I’ve finally come to terms with a postponed year of exploration and travel. Until the COVID-19 pandemic starts declining, it seems as though we’re all confined to a staycation. I mentioned the cancellation of my Japan / Olympics 2020 trip in my last blogpost, and this is something I’m still a little sad about. Okay, a lot sad. I loosely planned on backpacking around Asia after the Olympics, something I’ve been dreaming about (and saving $) for the last six months.
I know we’re in a global pandemic. I know people are dying. In the face of 100,000 dead bodies, I understand the loss of trips / festivals / birthdays may seem trivial. But it’s not irrational to feel sad about the non-essential things that bring us joy. You don’t have to feel guilty because it’s “not as important”. Whatever it was, it was important to you.
These cancelled plans can feel like a loss of structure, a loss of stability. No, it’s not a loss of life – but your frustrations are still valid and rational. Just like any loss, you deserve time to process and grieve. As a professional #sadgurl (yes, that’s an official title), I wanted to share potential coping mechanisms. Rather than dwell on the morbidity of current events, I’m trying to shift my perspective and focus on self-care. If you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious during this time, here’s what I’m doing to cope:
- Breathing fresh air: While social distancing continues to be my #1 priority, I’m still making daily efforts to connect with nature. As long as you keep distance from other people, a walk within your neighborhood will do you so much good! It’s easy to feel stir-crazy after being inside for multiple days in a row. Hiking trails have been closed to discourage public gatherings, but I think simply being outside can be soothing enough. Sitting alone in the grass, observing how the tree branches sway, listening to the birds chip… it’s the greatest remedy. We all need a little nourishment from the earth.
- Reach out to people: Talking on Zoom might not be as satisfying as an in-person meeting, but it’s certainly made me feel less alone during this time. I’ve been Facetiming with friends, joining virtual yoga classes, watching livestreams – anything to make me feel like I’m connected to a community. If you’re feeling isolated, don’t be afraid to reach out to people.
- Keep yourself busy: The first week of quarantine, I did absolutely nothing. It was fun for the first 48 hours and then descended into something terrible. While some people may be able to sink into the nothingness and feel perfectly fine, I started to feel depression creeping up. I hadn’t showered in days, my bed was full of crumbs, and I played Animal Crossing for 36 hours straight. So yeah, mistakes were made and I would not recommend it. But this is my first pandemic! I’m learning! Productivity = good. Staying in bed all day = bad.
- Virtual travel tours: I know a virtual tour isn’t the same thing as being there in-person. I won’t try to pretend it is. It’s like someone missing a concert and being told to stream it on Spotify. When you travel virtually, you won’t be able to smell the street food or hear locals speaking in their native tongue. BUT I still think online offerings are an incredible resource. Staying in can be the perfect opportunity to broaden your global knowledge, and perhaps plan a trip for the future! Here are some of my favorite virtual travel opportunities during COVID-19:
- The Lourve in Paris – Take a 360-degree tour of one of the most famous museums in the world! I feel extremely lucky to have visited the Louvre in-person, and despite being there multiple times, there is always something new to explore in their expansive collections.
- Yosemite National Park – While national parks across the country are closed, a quarantine doesn’t have to be the end of your outdoor exploration. The online Yosemite tour is complete with nature sounds and panoramic views!
- National Gallery of Art in Washington DC – The DC-based museum is now offering an online collection tour and virtual exhibition. The modern art and realism categories will not disappoint.
- Tate Modern in London – If you’re looking for whimsical art to explore, Tate Modern now has all 12 Andy Warhol rooms available online. The curator’s video is less than 10 minutes, so I would definitely recommend setting aside a few minutes to watch it.
I know a lot of these tips may seem obvious, but sometimes we need a gentle reminder of the basic things. Breathing, connecting with people, moving your body… it’s really quite simple, but you have to make the conscious choice to find joy + light amidst these gloomy days. At the end of the day, there’s really nothing we can do but wash our hands and play Animal Crossing!