Over the past few days, we’ve all done a lot of thinking about our priorities. We’ve dealt with circumstances that we’ve never even had to think about before. We’ve rattled off questions in panic, whether out loud or to ourselves. When will life return to normal? What am I going to do with my time? What if I get sick and pass it on to my loved ones? What will we do if we have to travel? Which plans should I keep and which plans should I cancel? Is that a cough I hear? And perhaps most illogical of all – where will I get my next roll of toilet paper?
We’ve started to panic over some of these aspects. Things we’ve never had to worry about before, like getting fresh vegetables or meat, are now concerns. We’re concerned over whether or not to cancel plans. We don’t want to let people down, or lose money, or seem as though we are “overreacting.” Some worry about being exposed at work, and others worry about being productive while working at home with screaming kids in the background. Some worry about job security, and others worry about the state of their small business. And we all worry about how we’re going to stay healthy through it all.
I’m no expert, but one thing I’ve learned over these last few days is this: everyone needs to cope in a way that makes them the most comfortable. Be smart and be educated, but make the best choices for your life and your situation.
Regardless of how you choose to handle your daily lives, you should try not to panic. Focus instead of what you CAN control. There are a few ways you can adjust your expectations of daily life and turn that panic and worry into positivity.
Minimize the Noise
It is extremely easy to become consumed with the media. Reading stories, watching the news, talking to others… it’s all part of the process. It is critical to stay up-to-date and informed about what’s going on. But don’t let it consume you.
Information is essential, yes. But be sure to silence the noise when you can. If your eyes are glued to the TV for the next several weeks, or months, you are missing opportunities to get other things accomplished or spend valuable time with your family.
Truthfully, it took me a few days to realize this. I was consumed by the media, wanting to soak in all the information I could possibly get by reading news stories, watching the local news at every hour of the night I was up with Jana, and talking with family and friends about what they’ve been experiencing.
I realized that it was TOO much. I needed to take a step back and recognize this as an opportunity to spend time in my home with my family. A time to get work done. A time to relax and recharge. A time to stay healthy. I minimized the noise, and it felt good.
Do The Things You Say You Will “When You Have the Time…”
Remember all those things that you say, “If I had the time for that, I’d love to do it someday…?” Remember all those chores or activities that get shoved aside because you’re just too busy? Well, now is the perfect time to dust off that growing to-do list and get to work.
Have you had a can of paint sitting there for a house project? Open it up, and get to it.
Have you been putting off organizing your daughter’s closet? Go for it. (Yes, this one’s for me).
Have you been staring at a pile of laundry that needs to be folded and put away? No time like the present. (Oh, wait, this one’s also for me).
Or maybe you want to take the relaxing route, and catch up on some shows, read some books that your friends have been raving about for months, or cuddle with those cute kids all morning long. Go for it.
Turn the negative situation (that which we cannot control) into something positive (that which we CAN control), and you’ll be happy you did.
Focus On What You Can Control
Worrying about everyone else can cripple your own ability to cope. It can also influence the decisions you make for yourself, or it can cause you to second-guess your gut instinct.
Suspend your judgment of other people and how they are dealing with this crisis. Not everyone copes in the same ways. If someone cancels plans, that’s their choice. If someone has to go into work, they likely need more support than criticism.
I’m not saying that you need to share the same opinions. We don’t live in a utopia.
Focusing on what you can control also means letting go of those you can’t. And worrying about what other people are doing is typically at the top of that list.
Get Back to the Basics
Take delight in simple things.
A great quote by Rudyard Kipling that pertains quite well to this situation. Take some of the complication out of your life (well, the complication that you can control) and focus on the simple joys.
Take a walk around the neighborhood with your family. Blow bubbles outside. Read books together. Learn something new.
Remember what’s important and focus on that. Enjoy life by sleeping in a little later than normal, wearing cozy clothes around the house all day, taking long bubble baths at night, and ordering that movie you’ve had your eye on for a while.
Focus on the basics and the fundamentals, and be reminded of what’s important. Make decisions that prioritize your health and safety, and let all the non-essentials fade into the background.
Do What Makes You Happy
Truth be told, we spend a lot of our time following obligations or responsibilities. These things probably aren’t on the top of your list of things that make you happy. Now that you have time to spend by yourself, take time to actually do what makes YOU happy.
You can’t run errands, and you can’t go to that crowded restaurant you never really wanted to go to anyways, so now you have the time to dedicate to yourself. Take it.
If it makes you happy to sit on the floor and color Disney pictures with your children, do it. If it makes you happy to take out your retro video games and spend the evening gaming, do it. If it makes you happy to bake a loaf of bread or batch of cookies from scratch, do it.
Channel your worry and concern into something that is positive by doing something that feeds your happiness.
It is critical to take time to inform yourself of any updated information. Dedicate time in each day to listen to news updates or read some articles about current information. By staying informed, you can make the best choices for you and your family.
Check work emails for any new policies or changes, talk to family and friends that aren’t with you to make sure they are holding up well, and check your local news for any new changes to your community. Things change quickly, and it is best to be vigilant and mindful.
Information is power, and information will help you regain control over what you can. Just be sure to find balance. Once the news starts to repeat, turn your attention to something else.
Physical activity is one way to relieve the stress and anxiety that can commonly occur in times of hardship. It also prevents panic attacks. There are countless ways to get yourself moving without heading to the gym or fitness class you love.
- Take a walk/jog
- Play with your kids
- Practice yoga
- Do a workout video
- Play outside
- Lift weights, if you have them.
When you move your body, you will put your mind at ease and relieve some of those feelings of panic or worry.
One of the best things to do is to avoid any additional negativity. This situation is heavy. It is devastating. It is scary. The words we hear on the news, and the climate around the world, is terrifying. But, within the four walls of your home, you can control your climate.
Ways to avoid negativity:
- Have productive conversations
- Watch a comical movie
- Listen to music
- Get outside, if you can
- Start (or finish) a project
- Play with your children or pets
Find things you love to do, and do them. Find things that make you feel good, and do them.
Focus on what you can do, instead of what you can’t.
One of the ways I’ve been taking some control back is by cleaning my house. I’ve never been so obsessed with wiping down surfaces and washing my hands, as I’m sure many of you are lately too.
By cleaning, I feel more in control. This is likely an overcompensation of some sort, because that’s typically how I deal with losing control. I work harder at something else to make up for the loss. It’s how I find my balance, even though it’s probably still not the best way to handle things.
We all have to do what works for us.
If you want to homeschool your children while school is out, that’s great. If you want to let your kids watch re-runs of their favorite shows all day long, that’s great, too. If you want to let them stay up past their bedtime or have a few extra snacks that day, you do it. It’s YOUR choice.
We need to be grateful that we have a choice. There are many professions out there still working their jobs, compromising their health and safety to provide essential services, keep their jobs, and care for the sick. We need to be mindful of their sacrifices amidst all these challenges.
Never lose perspective.
And always remember: this too shall pass.
Take care of yourselves, whatever that looks like for you.
Even though you may feel “alone,” you are far from it.
Related Post: Self Care Sunday