Updated: Apr 17
How to bring peace into your Coronavirus jail cell without spending money
One of the greatest lessons my mother ever taught me came during a drive through a country club neighborhood when I was just a kid. I sat in awe of mansion after mansion wondering what it was like to live in castles like that. She sensed my amazement since we spent the first 9 years of my life in a single wide trailer next door to my grandparents.
She hit me with this - and it never left me.
“You see all these pretty houses? Look in the driveways. Not one is home. They are all at work trying to pay for those pretty houses for the rest of their lives.”
Southern mommas always know how to throw a truth bomb.
Now in our #COVID19 existence, everyone is home. The driveways are full and so are the houses - not just the mansions. Good thing the stores are closed since no amount of money can buy your way out of your own house which for a lot of people is starting to feel like a jail cell.
Welcome to social distancing friends. You are about to learn a lot about yourself instead of everyone else.
This is all happening with ironic timing for me. I've spent the last 7 months isolating myself in my home while fighting a losing battle with depression and anxiety. Trust me, friends. #Coronavirus isn't the only illness that can throw your life upside down.
Just when I finally found it bearable to walk into a grocery store again - every store I never knew I needed shuts down. The rest of the world is now staring at the same four walls just like me day in and day out waiting on the storm to pass. So I'm passing a long a few tips that helped me put some figurative wallpaper on my jail cell.
Cleanliness is next to godliness
Clean spaces are essential to focus and calm. A clean organized house is a massage for my mind even when my husky sheds her winter coat so violently I find dog hair in the refrigerator. I don't mean just spraying your house with Lysol or vacuuming. I mean clearing your space of everything that does not serve you.
Clutter can be a physical reminder of the chaos we are living in right now. Chaos creates anxiety. Anxiety puts the flight or fight fear response into overdrive. Right now - the flight we face in isolation is a mental checkout to responsibilities and a need to numb the fear of a future we have no control over.
Suddenly that pile of papers on the kitchen table is a symbol of bills you can't pay with money you don't have and the cycle of mental rumination. Put it up or throw it away but get it out of your daily line of vision.
Let go of the old. Bring in the used.
I don't know one homeowner who doesn't have a "junk room" that seems to catch all the things we don't need, don't use, don't want but somehow still have. Let it go.
And make some extra money at the same time.
I sold just about everything I owned in my house on Facebook Marketplace. It's the virtual thrift store that keeps on giving and the best part is no contact porch pickup. Coffee tables, desks, lamps and lawn mowers - you can find it all or sell it all to your friends, neighbors and even strangers who may need what you have. $20 for that old bed frame in the basement means money in your pocket and getting someone else's mattress off the floor for much less money than a retail store.
Post it, get paid through PayPal or Venmo, arrange a time for pickup and put it on the porch. Boom. Less junk. More money. Don't think it's worth anything? Post it in the free section to help out someone who could put it to good use and receive the gift of giving.
Trust me. It feels good.
Know what speaks to you - and fill your house with it
I'm a word person. Words make me feel something. Not surprising for a journalist.
So I choose to surround myself with words I want to read every day. Words that make me feel inspired and optimistic. Phrases, quotes, music lyrics - anything that softens the sting of the silence in my home or in my head.
How does your mind speak to you? Maybe it's pictures. Take a dig through that bin of photo albums in the closet and pull out a few that make you smile. Put them in places where you can see them around your house.
Music? Make a playlist of all the songs that lift you up when you are down and set it to shuffle. Even if you are in the middle of a stressful email battle with a bill collector - your ears will hear the songs that make you happy and suddenly your mind will illicit a positive emotional response in your body. Your shoulders relax. You stop gritting your teeth. And you are able to carry on another moment without pulling your hair out.
Scent is also very powerful. On your next trip to the grocery store, pick up a few cheap candles to burn and fill the house with a scent that takes you to a calmer place in your mind. Lavender does wonders for me along with fresh cotton and sea salt. I close my eyes and magically I'm in Florida on the beach getting a tan while I wash the dishes - that is multitasking at it's best.
Open the windows and let the sun in
Our human as we know it world is closed but Mother Nature never takes a vacation.
Thats a relief! We all need a little fresh air even in solitary confinement. The sun brings in vital Vitamin D nutrients that can help fight depression and anxiety. Pull back the curtains. Turn off your house lights during the day and open the blinds. You are saving electricity and filling your home with natural light that can shift your mood from anxiety to calm over the course of the day.
If the spring time allergies won't send you into a sneezing fit - open up the windows for just a few hours while you are home. Take deep cleansing breaths when you feel overwhelmed or take a walk around the block to burn off the stress. Turn off the AC on the nice days and crack open the living room windows. You can hear the birds singing to each other in the trees and feel the breeze blow across your face while you work. These natural elements will help ground you to a sense of calm. If the birds are singing - you can too.
Use what you got. Don't let it go to waste.
So you've gotten rid of what you don't need but now the human instinct is to fill the empty space it left with something else. That doesn't mean a WayFair shopping spree. It means taking a look around and getting creative with your space. What can you keep and use in a new way?
Move your furniture around. Change the decor in the room you spend the most time in with decor from other rooms. For instance - I took an old metal file cabinet I had in my office and gave it a new life with some white paint and a repurposed wood top. It's so cute and makes me grin at my creative nature but it stayed hidden in my office. I brought it out and into the living room next to the couch and use it as a side table with storage.
Most of the time the things we already have are in working condition - we just don't like them. Rather than throw them out - find new ways to use them. Just a fresh coat of paint can give an old potting plant a whole new life. Luckily - the hardware stores are still open which means spray paint is your new paintbrush. It's quick, it's easy, it's cheap and it brings a piece of yourself into your home. Who wants to live in a Kirkland's magazine all day? Make your space yours by adding your own creative touch.