My hands may be prunes, but I refuse for my brain to reach the same predicament—and it’s proved quite easy to allow the brain to diminish during this quarantine. While there may not be chemical agents via hand sanitizer and antibacterial soap to cure the brain and induce it to perform its usual function—as it does so efficiently for propagating healthy skin—the obvious solution to a healthy brain might be cutting down on my time with technology. When it comes to social media and streaming services, technology can become toxic, making the brain prune-like. Do I simply pry myself away from the screens that greet me from multiple rooms in my home?
Of course not. (Not only because I am determined to graduate college virtually, but because I have to finish watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. You see, I never got caught up on Season 3.)
The method with which I keep my wits and avoid those screens is by making lists. My mind is a mess of ideas and possibilities that could potentially fill my newfound free time, and a simple to-do list always suffices to organize my thoughts. (Bonus: did you know that physically crossing off an item on a list releases dopamine the same way that exercising does? Now that’s the kind of workout we like to engage in.)
- A poem-a-day keeps the worry away. I call it my “wordthink” series. I take each morning to gather my thoughts about my current state of mind, my emotions, and what the world looks like from both outside my window and inside my head. I write a poem and share it online. There’s something to be said about the cathartic effects of writing.
- Don’t be a lazy bum! I tell myself this as I stare at my consistently white ceiling. (Have you ever noticed how white your ceiling is these days? Has it gotten more devoid of color, more empty, as this quarantine has progressed? Is it just me?) I take an online yoga, aerobics, or dance technique class. Last week, when I took a walk around my neighborhood, I saw two of my friends across a street I had never walked down before. I waved from afar. Most exciting part of that day!
- Read. I have a shelf full of books I may never read. So I have picked one up.
- Taking the music-making out of the shower. Traditionally, the time to belt my favorite tunes is really only when I’m in the shower. With more spare hours to fill, I can actually see if the acoustics in my bedroom suffice for some guitar picking and slightly pitchy singing. Next, I’ll try out the kitchen. Maybe the living room.
- Call mom. Oh wait, this one isn’t new.
The list may be simple, but it is just enough to keep me stimulated enough to feel productive, and relaxed enough to feel as if I am taking advantage of this restorative and reflective time. It may not be a sophisticated list, but when it comes down to it, I’m not a very sophisticated person. And at this point, with everyone stuck in their homes and twiddling their thumbs, sophisticated is the last thing anyone should want to be. Thoughtful tasks are important, yes; however, when these tasks are endowed with a spirit of creative nonsense and whimsy, the daily drudge oftentimes is livened up with a delight that exfoliates the brain.
Now onto the problem of healing my pruned hands…