Updated: May 20, 2020
These are strange, uncertain times. I am living in self isolation in Switzerland - in the heart of the new epicentre, and it is scary. I hate being so far away from my family, I hate not knowing how long it is going to be. I'm trying so hard to be chill for my kids, while also trying to figure out homeschooling because I believe they will be off school to the end of the year. There are times when I am nearly paralyzed by the amount we don't know, and the terror of living in dangerous times.
However, I already was a stay at home parent with generalized anxiety before the world started to implode, so I kind of feel like I've been preparing for this for YEARS.
Maintaining your health, work and sanity when you are WFH or home schooling is necessary, so let's make that happen! So here are my tips to maintain a modicum of normalcy when everyone has lost their heads around you. Because keeping your shit together right now is essential.
Top Ten Tips on Keeping Your Shit Together During the Pandemic
1. Maintain your normal sleep schedule
Sleeping in can be so tempting, but it's easy to get lost in a weird sleep schedule that involves staying up way to late, sleeping in far too long and becoming unproductive. Also, sleeping too much can encourage depression, which is not helpful. Try to stay up during daylight hours, and soak up all that healing light and vitamin D that you can.
2. Drink lots of water and tea
Keep hydrated and healthy! Lovely herbal teas can also provide calming benefits - my tea obsession right now is lavender tea, which is both delicious and is incredibly soothing. (Pro tip: It might be tempting to reach for the numbing effects of alcohol right now, but drinking alcohol actually increases your anxiety in the long run.)
3. Get dressed
Sometimes getting dressed means changing from your night pyjamas to your day pyjamas, and that's okay. As long as there is an obvious transition between what you sleep in, and what you live in. I'll also share my Mom's tip here - make sure you put on your jeans everyday. If you never get out of the sweats, you might not realize the effect all the stress eating is taking on your waistline. But hey, listen, your weight is hardly the concern right now, and I suspect if we all put on a little cuddly layer right now we'd still be doing great.
4. Throw parental guilt out the window where it belongs
Times are hard. Let there be no judgment on how we care for our children, okay? Let's all just be supportive. So far, for us that means more screen time than normal, and ice cream nearly everyday. And I don't feel a stitch of guilt. Our time together also involves me trying very hard to make learning fun, and tons of hugs. What our little ones need right now is to know that things are going to be okay, and that they are loved. Number one priority. It's okay to let everything else slide.
5. Whatever you are feeling is absolutely okay
These are uncertain times. You might find yourself feeling or thinking things that cause you to pause, or even feel shame or horror, but I need you to know that whatever it is you are thinking is entirely normal. However you are feeling right now is how you feel, and it is okay. There is no "right" way to feel, so don't beat yourself up about anything. You are good. Also, check out my guide on battling existential angst.
6. Do follow government guidelines
Just be smart about things. If you are being told to stay inside, and you are lucky enough to stay inside, just stay inside. Lives count on this right now, and it can help protect those who do not have the opportunity to self isolate.
7. Keep moving
Keep anxiety and depression at bay by keeping your body healthy and moving! Please let me share my absolute love of Yoga With Adriene. Adriene is one of the loveliest people in the world and I firmly believe if given the chance she would save the world. Also, she posts new videos every Sunday, and each of her practices keeps my mind and body healthy. She puts together 30-day challenges every year, and every month a playlist to follow if you're looking for inspiration. If you are freaking out at this very moment, check out her video on alternate nostril breathing. It calms me down every time.
8. Curl up with good book
This would hardly be a Book Oracle article if I didn't recommend grabbing a book. Now is the time to do some damage to that ever-growing to-be-read pile, or you can check out your local library for their ebook offerings. One book I would like to recommend for everyone right now is Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid, and here's why. It is about a changing world, and things become very very tense. The world is put into a situation where nobody knows what is going to happen, and the future seems very fraught. Sound familiar? However, I found the ending very hopeful, and I think it is the kind of book we need right now. Also, it is short and the writing is gorgeous, so check it out.
9. Find the silver linings
There might be some good things that come from self isolating, so look for those. For me, when I turned off every single alarm on my phone, I felt like a giant weight was being lifted from my shoulders. And every afternoon I spend running around the garden with my kids feels like a blessing. More family time is wonderful. If you are on your own, you could learn a new skill. Or, hey, just relax and catch up on the reading and TV shows you've been wanting to get into. Take time to appreciate what is different, and what is good.
10. Be good to yourself and those you love
Self care if is a real thing. Ask for help if you need it, and keep in touch with those you love through whatever means you can. Daily facetime chats with people around the world have become our norm. If you're going a little stir-crazy, do what you need to do to get yourself safe and healthy. Tell people how you are feeling. And tell people that you love them. We are all in this together. And together, we are stronger.
Change is coming. Change is here. And change can be good. Take care of yourself.