Hearing constant information about increased lockdown regulations, the tumultuous economy and deaths due to COVID across all forms of media has been anxiety-inducing and scary. These unprecedented times have warranted drastic changes to save lives, but simultaneously these changes have impacted all of us tremendously. All of this change has happened so rapidly, it feels like a year has gone by in what’s only been a little over a month.

As a co-founder of LUKH, an online rental service for modern South Asian fashion, I’ve felt a lot of stress over the last month. With large gathering bans and lockdowns in place, many people have had to make the difficult decision to postpone or cancel events. In effect, there have naturally been less reasons to rent South Asian dresses, and our business is hurting. This is a reality that many small businesses in the event and hospitality industries are facing and coping with. It’s comforting to know that we’re all in this together. However, as someone who is normally very driven, optimistic, and action-oriented, I was struggling with all these dramatic transitions and feelings all at once. I kept thinking - Will COVID strike me or my loved ones? When will this crisis be over? How will this impact the economy and my business? What should I be doing during these times? How can I stay productive? 

The WHO recently expressed that our mental health during these times of high stress and uncertainty deserves special attention. After reflection, research and reorganization, I’ve accepted the new normal, made time for self-care, and refocused my energy on those around me. Instead of giving up, I’ve found ways to stay productive and also support my loved ones, my co-founders and our customers. I’m thankfully now back into the swing of things, and I'd like to share my suggestions on self-care and finding joy during these tough times.

 

For Our Mind

Create a sense of structure to keep yourself productive and positive. Even though my business may be impacted right now, it's been important for me to keep a daily work schedule that I’ve always maintained. 

  • 7 a.m. - Wake up and work out
  • 8 a.m. - Get ready, have breakfast and listen to news podcasts
  • 9 a.m. - Work time, check in with my co-founders
  • 12:00 p.m. - Lunch, take a 30 minute break to cook
  • 1:00 p.m. - Work time, check in with my co-founders 
  • 5:30 p.m. - Go on a run outside with my husband, no phones!
  • 6:00 p.m. - Cook and have dinner with my husband - screen break!
  • 7:00 p.m. - Self care time
  • 8:30 p.m. - Facetime friends or family
  • 10:30 p.m. - Go to bed

Set boundaries on your work schedule - Initially in quarantine, I would catch myself working from 9am to 8pm and sometimes even interrupting my co-founders day-to-day. It’s easy to work more while you’re at home, but it’s also taxing on your well-being and the others around you, so create boundaries. My daily scheduled routine has really helped me stay motivated and focused because of my time boxes.

Stay connected - Since we’re in lockdowns at home, it’s more important than ever that we make the time to practice social solidarity. Check in on your parents, FaceTime your brother or sister, or do an activity virtually with friends. My personal favorite app to stay connected has been HouseParty - it’s a conference call, but with games and perfect for happy hours! 

Limit media consumption - Experts have been saying to avoid continuous exposure to news and social media that could trigger panic. As a result, I’ve been trying to time box myself as I review news from my favorite sources - including listening to podcasts (like NPR Up First and NYT’s The Daily) every morning and watching CNN with Chris Cuomo in the evenings. I’m also trying my best to not open every article shared with me via text or Whatsapp because the information overload and potential for misinformation is overwhelming.

For Our Body

Eat healthy foods - It’s easy to pop a frozen pizza in the oven everyday while we’re at home. I don’t know if I’m the only person this happens to - but, since my Mom calls every day to ask me what I’m eating for dinner, the guilt of eating poorly has set in. I’ve now been taking regular FaceTime cooking lessons with my Mom on how to make homemade Indian food. It’s a lot, but hey - she’s staying occupied, and it makes her happy too!

Stay hydrated - Medical experts say that staying hydrated helps regulate your body temperature, produces more cognitive clarity, and stabilizes energy levels. My husband is awful at staying hydrated normally, but he’s become especially worse in quarantine because the couch has become his best friend. To solve for this, I’ve game-ified our daily water intake, and I highly recommend everyone do this at home! I’ve put a tracker on the fridge that gets checked off every time he or I drink at least an 8 oz glass of water. Whoever gets to get 8 checkmarks in a day wins. It makes for a fun and healthy activity while we’re WFH together.

Be physically active - As a result of the pandemic, fitness classes have moved their classes online for free. Here’s a free list of classes from Fast Company. My personal favorite free class to do each morning is 30 minute Orange Theory via YouTube. On the weekends, I love taking live-virtual 50 min Bollywood dance classes like Doonya or BollyX. It’s incredibly fun to do with friends or family while we’re all on Zoom, and it feels like we’re all actually together. 

For Our Self

Learn something new - Why not use this time to take an online class or find a new hobby? Chrissy Tiegen has been my teacher and savior during these times. Not only do I love her as a person, but I learned that her recipes are so easy to follow. I’ve never liked cooking, but with this spare time I’m learning to love it.

Shop online - With everyone at home, retailers are offering big sales, as they try to keep their businesses afloat. Visit and support your favorite stores online. Buy gift cards to use later or find outfits for all the socializing you’ll be doing after this crisis is over. For the events or weddings you’ll be attending later this year, consider using rental services and booking outfits now, while dresses are still available from  Rent the Runway for gowns or LUKH (lukhstudio.com) for modern Indian fashion. At LUKH, we’re helping customers by now offering Virtual Styling Consultations everyday of the week (book a session HERE!), as well as offering 40% off orders over $150 with the code LAUNCH40 at checkout.

#Treatyoself - Now is the time to put on a face-mask or to experiment with a new hair color with an at-home dye kit. Try out those makeup tutorial videos or skin treatments you’ve saved over the years. My personal favorite - bake your favorite dessert, light a candle and open a bottle of wine. 

Read a book  - Try setting aside some reading time during your day - before bed is my favorite time. If you're looking for something new to read, check out Amazon's Best Books of the Month, or get a copy of "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng, since everyone’s been talking about the show on Hulu. 

Plan a vacation - Studies have shown that when people have a vacation to look forward to, the act of anticipating that future vacation can help people feel happier about life. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s helped my husband and me look forward to our now postponed honeymoon! Spend some time these days thinking about where you’d like to go next once this crisis is over. You could consider finding refundable flight tickets or putting down a refundable deposit on a hotel room, and dream about your happy future self. 

Write down what you're grateful for - Focusing on the positives in your life can help bring things into perspective during these uncertain times. It could be your partner, parents, friends or Facetime.

It’s a difficult time for all of us, but we’re all in this together. We have to remember that this is a temporary situation; and people and businesses will recover. We will get on the other side of it, and things will get back to the way they were.

I’d love to hear about your experiences and ideas on navigating these times. If you post a photo doing your favorite self-care activity and tag @lukhstudio on social media, we’d love to repost your photo to share stories of inspiration with our community.