Self-Isolation Pt. 1

I’ve been self-isolating for a week now, since we were given the option from work to come in or stay home (paid, which is nice). As I was done with customers coming in and coughing on all of us, and readily willing to take the advice of doctors and researchers, self-isolation is where I’m at. Luckily, I’ve been feeling pretty good physically, but it’s time like this where I know I’m not the only one who is feeling stressed and a bit anxious. I will probably be doing a few blog posts on self-isolation but I figure I’d start with how to spend your time wisely.

D069E443-F9D9-4E89-8FC9-7370A0005EDFSpike is enjoying self-isolation.

First off, for anyone who can work from home or has full-time school (albeit online), you are lucky because that will at least eat up the majority of your Monday to Fridays. My school program is online and because it’s a masters, I tend to need to spend 2-3 hours a day on it (some days a bit more depending on what is due that week). I find this helpful for getting through it. I’ve also signed up for a number of volunteer shifts, each 2 hours in length. I volunteer at Kids Help Phone as a Crisis Text Responder. This means I can do it all online from the comfort of my house. That being said, I know that everyone may not have these options.

IMG_6112Keeping busy.

I strongly suggest setting up a routine. Same or similar wake up time each day (if you were previously working, maybe the time you’d normally get up). I get up between 7 and 7:30 each morning, have a shower, and make coffee/breakfast. At some point during the day I go for a walk. Since Canada isn’t on lockdown, it’s a great way to get exercise and fresh air while social distancing – if you choose a day of time and/or place to walk that is not busy! I also do a few exercise routines in doors that work my muscles groups. My goal is to have rocking abs by the end of this. Exercise is one way to keep busy but won’t take up all of your day, and you’ll want to rotate your muscle groups, maybe throw in some yoga (Youtube is a great source for this). What else can you do?

E72BF251-F9C0-484F-A8EE-08D38AAAB7FBGot out my sax for the first time in a while.

Meditate. Guided meditations that are 10-20 minutes long are fantastic, especially if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Other types of self-care are also great – bubble baths, DIY manis and pedis, whatever you enjoy. If you play an instrument, now is the time to get a lot of practicing in, maybe learn a few new songs. If you like to draw, paint or just do arts and crafts, that is a great way to spend your time. READING! One of my faves. If you don’t have a ton of books, just read 2 chapters a day even (though bookstores are still shipping and libraries have ebooks you can rent). Cook and clean. Yes, household chores can be mundane but you can really enhance those cooking skills now, and I’ve reorganized parts of my house I never have time to! Learn a new language. There’s lots of content online as well as apps that are great. Video chat with friends and family. I video chat with my parents every day, and with at least one friend every day (I will definitely be doing a future post on this).

IMG_6111Find Yoga and Guided Meditations on Youtube!

The point is, we can keep ourselves busy if we try. And this is coming from someone who is single, lives alone (with just my pup, as my roommate is staying with her family). Limiting time on Netflix and video games is ultimately healthier, though spending a bit of time on these activities is totally fine. I don’t have kids, but I imagine that keeping them busy is also time consuming but probably great to spend more quality time with them.

IMG_6116Image from Simon’s Cat (Instagram)

Remember, if we follow the recommendations on self-isolating and social distancing, we will get through this sooner. Take care everyone!

Health Update

To start, this is a non-coronavirus related health update. I finally got my MRI results back last week. I had a MRI on my hip in January, as it has been a constant source of pain for the past few years. Most of my other body pain comes and goes, rotating around, except for my hip. It turns out I have a nondisplaced tear of my anterior labrum. That is what has been causing the constant pain.

hip_labral_tear_intro01Image from:

I have also been having a lot of pain down my thigh the past month. Same side – left. My rheumatologist told me that it is likely referred pain, as is the pain in my lower back and buttocks. Apparently, it’s fairly common with this type of tear. So, as I’m sure you’re wondering, how did I tear my hip. That I actually looked up on the Internet (yes, I know, not always a reliable source of info but I tend to stick to sites like the Mayo Clinic). Last year my rheumatologist told me I have hip dysplasia, which basically means my hip socket doesn’t fully cover the ball of my thigh bone. It’s genetic and there is nothing that can be done for it. Turns out, that can cause these types of tears. Go figure.

hip-dysplasia-in-adultsImage from:

Solution: Well part 1 is to go to physio as it can help. That being said I’ve had physio on my hip (as well as other areas of my body) for four years, so yes, it will likely be tailored to this specific problem now, but realistically it may not help much since it hasn’t in the past. The other problem is that of course, with Covid-19, the clinic is closed. So I’ll stick to stretches for now. The other option is surgery. My rheumatologist sent a referral over to the Orthapaedic surgeon. Who knows how long it will take to get to see him/her, and then s/he will decide if I do need surgery. So we’ll see.

IMG_6004Hospital waiting games…

For now, stay safe everyone and try not to go too stir crazy during self-isolation.

Mindfulness Everywhere

Mindfulness can become an important part of your life if you let it. It can be freeing, and eye-opening, it can allow you to deal with emotions and pain in the moment. It also takes a lot of practice to learn. I have been practicing mindfulness for a few years now, and it has finally really felt like it’s working… well, not working so much as me being able to really practice it intentionally, deeply, and when I need to.

9D3420FE-8313-4BDE-AE64-6BE9B2A5E851Spike’s meditative practices.

I find that music, particularly classical, but really any music can be an amazing gateway to practice mindfulness. Just listening to every note, every beat, every instrument or voice, and not worrying about anything else can be the path to expressing emotion I didn’t know was there. I was at the symphony the other day, listening to the music of John Williams. I immersed myself into the performance, feeling the urge to cry when the music reminded me of my favourite movie moments, or very sorrowful scenes.

IMG_5921Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO) warming up.

Today I did a guided mindful walk. I listened to the sounds around me, paid attention to the impact of my feet on the ground, and the wind blowing across my face. I took in the smells and sights of the city, and paid little attention to anything else for 10 minutes. Though it didn’t stir up emotions, it allowed me to practice paying purposeful attention to my surroundings, something we often take for granted when walking.

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Lastly, I have in the past week used mindfulness with some of my chronic pain. I have had a pain in my left thigh for about a month. My naturopath thinks it might be the nerve, though I will also be touching base with my rheumatologist this week. The pain doesn’t really go away, so a few times when it’s been particularly bad, I’ve paid mindful attention to it. The first time I did this was a day where I found myself in a grumpy mood. I knew the mood was probably because of the pain, because grumpy is definitely not my default (I’m more of a happy-go-lucky type of gal). I spent a few minutes paying attention to my leg pain (as I did again later in the week). While the focus can initially make the pain seem worse, it did improve my mood because I was able to let go of the emotions surrounding the pain, and just be.

0119_Meditation-1024x683Image from:

If you don’t currently practice mindfulness, I suggest checking it out. It’s not for everyone but many people have found great benefits from it for both physical and mental health symptoms. Happy International Women’s Day to all my fellow ladies out there!