If you had told me that the world would shut down and families would be isolated for weeks on end in early 2020, I never would have believed you. No way. No how.
But here we are.
Our reality has been drastically altered in week’s time; our healthcare system is on the brink of collapse with entire cities and countries on lockdown in an effort to stem the inevitable tide that is Coronavirus.
Emotions are high and many of us are faced with feelings of anxiety that hit right in the solar plexus.
But here’s the deal: we are all stronger than we think we are.
There will be days and then there will be days. Parents, I’m talking to you. For those of you who are home with children, you likely feel the pressure to take the place of our supremely talented, thoughtful, organized superstar teachers. Please resist this temptation! The fact is: you will never be able to take the place of these utterly magical beings so please…take a deep breath. Our job as parents in this strange time is to ensure that our kids feel safe, loved, heard and validated.
We are all feeling a lot of feelings right now–so let’s be honest and vulnerable together.
Try this: do yourself a favor and tap into the daily vibe at home. How are the kids feeling? Are they anxious? Give them some structure (have a calendar at the ready for these moments). Are they calm and curious? Let them lead the charge for the day. What’s the weather like? If it’s nice, get the hell out!
Another important question is: how are you feeling? Similar to airplane etiquette, be sure that your mask is fitted and air is flowing before assisting others. If you need a mental health day, take it. Is it raining and the kids are anxious? Make it a pajama/snuggle/book/movie day. Screw it. It’s seriously going to be ok! This is a health crisis, people. All bets are off.
Despite the fact that social distancing is in full effect, it’s crucial that we stay connected in healthy, productive, and even fun ways. This time is incredibly tough for every single human on this planet, each of us with a series of intense moments that we’ll have to muddle through. If you have a community to lean on and virtual ‘hands on your back’, you will be more likely to get through this with your mental health intact.
People are finding this connection in a number of creative ways. Here are some suggestions:
- Virtual happy hour, stitch and bitch, kid hang-outs
- FaceTime with extended family and friends
- Online video game ‘dates’ for the kids
- Hosted forums/online workshops to learn something new
- Move in-person networking groups to a virtual Zoom meeting environment
- Facebook groups (like this one!) sharing thoughts, tips and encouragement
Kindness (to yourself and others)
Again, take it easy. Every single person is managing their own unfamiliar flavor of stress right now. So cut everyone–yourself especially–some slack.
Practice kindness–the deliciously sugary sweet kind–and practice often. We are all truly in this together and we need to raise each other up when we are able. Be silly! Be earnest! Let your guard down for once and put yourself in the shoes of others.
Panic shopping at the grocery store? Look that cashier in the eye and tell them, “I appreciate you.”
Quarantined at home? Put cheery signs in your windows to make passersby smile.
You could also…
- Write letters to elderly neighbors
- Create a listserv for friends for when sickness ensues and they need a hand
- Share memes, gifs and ridiculous jokes via text, email or video
Think small (one day at a time)
‘One day at a time’ is my new motto. I can’t plan anything even 3+ weeks out at this point and I’ve learned that fixating on this fact gets me nowhere real fast. So, what to do?
Baby steps and a lot of gratitude. I know, I know… the whole gratitude thing feels a bit played out. But I do believe that staying closely connected to our gratitude is the key to overcoming the COVID-19 crisis…and keeping our mental health from running off the rails.
So start a gratitude journal. Or consider calling or texting 5 people each day that you’re grateful for. Or create a little drawing each day to represent small things that bring you joy. Pausing to think intentionally positive thoughts and recognizing wonderful things in your life will shift your headspace and enable you to keep this crisis in perspective.
Indulge in this time!
Think back to where you were this time last month. What were you stressed about? What kept you up at night? There’s a good chance that a severe lack of time contributed to those thoughts of stress and frustration. The vast majority of Americans feel time poor, over extended and maxed out. Never enough time to do all the things.
But look at where we are now—time rich for weeks, if not months. Can you remember when you last felt you had an abundance of time?! It reminds me of those moments as a new parent when I would finally get a few hours all to myself. What to do with this time?? It felt so amazing and deliciously foreign that my brain was on the brink of short circuiting.
So what are you going to do with this time? What have you always wanted to do but haven’t had the time or brain space for? Don’t overthink it, keep it simple. Here are a few examples of some of my most recent indulgences:
- Learning to bake the perfect loaf of bread. Here’s my new favorite recipe!
- Starting a new knitting project
- Have my son teach me a song on the violin
- Dig into a backlog of business books that I’ve been meaning to read
- Doodling with Mo Willems. It’s like Xanax for the soul <3
- Exercising. Every. Single. Day!
What have you been doing to pass the time? Let us know in the comments!
Putting it in perspective
We will get through this. There’s even a good chance that our children will look back on this time fondly! Our world is being forced into a hard reset and it’s quite likely that this will not be the last pandemic of our lifetime. We need to assess our environment, remain positive and pivot when we can. Creative survival is the order of the day.
This too shall pass.