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Art in stressful times

Finding your center in stressful times

During this time of covid-19 shutdown, I hope this finds you well and practicing safe habits. Staying home, washing hands, washing shoes, don’t touch your face and all those good basic practices to keep you and all of us safe. I have to admit I got very scared about all of this and could only think of the basics like cleaning and making food from scratch. Sometimes, art is not in creating an object but in creating an aesthetic. For me, that meant cleaning and clearing out space. Perhaps, a jump start on spring cleaning but a positive move to making life feel more controlled in the unknown. Plus, soap kills the virus.

I have been following a lot of the news (and cutting my self off for a few days, to not get overwhelmed) and sharing on facebook and other social medias. I find it helpful and positive to share and read reflections during this time. I’ll be sharing a few of these here in the hopes it gives you some ways to cope with fear and anxiety as well. Additionally, I’ll add some art tips that are helping me, a little, to deal with the emotional stress of having our lives flipped upside down.

First, I wanted to say take a deep breath. Breathing helps so much in controlling our emotions and aids us in mastering our emotions. The Navy Seal box breathing technique is especially helpful for everyone. Give your self some time to practice this several times a day and you will notice a big improvement in how you process your thoughts and relationship interactions will benefit as well.

My second suggestion is to do the basic routines of every day life. Shower, eat breakfast/exercise, do some chores/work, get outside/by a window for 15 min, do something creative and relax/read/art/talk to someone/etc. It is very important to have a little guideline to follow, even if you do 1-3 things a day, it will make you feel better. I highly recommend a shower a day. This is my standard feel better and it will help you, even when you feel scared. Plus, soap is killing the germs. 🙂 So, an added beneficial move.

I will be adding places, locally people can get food, aid, and free resources. Local food bank available:

From Julianne Pike Luciano: Anyone who knows anyone in need please send them to superior detailing on the Blvd for open food bank and for those who can’t get out send someone else to pick up no questions asked thank you. Additionally, you can find food pantries throughout the area here.

There is a testing center that opened in Altoona for covid-19. You will need to get your doctor to give you a note to go.

Governor Tom Wolf’s website for information, aid and tips during this time as well as listening to his live updates. This has been a source of comfort and stability for me during this time.

Remember our goal is to flatten the curve and get this virus dead. Soap will kill the virus, so even if you do not have bleach/lysol, good old soap will scrub away the protective layer, lipid fat, on the virus and kill it.

Here is a good tutorial on face mask made and approved by a doctor. The really good thing is this is made with filter paper that is made from vacuum cleaner bags that are HEPA level. I’ve made the cloth kind but will be adding a paper filter to create an additional layer. Regardless of what people say, masks (cloth and/or paper) should be used at this time.

For stress, I’ve also been following Marisa Peer on Instagram. I highly recommend this psychologist as she has wonderful tips, insights and years of experience. Additionally, I’ve been crocheting and this helps me to forget much as I concentrate on each row. I do not worry about perfection, it is to get my hands moving as I zone out for 20 min. To learn basic knitting/crocheting, there are many examples on youtube. Here’s a simple one for children and adults if you only have some yarn and no hooks/knitting needles

Groceries: This is a very strict regime for groceries and take out food. However, I really like it as it helps control my anxiety. I would definitely, at the most basic, have a place that is the dirty incoming and then sanitized clean space. I prob take it too far and clean 90% with soapy water. Do what fits you best and gives you clean food practices.

Additionally, I would leave your shoes outside. Wash the bottoms with soapy water. Mop the floors every few days (that is a hard one for me) and change sheets/bedding often (every 2-3 days, esp pillow cases). I found this interesting 1918 news article about the Swine flu and cleaning tips.

I hope this helps you and your families/communities. I’m sure many have heard these already and are doing the best practices of self isolation to keep the community and your self safe. Be well and carry on.

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