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Water cooler: Take small, deliberate steps find your groove again

Taking a few minutes away from your computer and to yourself each day is a great way to ease stress. (Shutterstock)
Taking a few minutes away from your computer and to yourself each day is a great way to ease stress. (Shutterstock)
From staff reports

Routine has kind of become a laughable idea at this point, but for many people quarantine has revealed how much they depend on it.

A lot of people have experienced the side effects of total disruption of routine. At first it felt a bit like crippling stress and anxiety, and over time perhaps it dipped into a little (or a lot of) depression, lack of productivity and motivation, loss of focus – the works. It likely even circled back to that lovely anxiety and stress a couple times in between.

The good news is that first, you’re not alone if you’re experiencing something similar and second, it is possible to bounce back. A lot of people have expressed genuine fear of adjusting back to normal life after this. With such a break from normalcy, that is perfectly natural.

So if you need help getting back on track or even just taking small steps to prepare yourself for the eventual end of quarantine, here are a few tips and ideas that may be helpful.

First of all, don’t overdo it. You may be tempted to go full force into restoring productivity that you might become more productive than you ever were before all this. That is a recipe for getting stuck in a yo-yo cycle of being high functioning to total lethargy, back to being really high functioning again. Ease into it so that your motivation will find longevity and will be sustainable for when you have to transition back to a more normal work life.

Be wary of coping with stress through pleasure-seeking behaviors. Getting a big rush of dopamine from watching television, ingesting drugs, binging social media, hiding in your now-perfected blanket fort, etc. is nothing to feel guilty about, but when it becomes your main way to cope with negative feelings it will start to be more detrimental than beneficial.

Instead of confronting feelings of anxiety or stress, these behaviors do more to numb them. Again, don’t beat yourself up about it but try to transition into more proactive and less avoidant behaviors. Tackle some small tasks you’ve been dreading and feel your confidence return. Or find a way to relax that promotes a calm and clear mind, rather than a distractingly full one.

Relearn how to flip the switch. Our days used to involve many transitional behaviors and tasks. We used to have commutes, dress policies to adhere to, a quick breakfast, greeting co-workers and tons of other small queues and habits that mentally prepared us for the day to begin. Find something that helps you make that mental transition.

It can be simple, like showering immediately instead of later, doing some quick cardio, not checking social media until after you’ve had breakfast and coffee. Find what works for you. What makes you feel energized and ready to take on a new day? It doesn’t have to be a punishment, but it may involve a little bit of work. Instead of trumping up how hard it will be in your mind, take a small action to start the forward moment that helps you realize you might be more ready for today than you thought.

Brain train

Test your knowledge with today’s trivia question

What percentage of homes use a clothesline for laundry?

  • 21
  • 7
  • 40
  • 18

Thursday’s answer: Adventureland

TikTok training

TikTok is having its moment thanks to quarantine. The odd mixture of elements like boredom, family bonding and extra spare time for many has solidified a new internet fad as its byproduct.

But TikTok is not just the family dance project for the afternoon. Many stir-crazy folks have shared their hobbies and home projects as well.

One of its recent viral videos has spurred a new laundry obsession for many by what has been deemed as “laundry stripping.” There’s just something about a pandemic that gets people revved up about deep cleaning.

Laundry stripping is simply a deep cleaning process, but it is effective enough that it has gone viral, branded as the collective internet’s favorite category - oddly satisfying videos. The laundry of choice – those old towels that we all know we have. Guess what, we were right all along. They are in fact housing more dirt and grime than anyone would like to admit.

The process is straightforward – soak your chosen laundry in a bathtub filled with 1/4 cup Borax, 1/4 cup Arm & Hammer, and “a scoop of Tide,” as the video instructs. The TikTok reveals the brown (so brown it is opaque) water after leaving the towels to soak for five hours.

The TikTok user proceeds to launder as normal, resting easy that the filth those towels have carried for years has been thoroughly decimated.

The laundry stripping method can be used for other textiles, but be wary about more delicate items like most clothing. Thicker and heavier-duty textiles like robes, sheets and blankets could benefit from this process as they have exactly the type of dense materials that are prone to build up, not just of grime but of detergents and fabric softeners as well.

To see the video in action, find the user @mrslaurenelms on TikTok or visit

Clean up

By this time, you’ve probably forgotten about all the clothes you own, once indispensable for our lives in the outside world now left to gather dust. What a great time to get reacquainted with what you own and clean out the unnecessary items.

Start by bringing all of your clothes out of the dark and into the open. Seeing the sheer scale of your clothes mountain will help you mentally and emotionally prep for getting rid of some things.

Make this an opportunity to get real with yourself about what you actually like. Play some dress-up. Lack of social pressure to wear normal clothes may be the confidence you needed all along to hone in on your unique style. Just don’t be too afraid of the nonleisure clothes. You’ll likely get used to the misery of fitted clothing again.

Reorganize as you put away your newly-reduced clothes mountain – maybe it’s even just a hill now. This will help you remember what you have, as well as make it less daunting for when society expects everyone to get dressed again.

Lastly, rid yourself of the rejects responsibly. Many charity and donation spots are still closed, so you may need to devote storage space to the cause until you can drop off your clothes for good, or maybe have some people in mind who would appreciate your hand-me-downs and arrange a no-contact delivery with them.

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