This is the 5th batch of warm fluffy cookies fresh out of my oven and it is only 4 AM.
As the decadent aroma of cinnamon and chocolate washes over my being, I slowly start thinking about the past 24 hours.
My parents got into another screaming match.
I am certain I heard a plate being smashed.
I trembled during the onslaught of abuses and threats.
There seems to be no end to this nightmare because the lockdown has been extended once again.
Does this sound familiar to you? Do you know someone (or are someone) for whom the pandemic has brought, not just a flurry of face mask designs and social distancing rules, but also, the added obstacle of being stuck with someone who abuses you or has made emotionally abused you as their quarantine ritual?
If yes, you have just entered your safe space! You are not alone. You are heard, you are supported, and you can probably test the three ideas given below to give happy quarantining a shot!
3 TIPS TO SURVIVE QUARANTINE IN A TOXIC HOUSEHOLD
TWO CUPS OF FLOUR WITH A TABLESPOON OF HAPPINESS
Not being able to predict the next fight in your house, or straining your ears to pick up on a potential argument in the next room might leave you with a sense of no control. What better way to take away that feeling than to have a simple (or complicated!) set of steps that lead you to a yummy baked good?
With your baking glove and apron as your shield and armor, and the whirring of the food processor blocking out all external noise, you can lose yourself in a world where the only important dilemma will be whether to use vanilla essence or cinnamon in the batter (Why not both?).
“There is a rhythm or pattern to baking,” according to clinical psychologists. “It feels familiar and can even lead to a mindful state.”
What is mindfulness? It means being in a zone of engagement and awareness, where you are in control, and not just reacting to what is happening around you.
Measuring, removing bubbles from the batter, incessantly staring at the oven while you hope the cake rises, and of course, binging on the dessert in the end; all of this diverts your mind in a happy way.
The butter and the anxiety both melt away together.
VIRTUALLY BE IN ANOTHER (PART OF THE) WORLD AND FORGET TO PACK YOUR ANXIETY FOR THE JOURNEY
No, I am not talking about the Netflix world for you to immerse yourself in Monica Geller’s life, or become a part of The Office’s Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.
Have there been times that your family ruined what would have been a fun vacation on the beaches of Sri Lanka, with their constant fighting?
What if you could go on your own mini-vacations to some of the popular tourist sites, using your laptop and some strong Internet?
Courtesy to initiatives by museums, heritage sites, and other vacation spots around the world, we can now go on virtual tours while being in our bedrooms.
Think the Louvre in Paris, or the Andes Mountains in Peru. Of course, it might not be the same as being there in person, but at least it gives you the chance to explore a new place, minus the bickering in the background. Schedule a few of these each week, and maybe just for those brief moments, you won’t feel stuck in an abusive environment anymore!
COLORING IN SOME POSITIVITY
Multiple studies have led mental health professionals to recommend coloring as a solution to combating anxiety and restlessness. Suggested to be more effective than 30 minutes of reading, coloring for a similar amount of time, whether it is in pretty Mandala patterns or in cute children’s books, will divert your attention enough to feel almost like you are meditating.
There is only a simple task ahead of you: to color in the patterns. Nothing else. It is not about making the next award-winning drawing, nor is it about keeping the colors within the lines. Scribble if you want.
Just remember…Breathe, color, repeat.
The tips given here are not permanent solutions or even the only tips out there that will work; they are just a couple of rays of hope that might keep you going.
On some days you will throw your coloring book and sleep for 22 hours, while on some, your cookies and cakes will give you comfort. On other days you might want to snuggle in bed while binge-watching Friends and the thought of immersing yourself in an unfamiliar vacation spot might stress you out more.
Just remember: You are strong for holding on for so long, and we will get through this. One day at a time.
So tell us, what little survival tip helped you today?
Akansha loves exploring taboo topics such as experiences related to mental health disorders and is actively trying to normalize talking about anxiety and depression. As a freelance writer, she is also exploring the intersection of educational institutions and mental health in India and across the world.
Always ready to listen, Akansha believes that a person should never have to feel that no one out there understands, and she tries to use her writing to show that nobody is alone.
See the social media links below to know more about the author.