How To Survive a Worldwide Lockdown and Maintain Your Sanity…

How To Survive a Worldwide Lockdown and Maintain Your Sanity…

As most of the world begins to open up from a global quarantine, I look back at what really got me through this uncertain and chaotic time virtually unscathed.

The quarantine afforded me the time to truly go inward. My cats would wake me up at sunrise then I would start meditating before I start work. I probably would have gone crazy had it not for this really great meditation app called Insight Timer. It has really changed my life. Initially, I would wake up grumpy as I am not a morning person. I usually jump off the bed and get my morning started without even making my bed. Now, the early mornings allow more time for gratitude, bed-making, meditation, and even breakfast! I also end my day with an evening meditation. I even created a SoundCloud sleep meditation playlist.

Just gonna nerd out a bit here…Numerous studies show meditation decreases not only anxiety and depression, but it also is an excellent adjunct for pain relief. In fact, neuroimaging studies show that changes happen in our brains when we meditate. Some studies even found that it can actually slow age-related cognitive decline!

Pre-COVID, I was addicted to ClassPass and group classes. I legit could not get enough of them. I love the variety it affords me and the ease of booking classes. I can go spinning one day, then yoga, or HIIT, then versaclimber, or Pilates, aqua cycling, then boxing. I hate going to the gym not knowing which machines to use or what exercises to do that, often times, I just end up using the rowing machine for 30 minutes then leave. So when the quarantine started and all studios closed down, I wasn’t sure how to go about my workouts. I started doing some Tracy Anderson workouts, dance workouts courtesy of Mylee Dance, but the thing that really made me feel incredible were my outdoor workouts.

Because of the decreased car traffic, I was able to summon the courage to ride my bike in the streets of Miami again. Not everyone knows this, but I got hit by a car while riding my bike in 2018. I wasn’t hurt badly (just gashes on my legs and minor tibial fractures) but I was traumatized by that experience. Being able to get on the bike again was empowering. It definitely feels good to regain my confidence while riding.

Even better when I summoned the courage this weekend to get back on the route where I had my accident. I took a video to commemorate the ride, but I had no idea how I would feel. It was a surprisingly emotional and cathartic moment and felt so compelling. It feels amazing to face your fears.

In the fall of last year, I started training for my very first half-marathon. I was doing well and clocking in the miles early on in the training. That is, until I got the dreaded shin splints! When I served in the Air Force and we would do our daily runs, so many recruits would complain about their shin splints. I didn’t realize how painful it was until it happened to me! So, instead of running, I would just go on long walks (at least 5 miles) carrying 3 lb weights on both hands. That low intensity workout really got me sweating and toned.



Friends and family
The quarantine has enabled me to keep in touch with friends and family. I used to shy away from calling people because I feel like I was gonna be trapped on the phone for awhile when I feel like I never have time for hour long conversations. But hello, 2020! I now look forward to hour long convos, hilarious and emotional FaceTime or Whatsapp calls, and happy hours courtesy of Zoom and HouseParty. I even organized a Zoom Dance Party in April.

My cats
After being with someone constantly for almost 20 years, there is nothing more terrifying than facing a lockdown all alone. The prospect was so scary but I never felt alone with my two kitties. My two incredible furry companions since 2001, Mickey (white with two different colored-eyes) and Bisho (tiger-striped with one eye lost to uveal melanoma) showed me love, support, and comfort during this uncertain time.

Science of Well-Being
Now I cannot speak enough of this course from Yale by the incredible Dr. Laurie Santos. In this class, you delve into common misconceptions about happiness and you learn strategies on how to improve your well-being and build more rewarding habits. Best of all, it’s free! I talk about this in a video HERE.

Self-improvement work
The change in marital status gave me the impetus to really look at myself and how I want my life to unfold. I used numerous resources HERE to help me learn how to be vulnerable, establish boundaries, work on my inner child, and discover my self-worth.

Side projects
In addition to still working and seeing patients via telemedicine, I picked up a few side projects. These include starting a non-profit, writing fiction and poetry, restarting my knitting inspired by my dear friend Siri, rediscovered my guitar, candle-making, creating video content for my cosmetic dermatology Instagram @paulasperfectpout and working on a virtual workshop focused on anti-aging strategies.

With all of the above going on, it didn’t really leave me a lot of time to binge-watch anything. I feel like I am sooo far behind all the shows that everyone is talking about. But, there were a few that really captured my attention (apart from the Tiger King, which everyone saw):
1. We’re Here-a 6 part HBO series featuring RuPaul’s Drag Race favorites: Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara, and Shangela. The three drag queens visit small-town America and produce a one-night drag show featuring locals. What really resonates with me about this show is how they depict drag as empowering not just the LGBTQ+ community into living their most authentic lives, but drag is able to give this to straight people as well. It is done so well that there has not been an episode where I did not go through a box of tissues.
2. Never Have I Ever-is an American coming of age story featuring an Indian-American teenage girl as the protagonist. It is created by Mindy Kaling and Lang Fisher. The comedy is partially based on Kaling’s real childhood growing up in the Boston area. It’s smart, hilarious, and real. Plus, the soundtrack is kick-ass. It includes music from my faves electro-pop duo Milk & Bone, Robyn, Widowspeak, the uber dreamy Anna of the North, and the catchy electro-poppy “Fire For You” by Cannons.
3. Better Call Saul-the new season of this Breaking Bad spin-off is incredibly riveting. I gotta say, Kim Wexler is a bonafide bossbabe and OG. Not gonna ruin it for you, but it’s sooo good.
4. Westworld-the dystopian drama from HBO features a star-studded cast and mind-blowing special effects. But what really takes the viewer in is the intriguing storyline courtesy of husband and wife team Lisa Joy and Jonathan Nolan as well as the acting.

I think that I am in the minority when I say that I am apprehensive in opening things up, but I get the economic impact that the lockdown brought about. A lot people have to make money and get back to work. But we have to admit that there are a lot of incredible lessons to be gained by this experience. Lessons which we couldn’t get any other way.

I hope that we all took some time to make simple changes in our lives, because we can all agree that before the worldwide quarantine, things were not so good for humanity and the world. We became so materialistic, shallow, angry, divisive, lost our sense of community, and really trashed our environment. I hope that we can be kind, caring, compassionate, grateful,  empathetic, keep our hearts open, and know that we are all united by this shared experience.


Lots of love,