By: Shayla Lee and Lee Tatlock
It’s safe to say that 2020 has been a crazy year for everyone. After the WHO declared the Coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic earlier this month, our day-to-day lives were severely impacted. In the hopes of flattening the curve, many of us have been isolated inside our homes for weeks. Although it might seem fun and relaxing at first, not having regular contact with loved ones or being able to go into your normal workspace can have a severe impact on your mental health.
Artist and mental health advocate Cream with a K (A.K.A. Lee Tatlock) is no stranger to being confined within the small space of four walls. Suffering from Agoraphobia, Lee has had severe bouts of anxiety where she has been unable to leave her home; this eventually led to the creation of her track “Stuck In The House”.
The grunge-pop artist has written an open letter giving tips on how to cope with being isolated during this weird time. We are honored to share it on Femme Riot.
“As you can tell by some of my music – I’m no stranger to mental illness. I’m actually OK with self-isolation because I have suffered from 2 bouts of pretty bad Agoraphobia* in the past (Yup – that’s what “Stuck in the House” was about). In any case, whether it’s your choice or not, it’s not very healthy to be in isolation for an extended amount of time.
*Agoraphobia = Fear of leaving the house.
It’s inevitable that we all are probably going to feel a bit depressed during this lockdown period and that’s okay. I have successfully prevailed in self-isolation for months whilst writing music and there is a knack to doing it productively and staying mentally well.
None of this information is particularly new and it’s all just common sense but it definitely works. It can be implemented daily to improve your overall quality of life.
To start with, it’s scientifically proven that having goals is really important in maintaining good mental health. Our brains release a ton of feel-good chemicals whenever we feel like we achieved something.
No matter how small it is. It could be planning to sew a button on your shirt, then actually doing it. But, in reverse, no goals means no positive emotion. That + no social interaction = very bad.
Personally, I try to make an event out of every day. I write down how an ideal day would pan out in my Hello Kitty diary. Wake up, make the bed, brush teeth, drink hot water, do some stretches, have a shower, do makeup, get changed, eat breakfast …blah blah.
I don’t always manage to stick to it but I have a good template. Doing stuff on a set routine is proven to lessen anxiety. Now we are in uncertain times it is even more important to get stability whenever we can grab it. Eating every day at the same time will help you feel more chilled out too. When you’re already on edge, eating at random times makes your brain go into a survival mode; making you even more emotionally wobbly.
For me, sometimes I feel so negative and reaaaally don’t feel motivated to work on my music. I sometimes have to force myself to even turn my laptop on. So I put on my list “1) open up the session files, listen to what I’ve got so far, 2) If feeling motivated; do some work on the track”.
If I actually do want to work on a track after listening then that’s a bonus. Later I’ll reward myself for it. (I normally reward myself with a junkie TV program, make a load of Keto Pancakes, or play video games or something.)
If I don’t feel like it, I’ll just reward myself with something small like a coffee, as I completed the initial part 1 of the task. You basically have to coach yourself kindly into behaving in a way that would benefit yourself in the long run. Make sure to keep the work and reward ratio balanced. Be fair with yourself but don’t let yourself off and over-reward yourself as you will definitely feel like a useless piece of crap at the end of the day. Setting goals is real long term self-love, and that’s hard because, to be honest, most of us don’t really like ourselves, let alone love ourselves.
Some days it’s gonna be hard and you may only achieve 1% of what you set out to do, but still, that’s a step further than yesterday and better than 0%. Progress is incremental.
I heard that in the army the reason they are trained to make their bed’s first thing in the morning is so that even after a shitty unproductive day – at least when you go back to a pre-made bed at night you can feel like you at least did one thing well that day.
I don’t know if this is true or not, but that’s the reason why I make my bed every morning and there is definitely something strangely gratifying about it.
Stay home and stay safe. xx”
If you’re looking for new music while isolated, check out Cream with a K’s debut album below.