The feeling of being utterly stuck and alone is so real during these times of COVID-19, whether in quarantine in your hometown or living abroad as an expat.
As Colombia enters its 14th day of a countrywide quarantine, nothing has made me feel farther from home than the uncertainty that the pandemic has provoked and the prospect of not being able to see my family and partner for the foreseeable future.
Here, I will share my experience of what has helped me as I navigate the day-to-day life in quarantine in Medellin, Colombia and stay connected with those I love.
1. Stay present. One of the simplest things I am doing is reminding myself to stay present and focus on the things that I can control. At a time of so much uncertainty, I am practicing daily to focus on the present moment and do the next best thing I can throughout the day.
2. Take time to grieve. Whether it is the death of a family member or friend, a canceled trip, a job, connections with friends, we have all lost something to the coronavirus. As I followed the news, saw the world slowly shutting down and countries closing their borders, my trip that I had planned months ago to see my partner in France was postponed.
Other things like not being able to participate in meaningful work, engage socially with friends and family, and move about freely, have also been very real losses for me. As I have been reminding myself throughout these past weeks, it is okay to feel all of the things that you are feeling; journal, make art, break a plate, cry, what is important is to express how you are feeling and take time to grieve the losses and disappointments you are experiencing.
3. Make a list of “your people.” Something simple that has helped me, not just in the times of COVID-19, has been making a list of the people I can reach out to in my local community in Medellin as well as my friends and family abroad.
Making a list of “my people” has been a great reminder that I am not alone and I have a community to support me when I need someone to lean on. It has also been helpful for me to identify and make a connection with an English-speaking psychologist in Medellin who I have as a resource in case I need anything.
4. Try out ZOOM. Happy hours, book clubs, trivia nights, online workshops and workout classes, you name it! ZOOM, an online meeting application has opened up many possibilities for connecting with others and virtually “hanging out” with others while we are practicing social distancing and in quarantine. My friends from the United States and I recently organized a trivia night and it has been a wonderful way to connect with others and feel like I have something that resembles a social life.
Individually and collectively we are all experiencing the toll that COVID-19 has taken on our lives. If anything has helped me right now, I will end with this: Stay connected to those you love, take time to grieve, and practice gratitude. This too shall pass.
How are you staying connected to those you love? Please share your tips in our forums or in the comments below.