Remind yourself to breathe!

(along with some mental health tips + shifts)


Captures by Angie LMV

Written by Jasmine R. Castillo

“I just knocked out a 500-page novel while in quarantine looking fab each day! Waking up every day feeling beautiful, productive, proactive and ready to take on the world” may have been some captions you’ve read. Or something like “I finally got them gains, never had time to work out before! Living my best life inside!” Or more subtle posts “I’ve finally been able to get certified 3 x’s while also taking on new skills” are stories I’ve seen in my feed on every social media outlet.


Success, typically fueled by this notion of high productivity with your calendar filled up, meetings, attending exclusive events and anything that makes us feel a part of it all, has been the catalyst to high achievement and pushing boundaries.


Prior to Corona, I had already been thinking “Is this all productive?” But now our world has changed. And now, I’m forced to really sit with myself, a lot, thinking about life. Being with ourselves in this unknown space is teaching us things about ourselves we may not have noticed or realized before.


To get a little personal, here’s a snippet of my journey through quarantine:


Jasmine’s quarantine life:


Week 1: Super curious.

Work is cancelled for the next month

Created a list of goals of everything I’m going to achieve over the next month!

Hosting social hours, zoom calls, excited to join virtual events. Working out.

Feeling “We’ll get through this”


Week 2: Sharing the energy, starting off strong.

Accomplished 1 of my 20 goals but it’s just the beginning.

Checking in with love ones.

Enjoying long walks + working out (1.5-2 hrs).


Week 3: Still haven’t hit goal #2, beginning to feel a bit down.

Not feeling up to doing much

Anxiety creeping in.

Home more, not walking or working out as much.


Week 4: Emotions driving the rollercoaster.

Starting, taking breaks, stopping.

Drinking more coffee.

Looking at my to do’s, wondering “Wow, a month later and I’ve only done 1 thing!”


Week 5: Lockdown continues.

Companies continue cancelling work.

Unemployment reaches out finally after 3 weeks of filing.

Redesigning my home to find inspo, clear my mind and reinvent.


Week 6: Looking for my momentum again.

Reaching out to fam, friends for support.

More work cancellations. More losses. More recovers.

Missing family and friends.

The journey continues.



I realized what I was going through

As surreal as this feels, it’s a part of the human experience. Swirly, high, low, shitty, unpredictable, and everything in between. I’ve decided to explore the following mental health tips to build a system to get me through.


  • Embrace

What makes us all relatable, connect and support each other are these out of control sensations triggered by our thoughts called emotions. Allowing us to process, to feel, to be, is scary. Instead of pushing back and forcing, I’m bringing forward and facing. Being genuine to myself is how my healings typically start. Allowing myself to go through whatever I’m feeling allows me to get it out! This helps to process the funk, to start healing. Then I can start envisioning what it is I do want. I shift the momentum, from stagnant to moving again.


  • Forgiveness

Hug yourself daily. This is love. Self-care. It sounds cheesy, but when I hug myself a smile comes to my face. Not sure if it’s because I feel silly or because it feels good, either way it’s doing me right. You’re doing your best. Be gentle.


  • Movement

I realized when things started going downhill for me, when I stopped moving. I usually work out, speed walk, duck and dodge my fellow New Yorkers while walking up 1001 subway stairs, all keeping me active through out my day. This week I began redecorating my space and going to the hardware store early in the am. Didn’t realize not moving much impacted me so much. Past few mornings I’ve been going out for walks again, keeping my distance from others, and it’s been a 180. Walks are saving my sanity.


  • Structure

Having structure, as nutty + surreal everything feels lately, helps in providing a baseline for support. Though productivity feels good, it doesn’t have to be our validation to feeling accomplished. The simple things, even just sticking to waking up early the same time daily without hitting snooze, is a start. Even if that’s the only thing on your “to-do.”

Reading novels, checking in with family and friends, grocery shopping, keeping it simple. When I’m not motivated to work, I just start with one thing, instead of having 10 things on my list. Building little by little a structure not only helps to feel good, it helps to break your previous momentum to create a new one.


  • Be Present

Different from meditation, this one requires acknowledging what’s happening right here, right now. Thinking about the future, especially now with all its variables, only increases our anxiety. Practicing mindfulness of the now will help us to check in with ourselves to stay grounded with what we do have control at this moment.


  • Meditation

Morning and night I’ve been meditating. Listening to wave healing sounds, receiving Reiki remotely through some amazing practitioners. It’s taught me things about myself I never noticed, like my antsy-ness and addiction to “busy.” Mindfulness is a term thrown around, especially lately, and though it’s trending (for good reason) I’ve been giving it a try. Feeling things I haven’t acknowledged. Slowing down and processing what’s happening.


  • Support

I’m one who doesn’t like bothering others, but this is the first time I realized I actually really, I mean really, need people. From Zoom calls, Facetime, WhatsApp, Instagram Video or just ol’ fashion calling. I’m sharing what I’m feeling, the overwhelm, the anxiety and stress. Let those you’re reaching out to know that you just want an ear to vent, or if you are looking for advice ask. As my momma use to say “Close mouths don’t get fed” so I’ve been intentionally reaching out to those who soothe me. Also, creative self-care (what I call for art therapy) has helped me. From painting, doodling, photography, writing, any art-form goes. Finding a creative outlet is “Chicken Soup For The Soul.” It let’s out what you can’t articulate and you receive back a work of art that you created!


    • You are what you eat

    If you’re binging cookies and cream, though there’s an immediate gratification, soon after you’ll feel like crapola. Starting off my day with a glass of lemon water and eating veggies or fruits, wake up both mind and body. Avoiding sugar, heavy foods, desserts and acidic foods will just put you in a coma. Aim for a balanced meal of grains, veggies and fruits. And as a treat, I’ll have dessert once a week so I’m not over indulging.



    Final thought: The journey isn’t linear

    The above has gotten me through self-doubt, losses, gains, hurts, heals, feels. I’m still going though it. But I’ve found it’s best to go at life with an arsenal of tools. Life is unpredictable. And what we’re going through collectively during this time as unnormal, surreal and weird as it all is, it is a part of our journey.  


    If you’re feeling inspired during this time to write the next NYT Best Selling Novel, that’s awesome. But if you just want to sit there and breath. Allow. Process. Feel. That’s also awesome. Doing the minimal right now, fulfilling our basic needs, is work. Let’s be gentle to ourselves. Providing you the mental space to gain clarity is how you will get through this. 


    If this resonated with you, please email or DM on Instagram @Esc_Artists, to receive my expanded notes with apps I use to working oneself out of a funk.


    We’ll get through this by supporting and building with each other. Our community is a tight and loving one. So, let’s continue sharing within our networks, checking in, video chatting and having building sessions.


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