How to stay happy and productive during the stay at home order

Shujaa Graham, wrongly convicted for a crime he did not commit, experienced what it was like to be in absolute isolation. He was in an enclosed space for 23 hours a day, only let out for one hour under the sunlight; that’s one extreme case of isolation. Isolation to us means no human contact and no outside world. Whether with family or by ourselves, we can all learn from the extreme circumstances in which inmates experience isolation and deal with our self-quarantine challenge because under these circumstances, we can be more thoughtful, reflective, and creative. Eventually, we can come out with a happier and more productive version of ourselves.

Shujaa Graham emphasized the power of habit, which helped him get through the toughest times in prison. To keep himself sane, he developed a habit of waking up as early as 5 am, doing exercises, and going into a deep meditative state where he visualized getting to see his family again. He did this over and over every day, and it made his coping with isolation easier.
Through his habit, Shujaa Graham incorporated a few simple yet incredibly powerful activities that we have all experienced at one point in our daily life. They are visualization, meditation, and exercise.

  • Visualization can be daydreaming about the day you open your own business or get the job you have always wanted.
  • Meditation is enjoying the ride in silence, just like you are driving on a highway by yourself with the rain pouring and the waves roaring in the ocean. This is how I keep my mind at ease while being stimulated enough to focus on the act.
  • Exercising or even by moving around the room for a few minutes makes a significant difference from just lying on the bed or sitting at the computer all day long. I wake up, resist the urge to look into my phone immediately, and jump onto my mat for a quick ten-minute yoga; that’s it. A ten-minute stretch makes a whole difference in my day. Turn those minutes into a regime where it is only you, your breathing, and your heartbeat. Try it in 30 days and note down any difference you feel.

Keith Lamar, another inmate who survived 27 years in solitary confinement, killed his seemingly meaningless time by voraciously reading and writing his book. Engage in a book every day; start writing down ideas in your journals, create a story out of your imagination and experience. You will be surprised how far you can go engaging in a deep state of simple activities for the rest of your stay at home time.

Over the years, whenever I get stressed out or depressed, I pick up a side project that involves my hands. Working with hands is our natural way of evolving through millions of years. I am talking about taking apart a computer, building a lego, crocheting a cute dress, cooking a delicious dish from scratch, or making arts and crafts. These are activities that give you a clear visualization of what the final product may be and thus motivate you to put your mind to finish it. Don’t use your dexterous fingers to click that like button, or swipe through TikTok videos. Get your hands dirty “literally,” and your brain will start making meaningful associations.

You may think it is a torture to have to stay indoors for an extended period, but whether or not it depends entirely on your mindset. Staying at home in isolation helps people more in tune with themselves. Creative ideas and personal development need a certain level of seclusion. Our mind is too often bombarded by so much information that it flits from insights to ideas without anchoring long enough into one; this destroys creativity and critical thinking. This time is an excellent opportunity to start reflecting on ourselves and generating ideas of who we are and what makes us tick. Limit your online activities and get to know yourself better through simple introspective activities. You will be surprised how much of an unknown territory out there with untapped potential that you already possess. Take advantage of the tough time to challenge yourself and come out a better person! Until everything’s back to normal, happy quarantining!