First and foremost, it is important to remember that this too shall pass. Although it is an incredibly difficult time period, we must remind ourselves that nothing lasts forever, and that eventually, we will come out of this together. In the meantime, we still have to make the most of our days, and now more than ever, we have to take care of not only others, but also ourselves. Self-care is the key to keeping ourselves in-check so that we can be there both physically and virtually for others.
1. Keep track
It is important to keep track of various goals and tasks for the day or even for the week ahead. Be sure that some of the tasks are related to your self-care, such as fitting in time for exercising and eating healthy. This also includes getting enough sleep. It can even help to share these tasks with others. By sharing your goals with family or friends or through a fitness app that helps hold you accountable, it increases your commitment and can also encourages others to do the same. As many workplaces have shifted to a WFH environment to keep employees safe, it is also important to stay on task with meeting the day to day goals for your employer. This unstructured time period in our lives can bring about many benefits as long as we accurately set our sights on certain goals. Some people find that the WOOP (wish, outcome, obstacle, and plan) goal-setting method is helpful. Other people like to set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals to help stay on task. Trying to look at this period with a glass half-full perspective can help us to make the most of our time in the days ahead. Whether that’s watching a new movie, studying a foreign language, learning a new recipe, or reading that untouched book on your shelf, there are plenty of meaningful ways to fill our days.
2. Keep in touch
One key factor in significantly promoting mental wellbeing is the preservation of social connections with others. Research shows that focusing on others increases our mental wellbeing and strengthens our coping abilities. Now is the time to call your relatives, especially those who are elderly. Check in regularly and show them that you’re there for them, even virtually. Contact older neighbors in your area to see if you can add some items to your Amazon cart and leave the delivery on their doorstep. Use this time to get in touch with old friends and catch up. All things considered, we are pretty lucky to have access to technology right at our fingertips in the midst of this global pandemic. One of the silver linings of this whole situation might be our chance to connect or reconnect with others. The key is to be physically distant, yet socially present.
3. Keep moving
It is important to incorporate moderate exercise into your day. Physical activity releases endorphins to help regulate your mood, and exercise helps to relieve tension and stress. Just remember though, moderation is important. Now is not the time to push your limits or injure yourself by overworking your body. The goal is to stay healthy and to stay out of the hospital so that healthcare professionals can focus on helping the patients who really need medical care. It is also important to get fresh air and walk in an open space while maintaining proper physical distance from others. If where you live is rainy or cold, it is still completely possible to find time and space to exercise inside your home. Fortunately, many fitness trainers and studios have moved online. Some classes are free through YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. Others have free trial periods. Check out some of our recommendations for a variety of at-home fitness offerings.
4. Keep up the positivity
Even on days that are incredibly anxiety-inducing, it is important to encourage, nurture and invite positive thoughts. Find some mantras or phrases that work for you. Even song lyrics or poems can help. These positive words and thoughts can change day to day, or they can be something that you say to yourself whenever a wave of anxiety begins to rise up. Spread some positivity to your friends online by sending a cute animal video or a funny meme. Use the family group chat to lift each other up by sending gifs and virtual hugs. Positivity is just as contagious as fear and panic, so keep that in mind when interacting with others, especially those who are younger and easily influenced. Imagining yourself in the future is another good way to adjust your thought process. Thinking about the stories that we will one day tell about this time period might help us to put it all into perspective.
5. Keep calm and carry on
“Keep Calm and Carry On” was first popularized in 1939 during World War II by the British government to help keep morale up. This phrase still rings true today with the exception to keep calm and carry on at home. Remember that we are all human beings and not robots. We have lots of feelings and different ways of expressing our emotions as well as different ways of dealing with stress. It is important to remember that patience is a virtue. We must be practice patience with our partners, children, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and roommates. We can and will get through this together.
Extra Advice for Parents
Parents of young children face great difficulty during this time period. It is unsettling for both parents and children alike to have the previous routine be totally ripped into shreds and thrown out the window. It is difficult to keep children busy throughout the day while also being expected to keep up with our daily demands at work. It has forced some parents to try to find creative solutions, but as time dwindles on, that gets more and more challenging. The constant caretaking for children all without the help of grandparents, educators, or babysitters can be incredibly demanding. Here are a few pieces of advice to help families:
- As much as possible, try to organize a clear agenda and tasks for your children
- Divide caretaking time as equally as possible between partners
- If there are family members who can help virtually with older children, have grandparents, aunts, uncles, or cousins video chat with them while you take a well-deserved break
- Take long walks outside to help release some pent-up energy. You can also use this time to play a game on the walk or challenge children to look or listen for certain things in nature
- Search online for ideas and resources. You are not supposed to re-invent the wheel, and checking outlets online or through Facebook groups can lead to a variety of creative and simple ideas
- Be flexible with screen time and household rules. During a crisis, one must be quick to adapt and not so stuck in rigid old ways. Children need learn how to adapt as well, and they will follow the tone that you set
- Speak out loud about your difficulty, even in front of your children. Share your feelings like, “It’s very hard for me,” or “I need your help,” or “We will have to stick together.” Your partner and children will appreciate your open communication and will follow your lead