My identity has always had many different components: mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, fashion obsessive, creative spirit. Usually, I shape shift into these aspects of myself one or two at a time. Now, suddenly, I'm with my family 100 percent of the day while I juggle work, homeschooling, and sharing an office with my husband. This new world of ours demands that I be everything at once. It's a jarring, unreasonable demand.
As I try my best to rise to the occasion, I've realized the importance of really caring for my mind, and spirit. In the old world — like two weeks ago — I could neglect one or both of them a couple days a week. Not anymore. In lockdown mode, my ability to help myself and those I love depends on maintaining a sense of calm spirit and an open mind. Here's a breakdown that has really been helpful.
Start Your Day With a Few Quiet Moments of Breathing and Meditation
Do not turn on the news until you've had a chance to have breakfast with your family and start your kids on their e-learning. This also limits their exposure to the news and to your reaction to it.
Control What You Can, and Stop Stressing About What You Can't
This is a big one. I kept going on these negative thought patterns like — What if my kids don't go back to school? When will this be over? When will life resume normally? This is just wasted energy and can really take a toll on your overall mood. I can't control what's going on in the world, but I can control how I show up for my family and coworkers each day.
Call Someone You Love Every Day
I have reconnected with so many old friends and find it so comforting that everyone is in the same boat.
Revisit Your Childhood Passions
Singing, painting, jumping on the bed — chances are what made you happy at 10 would still work now. I loved to sing as a kid, and I ordered a ukulele two months ago that has been collecting dust. I'm planning to teach myself at least one song I can sing to.
Start a New Book
After my kids are asleep I've been trying to make time to read. I find it a much needed break from screens and it takes me out of my own head for a bit. I just finished Nine Perfect Strangers, and I'm starting After Life: My Journey From Incarceration to Freedom this week.
Plan a Virtual Game Night (Plus Drinks) With Your Friends on Zoom
My friends and I have been playing Code Names, and we're obsessed.
If You Watch Something Before Bed, Make Sure It's Funny
The first few nights in lockdown mode, I was having trouble sleeping. I kept waking up at 4 a.m. unable to shut my brain off. I realized that I was taking in way too much bad news before bed, and it was making me feel anxious. Simply shifting the type of content I watched before bed has made a huge difference! My favorites right now are any Sebastion Maniscalco stand-up and Parks and Rec.
Give Your Kids Some Extra Emotional Space
I'm trying to remind myself that this is happening to them also. Their lives and routines have been completely altered. They see our stress and worry and absorb it. I'm trying to be really open minded about where their emotions are coming from and treating their behavior with curiosity and empathy rather than judgment and shame.
Today Had Its Ups and Downs . . . and That's OK
We're learning that "flattening the curve" of this illness and navigating this situation is a marathon, not a sprint. Nothing about this is normal, and we are all getting by one day at a time. Tomorrow's a new day. You've got this!