It’s hard self-isolating, sometimes in the same house with family members who may have the virus! There are many things you can do to keep your sanity during this stressful time.

First, try to maintain a schedule. Get up, shower, get dressed and tackle your to-do list. If you’re working from home, set up a quiet area to work without too many distractions. If you have small children and your partner is also working from home, trade off on child care and household chores. While one of you is with the kids, the other is working and then switch off.

Plan some breaks in your work schedule to get outside and get some fresh air and sunlight. Keep plenty of water and healthy snacks around to minimize stress eating of comfort foods. Maintain an exercise schedule. Dust off your fitness equipment and use it!

Make a to-do list of projects you never have time to get to. I’m going to clean out my refrigerator today — a task I hate doing but am happy to have the time to do now. I’ve cleaned the house (no cleaners right now) and finished the laundry. These are normal everyday tasks that need to be done regardless of what’s going on in the outside world.

My husband and I did our own spring cleanup outside. We have 1.5 acres of land and there were a lot of branches and sticks to pick up — what a workout! I did some of it while I had my dog on his leash. Double duty!

Please get outside. Consider putting up a bird feeder. Teach your kids about the different birds out there. I have four feeders and two suets year round. My clients love watching the birds when they come to the studio. I’m outside every day regardless of the weather, filling feeders, cleaning and filling bird baths and enjoying the results. I’ve learned so much about nature taking care of the birds in my backyard. This is a good time to get back to nature instead of longingly looking outside and feeling that there’s no time to enjoy the outdoors.

If you’ve lost your job or are otherwise financially insecure, I recommend you contact all your creditors and work out alternative plans for debt repayment right now. I’m contacting our utilities, mortgage holder, health insurance company (we’re both self-employed and our monthly premiums are high) etc., to defer our payments until our businesses are up and running again. This will alleviate our financial stress and allow us to spend only on necessities like food and medications. We’ve also gone online and signed up for unemployment. The first time either my husband or myself has ever collected but we’ve paid into the system for years and it’s time to collect.

Pitching in around the house

It’s a good time to teach your kids to pitch in around the house. Give them chores and teach them how to do them — cooking, cleaning, laundry, putting groceries away, making their beds, etc. Get a head start on preparing them for the responsibilities of adulthood. It’s our job to teach our children to be self-sufficient. I suggested to a friend that she have her children help with spring cleanup and she responded that her oldest (high school junior) is a princess and would not participate. I suggest she give her a pair of gloves and get moving! This is a time to pull together and our job as parents is to set an example (and draw the line where necessary). No privileged behavior allowed during an emergency!

My husband and I are cooking again. We have the time now to try new recipes based on what we have in the pantry and freezer. Type your ingredients into Google and see what it comes up with! We’ve been enjoying delicious healthy meals to keep up our health and well-being during this trying time. Eating regularly is an important ritual and one to maintain when this crisis is over.

Being in the house means you can gather everyone around the table for meals, like when we were growing up. Take this opportunity to return to the rituals of a simpler time before there were playdates, social media, etc. Dust off your board games and playing cards. Teach your kids to play some of the card games we played as kids — Go Fish, War, Old Maid. Who thought these games could be relevant again!

I’ve started a walking club with a couple of my clients. I text each day when I’ll be walking and I have one person at a time walk with me (maintaining a 6-foot distance as recommended). It helps get people outside and provides much needed socialization. It’s important to keep in touch with people. Phone, text, email, social media, small groups outside, etc. are all good ways to maintain connections with others and help minimize depression and/or anxiety.

Now, for ways to avoid conflict between family members during this stressful time. My husband and I caught ourselves the other day sniping at each other over small things. We recognized what we were doing, hugged and talked about how to avoid arguing about unimportant things because we’re stressed out.

First, plan things you can do together and apart. Separate yourselves for a part of the day so you don’t get sick of each other! Get out of the house for a walk or food shopping trip. Work in separate spaces if you can. While one of you is working the other can be cooking or cleaning. Divide the chores based on what each of you dislikes the most! I do the laundry and food shopping. My husband likes cleaning the floors and rugs.

Now for self-care. I’ve canceled (for the foreseeable future) nails, hair, massages and our cleaners. I have what I need to do my own manicures and pedicures. I have the time to deep condition my hair, apply a face mask, soak in the tub and anything else that I want to do to pamper myself. This is a great time to take care of oneself! Please take advantage of the extra time for your mind, body and spirit.

If you are currently seeing a therapist please continue remotely. This isn’t a good time to forego therapy. Also, it’s a good time to take up meditation. You can just sit quietly for a few minutes and focus on your breathing. Deep breath through your nose and slowly exhale through your mouth. This will lower your heart rate and your stress levels. Take a break from reading the news and watch a few animal videos (or whatever you like to watch in your downtime). Watch old movies with your kids. Don’t forget to laugh! Humor is a great way to get through tough times.

Please look out for others during this time. Your neighbors and others in the wider community need us more than ever now. As a society, we’re starting to realize the devastation of income inequality. People who were struggling financially before this are devastated by the loss of jobs, food and resources now. Please do whatever you can for others. Go through your home and gather and donate items that you no longer need or want. Go through your pantry and donate food you won’t eat. Teach your children by example to do unto others.

I’m heartened by all the people who are coming together to help others in their communities and the wider world. Look online for an organization that you and/or your family can volunteer with. Please think about putting to good use the extra time you and your family have right now. The best way to preserve your mental health is to help others. It makes you feel good, sets a good example for children and connects us to others. I’ll write about a different topic having to do with the pandemic next week. Deep breaths and we’ll all get through this to whatever greets us on the other side!


This article was posted at the Wayland Wicked Local –>