“The COVID-19 pandemic really does take a toll on your mental health.”.
Isolation from loved ones, staying indoors 24/7, facing FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), seeing endless, scary numbers on the news, along with a plethora of other reasons essentially justify why this pandemic has made us focus on our mental health more than usual. As a result, we as human beings must begin to develop coping strategies to fight these battles. Some of mine consist of journaling, staying off social media, facetiming my friends who I hadn’t seen in 2 years, drinking hot chocolate and after a lovely text from the founder of Aisle Mine, Kiana Estevez, on Instagram, I discovered a new coping mechanism: Aisle Mine.
So, how does a social platform which brings people together through a shared love of food do so?
- Step 1: Join Our Community
Remember, you are not alone in this battle.
Whether it is the wonderful members from the Aisle Mine team themselves or attendees from all over the country (and world!), it’s always reassuring to know you’re not the only one going through something. For example, in the Data Privacy Workshop presented to us by cyber security enthusiast O’Shea Bowens, I heard other, more experienced professionals voice their concerns over topics such as location sharing services and the dangers of Zoom, which overall reassured me to know that it is never too late to learn, grow, and voice your opinion to be heard.
The pandemic definitely made me feel alone in so many ways, but being able to know Kiana and the rest of the time allowed me to recharge my batteries, and find myself immersed in a new community.
- Step 2: Remind Yourself To Take An Actual Break
Sometimes we all need a break from reality.
I never enjoyed taking breaks involving bubble baths, wine and Netflix. My kinds of breaks would involve working on a productive project, and talking to people to recharge my extroverted self. Aisle Mine’s events, from online Game Nights to Wine Club to Chef Adrian’s White Russian Mocktail Workshop really provided me with the opportunity to not think about all that was going on in my life (and the world), but just to focus on the moment and take it all in.
I would describe this type of Aisle Mine break as the icing on top of a cupcake. It was fluffy, light-hearted and sprinkled with little hearts of gratitude and warmth from others in this shared space.
- Step 3: Remind Yourself You Are In A Safe Space
You are loved, you are heard and you are respected.
Aisle Mine represents a community of people from different paths of life, whether it be working as a Graphic Designer, in Diversity & Inclusion or someone like me, a college student who just loves to eat (and do other things too, I promise)!
Since we welcome people from all different walks of life, this safe space is somewhere you will not be judged, you will be listened to and as cheesy as it sounds, where you can truly be yourself.
- Step 4: Feel Productive, Learning About More Than Just Food
Remember all those free, online classes provided during the pandemic? Aisle Mine essentially is one too, just out of boring lectures and homework assignments!
As someone who has always considered themselves a huge foodie, I guarantee you that Aisle Mine is more than just a typical ‘foodie’ community. You learn food-related things which turn into life skills, such as finding quick and easy alternatives if you make a lifestyle dietary change such as going vegan or vegetarian, how to prepare cost-effective (and delicious) mocktails, the most efficient recipe shortcuts and those are only a few to name.
This allows you to view food (something you may have taken for granted), from a completely new lens. You learn about how food can connect things like family, culture, and truly establish a sense of belonging. It’s essentially a learning lesson outside of the traditional classroom setting, allowing you to feel more productive while educating yourself with these tips on food & lifestyle.
- Step 5: Stay Connected!
We really mean it when we say we hope to see you again.
In addition to maintaining connections with the Aisle Mine team and knowing their messages are always open, we love establishing meaningful connections with people you think would be equally passionate in our space. Relationships are always a two way street, but also, “it’s nice to be nice”. It’s always nice to do a nice task, so if you know someone who would benefit from an Aisle Mine connection, whether it be a chef, a wine connoisseur, a passionate speaker, or someone like me, who was just bored at home and feeling alone, do yourself a favor, and help loop them into our community.
I live by the motto “treat people how you want to be treated”, and I remember too well the feeling of warmth and gratitude when Kiana invited me to be a part of the Aisle Mine family, and I hope you too share that experience with your loved ones.
It’s okay to not be okay. The toll the pandemic has taken on one’s mental health is definitely real, and all we want you to know, is that Aisle Mine truly hopes to be that platform to provide you a journey towards slowly coping with it, one step at a time.