Last week, I talked about how to stay active during stay-at-home orders but this week I'll share my thoughts on how to take care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
One of the biggest problems I have is disconnecting from all the news and information from social media, texts, co-workers. Sometimes you just have to put that phone in a drawer and take a deep breath. The National Institutes of Health put together this great guide for how to get through any stay-home orders or business closures, and turning off electronics plays a part in those recommendations.
I hate to use the term self-love because it has different connotations for me, but I just used it. Practice it. Chillaxing takes on different forms for different people, but here are some of my ideas:
Shut the Door
Sometimes the best solution is to get away from it all. In this case - to another room in your home, if possible. If you have kids or a bouncing-off-the-walls partner, you may have to schedule that time so others know not to bother you. If you are part of the work-from-home posse, like me, maybe that means blocking off some time on your calendar.
What do you do now?
STITCH! Grab a book. Listen to a podcast. Read a magazine. Nap. Stare into space. Play Animal Crossing. Whatever floats your boat. The point is to have some quiet time to yourself, without interruptions.
Seriously! You can't stay miserable too long when you are dancing! Turn on your favorite music on Spotify and dance around your living room for 5 minutes. Don't know where to start? Pick a character from Peanuts and start moving! Suitable substitution: Karaoke!
Talk It Through
As someone who battles with anxiety and depression (and who watches too many news programs), I can understand that many people are struggling at this time. Being stuck at home - even if you are an introvert - can lead to feelings of loneliness and desperation. Add to that the need to home-school your children, work from home, do all your normal adulting and it can get overwhelming. Don't feel like you have to smile through this, pretending everything is puppy dogs and rainbows.
I'm a huge fan of therapy but maybe you can't access your therapist as much as you want or need to - adding to anxiety. Here are some ideas that I've heard while binge-watcing the news for the last 10 days:
* Nothing in this blog post is meant to replace advice from your healthcare provider or override your own personal common sense regarding your personal situation. Please stay safe, keep your distance, and be vigilant in following all safety and hygiene recommendations. If you, or someone you love, suffers from any mental health issues, including thoughts of self-harm, please reach out to a healthcare professional using one of these resources. If you are outside the U.S., please share reputable contact information with us so we can share with others!
As stitchers, we are all pretty OK with just sitting in our comfy chairs stitching the hours away. Maybe the scene changes based on the snackies next to you or the furry assistant on your lap but many of us would be perfectly content continuing to stitch through the stay-at-home mandates many of us are facing.
But eventually we have to move.
Here are some ways to get moving and perhaps feel more accomplished during this wackadoodle time - if you are not symptomatic, are not immunocompromised, have not tested positive for COVID-19, or your doctor has advised you not to leave your home at this time.*
Yes, I know that many of us are under stay-at-home orders, but that doesn't mean that you have to stay in your bedroom for 14+ days.
We are all so busy that we often have grand visions of things we can do around our homes - whether we live in a rented studio apartment or a large house. Now is the time to give your living space a little love.
I don't know about you, but my butt is wearing grooves into my couch. Even if you cannot get outside - for whatever reasons - there are ways to move around while stuck inside.
We'd love your ideas on how to beat the boredom during stay-at-home orders. Comment below or email us at TeamStitchLife@stitchlifemag.com. Next week we'll feature ideas on how to practice self care during the virus.
* Nothing in this blog post is meant to replace advice from your healthcare provider or override your own personal common sense regarding your personal situation. Please stay safe, keep your distance, and be vigilant in following all safety and hygiene recommendations.
TW: Flat Out Honesty about Mental Health
A few days ago I had my first panic attack.
Looking back, I’m sure it has been brewing for a while but I didn’t see it coming until it hit me, like the metaphorical 18-wheel truck.
For those of you who suffer from panic attacks or bouts of extreme anxiety, I’m sorry. Each of us experiences these emotions differently so I am not going to say that I feel your pain, but I can definitely empathize. And, I’m sorry.
In order to limit the potential for triggering others, I won’t go into the details of my experience other than to say that I was fortunate that I wasn’t driving, I have a supportive spouse, and I am safe.
But I will tell you one thing that helped me cope in the days after my panic attack: stitching and the stitching community.
While I have been quiet when it comes to commenting on or starting conversations in the groups that I belong to, including StitchLife, I have been following along and taking comfort in seeing WIPs and reading words of encouragement among the stitching community.
But I seriously spent about 3 days doing nothing but stitching. I didn’t have an appetite. I wasn’t interested in TV or podcasts.
I just wanted to stitch.
For me, there is something calming about the repetition of pushing a needle through fabric and pulling it back up again. The sound of the thread sliding against the rough Aida. The colors that pop on the white background. The progress made with every line from the pattern coming to life on the canvas in my hands.
Sure, I was slower than usual. And I had to double-check my counting many, many times because I would just...forget. But I was able to do something when I wasn’t able to go to work, leave my house, or even shower.
I could stitch.
When I felt like I couldn’t accomplish anything else, I could stitch.
If you, or someone you love, suffers from any mental health issues, including thoughts of self-harm, please reach out to a healthcare professional using one of these resources. If you are outside the U.S., please share reputable contact information with us so we can share with others!
If you would like to share your story about how stitching helps you through life’s troubles - whether mental health issues, family stress, un- or under-employment, or more - please feel free to share with us via email at TeamStitchLife@stitchlifemag.com. All submissions will be held in confidence and nothing will be shared without your permission.
Notorious Needle may have only been up and running for six months but owner Sarah Vargas has been building to this moment, in many ways, for decades.
I was drawn to Sarah’s designs after discovering her on Etsy -- and quickly signed up for her newsletter. Through that, I learned about her Political Therapy collection that she launched yesterday (aka Super Tuesday). I immediately reached out to learn more about her motivation and her path.
Like many of us, Sarah found that cute “birth announcement samplers or unicorns and faeries” did not jive with where she was in her life. After a tough divorce, when all Sarah wanted to do was scream, she heard about Stephanie Rohr's Subversive Cross Stitch.
She learned that it was ok “to drop an F-bomb into a wreath of embroidered flowers.”
“(Stephanie) inspired me to let go of what I was "supposed" to do and it was empowering in many aspects of my life. So now I want to pay it forward,” Sarah said.
I, for one, am grateful that Sarah wants to pay it forward because her new collection is fantastic.
“For this latest line,” she explained, “I participated in a couple of local protests and truly LAUGHED at a lot of the sign slogans. It felt so good to know that I was not alone in feeling horror at what I was witnessing my government do in my name. Keeping silent hurts us all, and I'm hoping to inspire people to talk MORE about the hard stuff like politics, religion, sex and money.”
She admits that her patterns aren’t for everyone. “Even my best friend said she could never stitch a particular one because it just hits too close to home.”
But Sarah has two straightforward responses to those who may not appreciate her amazing designs: “First,” she said, “scientific studies show that people who swear are more intelligent and are better able to endure pain, so it helps. And second, using crafts and art for political expression and influence isn't new - and it works.”
You can find Sarah all over social at @NotoriousNeedle -- for everything.
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