I'm not going to lie, when I heard about the "social distancing" measures I thought, "Oh, this is going to be so easy, I'm pretty much home all the time anyways." The truth is, I had more daily interactions than I had processed, and I think that's because it's who I am as a Latina.
Like many Latinx, I thrive with contact. Most of the time I don't really pay attention to personal space, and get as physically close as I can get when I'm having an interesting conversation. I also tap people a lot. It comes with being extra expressive. If the conversation gets juicy, I'll probably react with a tap on the other person's shoulder and saying "No me digas!"
And let's not even begin with all the hugging and kissing. It's just my way to say hello. I get weirded out when someone extends their hand for a shake, and end up pulling them in for a bear hug. So, after a little over two weeks of being isolated alone at home, I started having a lot of anxiety. I was already doing what I have to do by staying home and limiting my time outside — only going out once a day to walk my dog and get some sun — but I was getting way in my head.
That's when I decided to try and do things that would bring me comfort and make me feel a little closer to home and get my mind off what's going on, if only for a little bit.
Limit Social Media
While we're relying on technology to stay connected lately, we've been saturating ourselves, which is taking a huge toll on our mental health. So, the first thing I did to start feeling like myself again was to limit social media, especially Facebook.
I personally use it to stay connected with my family — we know how much our tías and abuelas love it — but all I saw were people complaining, or posting conspiracy theories, or being rude to each other. Most of them mean well, but all the information overload with so many mixed messages can haze your mind. You'd be surprised, but going only a day without it did wonders for me.
Video Chats With Tus Seres Queridos
Instead of connecting with my whole family over social media, my immediate family agreed to do a video conference where we could all hang out for a bit. Seeing their faces made me feel much better, and we were able to talk about other things that were not coronavirus-related. We made jokes, reminisced good times, and even got our pets on the call as well.
Belt It Out!
Another thing I've found myself doing to de-stress has been yelling Juan Gabriel's iconic "Querida" out lout at random times. I don't know why, but after I've done it I pause and think of how ridiculous I sound and start bursting into laughter. Ricky Martin's "Vuelve" has the same effect as well. I've also noticed myself gravitating more towards music in Spanish. I think it's because it's my first language, and subconsciously, hearing it grounds me and makes me feel closer to where I come from and who I am.
Dance Party For One
I've discovered it's highly as effective to burst out into little dance moments just because. Daddy Yankee's "Que Tire Pa' Lante" is my go-to, that song just makes me want to get up and dance. I even learned the Zumba choreo that months ago was an Instagram challenge I was too busy to take part in. Another song that gets me going? Pabllo Vittar's "Buzina," you can't not dance to it.
Food That Tastes Like Home
Usually, after my little dance parties, I get hungry. This has been a bigger challenge for me, not because I don't know how to cook, but because I really don't like cooking. However, I've been taking this situation to make my favorite comfort foods. From mangú de plátano con cebollita, to arroz con habichuelas, each bite has transported me to a happy place.
A Little Pampering Goes a Long Way
As all these things make me feel good on the inside, it starts reflecting on the outside. And I'm taking this opportunity to enhance that reflection by indulging in a little pampering. Since I have a little more time now, I've been cleansing my face more often, moisturizing consistently, spending an extra five minutes in the shower to put on a hair mask, finally using that cuticle oil I bought months ago, and exfoliating my feet.
If you live by yourself, like me, these little actions of self-care and self-love will make you feel more relaxed and will provide a positive distraction. Now more than ever, I'm tapping into my Latinidad to make me feel comforted and supported during these times as I learn to adapt to this temporary normal at home to help flatten the curve. Things will get better, and when they do, I'll look back and think how my heritage positively impacted how I coped with this period.