Assume that our physical distancing and staying or working at home could continue for awhile. I wanted to share some appreciation ideas and also limits to protect your psyche and your time.
You might think of our situation in this way:
When my dad had a heart attack and quadruple bypass within 3 days of each other, in 2011, we all came together to the hospital. We gave up the rest of our lives, for the most part. My psychologist sister-in-law commented, and I’ll never forget this wise advice: “This is not sustainable. You’ll burn out. Set some limits. Take care of yourself. Be ready for the next phase of care. “
When we are in crisis, we need to look for signs of how we can control or manage part of our lives. It’s hard to look for appreciation at this stage. So much going on around us is out of our control. This makes us feel better in different ways for each of us.
How are YOU are doing at home. How are you and your family feeling? How are you dealing with kids/young adults/older parents/spouse all under the same roof? Are you getting food? Pharmacy needs? Taking care of each other?
It’s these kind of limits and routines which can give you some control over your world – first things first. And there is some appreciation even during the crisis stage, but more comes later.
- Establish regular working hours and then STOP.
- Keep to your regular family times as you’ve always done — and maybe add in one break during the day, like at lunch, to acknowledge you can be freer with your time and this is part of the appreciation or side benefits.
- Set a routine in the morning, as close as you can to what you’ve always done. Appreciate routines. Normalcy supports calm, whatever your normal is.
- Get what you need. Start figuring out what happens next and how to prepare for that (products, food, etc.)
- Watch your bills. Don’t get hit with late fees because you strayed from your normal bill paying routine. If you can’t make the bills, call the company. Reach out.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate. As dad was in ICU, we held a family meeting (many). We started figuring out “what’s next,” and who would do what. We educated ourselves on what happened and what his next steps were …. as we are doing with the Coronavirus.
- As much as I wanted to continue my exercise routine, my mind and heart were overwhelmed, which I imagine yours have been at some point recently. A “limit” I gave myself was (a) give up on exercise for now (b) start thinking about when I could get back to a little bit of it. Not the old routine, but just a little. I did the same in grad school; I’d been on a 6 day exercise routine for 45-60 minutes and that wasn’t sustainable. I cut it back to 45 minutes, ideally 3 times a week. A limit can be what you DO or DON’T consider doing.
I liken this phase to when dad went into rehab for awhile. Or in grad school, after I’d taken a course or two and began to understand how to manage my school/home/work all together. Or now, after being at home for awhile, both of us working + dog, Mr. Malik.
There are occasional waves to deal with. We work them through. We know this is going to be a time for recalibrating and figuring out to sustain ourselves, our lives, our social connections (proven to decrease the sadness if not depression of social isolation). We can begin appreciation for small things.
As we recalibrate:
- When is fun time? If we’ve now got the basics mostly in place, what about fun? There are plenty of ideas on Facebook, so keep a notebook or a phone note of these ideas (I keep them on a new Trello board). This reminds me of when I was a child and I’d say to my mother (often): “What can I do? I’m bored.” Keep your list, your index card box of ideas, a notebook of movies, activities, books, walks to take, people to virtually meet up with. Conduct your life, but differently. The limit here is how much you work; limit it so you have fun times and if you need to, schedule the fun times so you’re sure they happen. This will resonate with those who have ADHD.
- How often will you shop?
- How much will you set as a monthly limit for online purchases? We aren’t going out to eat so this month’s expenses will be far lower …. but I’ve noticed in me a desire to “go shopping.” For clothes, things we’ve wanted to get around the house, etc. Set a limit. Even if you’re crazy busy working. Who knows what happens next week or month?
- Movement: Work into your days whatever you used to have: yoga, meditation, movement/exercise. If you used to go to a gym, there are plenty of videos to help you get some sort of exercise until you can get back; don’t just stop, because you’ll be pretty upset with yourself and the habit will be as usual difficult to start up again. Do something, even if it is not the same exact type of exercise.
- What special things can you do for your family, spouse, older parents? When dad was in rehab, he needed tied sneakers to practice walking we bought him some fun, orange and red sneakers (thinking that would make exercise more fun!). Can you send cards to your older parent each week? Call him/her more often? Older parents are scared; will they ever see their children again? Their grandchildren? This one’s all about appreciation and empathy for others.
- What could you do, if this is possible for you, to assist, donate time, funds or otherwise support people at the front lines of this pandemic?
As We Move through This
- As we move through this, notice what feels good: pace of work, amount of family time, time with your spouse, how chores are divied up. How much of that could you try to keep once we are out the other end of this, whenever that is? Or maybe …. make them habits now, to be continued.
- How are you feeling about being inside often? What does that say for your future? What are you appreciating?
- How do you feel about working from home? Could this change what your company allows? Would you change jobs for this lifestyle?
- How has your self-employed business changed? How are you doing business now versus a few months ago? Have you become creative in some way you’d like to continue?
- What new talents did you discover about yourself or your family? Business or personal?
- What has happened to your spirituality during this time, however you define it?
- How comfortable were you with “not knowing?” How did you get better at it as time went along?
- Appreciation for social connections; how has this changed?
Wishing you health. Peace. Moments of joy. Times of social interaction. Reflection time.
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