Apr 8

Self-Care in Isolation

by: Nadia Malik, Emily Crane, Pamela Draper, Melissa Fogg, Kali Silverman, and Norah Langweiler

Under usual circumstances, weeks away from work sounds like a dream. Days of Netflix and chill, time to cook that fancy bread recipe, sleeping in! Unfortunately, for many of us, the forced isolation has felt less like a staycation and more like confinement.

Porch Light, Mural Arts’ behavioral health gurus, have put together a list of soothing and affirming activities they are engaging in to maintain a healthy mental state throughout this period. If you are feeling extra tired or sluggish throughout the pandemic, it’s likely a trauma response. Read more on that here.

We want to note that our team is extremely privileged to have remote access to our jobs and we know not everyone is able to be safe at home. Please refer to the City of Philadelphia’s COVID-19 response page for more information and resources.

Mind Your Mindset 

We are all experiencing shared trauma which exhausts the body and mind.

  • Monitor your social media and news intake. More information isn’t always the best. People have different thresholds, so it’s important to recognize what gives you comfort. For some people, gathering all the data in the world is helpful. For others, it can be overwhelming or increase anxiety.
  • Recognize that we are all likely going through cycles of feeling okay and then feeling anxious. Meltdowns are going to happen. Some days will just be bad. But some days will feel better.
  • Journal!
  • Breathe or just take some time alone to reflect and do nothing helps. There are free meditation apps that can help during a quiet moment like right before bed.

Pro-tip: To help combat all the unknowns, write a weekly list of "Things I know," like: - Talking walks around the block and breathing fresh air helps - Creativity is essential and everywhere - We will get through this (I will get through this) - I am grateful, patient, and compassionate with myself and others.

- Nadia Malik

Expression Session with The Kensington Voice, March 6, 2020. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Surround Yourself (and Others) With Love 

  • Lean on whoever gives you comfort. For some, that can be coworkers, for others friend groups, family, or pets!
  • Group texts threads can keep you feeling connected. You could find yourself in even better communication with long distance old friends than before! 
  • Share music with friends by compiling playlists.

Pro-tip: Some music streaming services like Spotify have a collaborative playlist option.

  • Connect with each other through group text or WhatsApp threads, virtual book clubs or yoga classes, regular family video chats or even virtual game nights.

How I’m coping: Helping others out when I can: my cousin is 8.5 months pregnant and on self-quarantine to be extra safe, so I added her grocery list to mine and delivered her groceries! Lots of fresh fruits and veggies! I also baked gluten free chocolate chip cookies for both our families!

- Kali Silverman

Move Mindfully 

  • Try to move every day by taking a walk outside (6 ft away from others) or virtual exercise classes.
  • Do short, realistic tasks that make you feel accomplished, like re-learning how to sew a button and fix a favorite shirt, depilling sweaters (with a depiller or a simple razor, it’s very easy and calming), or organizing small piles of papers and art that have collected over time. The key is to keep these projects small, manageable and achievable!

"I’m pregnant, so using Zoom to do prenatal yoga classes with friends has been something to look forward to. Pregnancy (and any complicating health or mental condition) adds an extra dose of stress and emotions to this...so having a support network of people going through the same thing has been invaluable."

- Melissa Fogg

Expression Session with The Kensington Voice, March 6, 2020. Photo by Steve Weinik.

Distraction is the Best Respite 

  • Read!
  • Take lots of baths!
  • Watch TV (in case you needed an excuse).
  • Tackle projects that have been neglected for a long time, like filing away old paperwork or cleaning out a closet of old items. 
  • Listen to music. There’s always a song that can meet the challenges of the moment, and help us imagine a way forward.
  • Be bored. The pressure to make productive use of your time is everywhere. But you have permission to do nothing. Stare at a bird sitting on a branch for 20 minutes. Fill an entire piece of paper with squiggly lines. Wonder if you can feel your hair growing. This is trauma – don’t expect yourself to be functioning at the top of your game and give yourself the grace to just be.

Allow yourself to get distracted because, um hello - you're working at home (sometimes with multiple kids or other room-mates around) and a global health crisis is happening. DUH! It's inevitable. You are going to get distracted.

- Emily Crane

Get Creative 

Creativity is a great outlet! It can help us express our feelings, reflect on what’s going on or have a moment to work on something with our hands. 

  • Do a puzzle or coloring page. 
  • Pick up that instrument you’ve been neglecting.
  • Now is a great time to try a new instrument or music skill. Putting in a little bit of time every day can lead to a great new creative outlet.

"Remember the delight of just sitting down and listening to an entire album, without doing anything else simultaneously? I had a friend in the past who called it a "music bath" - just let the music wash over you and give it all your attention (or for extra relaxation - actually listen to a whole album WHILE taking a bath!)."

- Pamela Draper

About Us 

Porch Light is a partnership between Mural Arts and the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbiity Services (DBHIDS). Programming focuses on healing and wellness, especially for those dealing with mental health issues or trauma. 

Porch Light staff includes: 

– Nadia Malik, program director and social worker

– Jessica Lewis-Turner, project manager 

– Kali Silverman, contract project manager

– Emily Crane, program manager

– Pamela Draper, program manager and music therapist

– Melissa Fogg, program manager and social worker

– Shira Walinsky, coordinator and artist 

Last updated: Apr 9, 2020

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