are tools at everyone’s disposal — should we choose to use them — and are proven to be very beneficial to maintaining a healthy state-of-mind:
- Journal. Spending 5-10 minutes every day writing freeform is one of the absolute best ways to get out of your head, taking the edge off & freeing up thinking space from negative emotions. Writing it out instead of typing it out is also a good idea. It really helps connect your soul to the writing that will flow out from your pen onto the page. If you’re serious about making this habit & routine in your daily life, then committing to a morning practice is ideal, when your mind is fresh and free of the complaints that may arise later in the day. Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages are a great guide to follow.
- Meditate. This is one of the absolute best things you can do for your mental health, reducing the stress & anxiety that keeps building in your head. It doesn’t have to be hours on end, and you don’t need a special room or chair or cushion. Just close your eyes for a few minutes each day and breathe. Nothing could be more simple. And there are so many guided-meditation apps that make this a no-brainer to add to your daily schedule: Headspace, Insight Timer, Calm.
- Move Your Body. Get out of your head and into your body! The endorphin rush you get from exercise can be invaluable for managing stress, improving your mood and even boosting your immunity. If you can safely go outside while you exercise, that’s even better. (Don’t forget to wear a mask in public if you’ll be near others.) Again, nothing fancy required here as far as “exercise.” Just brisk walk will do. If you can’t get out, try a 10-minute yoga video, which is a nice & easy way to stretch, breathe and move your body.
- Connect with Others. Just spending time thinking about the special people in your life isn’t enough. But connecting with them can have a real impact on your well-being: increased happiness, better health, longer life. Yes, just reaching out to others can do all that! There are many simple ways to stay connected that don’t take too much time or effort. Make use of all the technology available—speak on the phone, see each other from across cyberspace on Zoom or FaceTime, or simply send a text.
Here’s a challenge for you: The next time you find yourself alone or caught up in your thoughts, don’t get overwhelmed and lost in the chaos of your mind. See if you can: Pause. Notice. Snap out of it! It won’t be easy. It’ll take practice and patience. But each time you make an effort to pause and notice what you’re doing, you’re creating a space. And with time, that space can lead you to an opportunity to make another choice. Instead of just “staying home” in your mind that is spiraling out of control on auto-pilot, you’ll slowly learn to make a new choice each time — journal, meditate, walk, connect to someone.
Take a few deep breaths. And ask yourself some questions to help pause and get out of your head: How am I doing? What do I need right now? What can I let go of in this moment?
The truth is, there really is no place like home. And you deserve to feel at home with yourself. Find what creates that feeling for you. And most importantly, make it habit & routine in your everyday life. That’s the key, making it a daily practice.
Stay healthy & safe. Sending you love & virtual hugs!
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