Covid-19, also known as Coronavirus, has been responsible for tragedy and chaos throughout the world for the last couple of months. It’s not necessary for me to say anything about the science of this. First of all, I have no authority to speak on anything related to virology. And secondly, by the time you read this, you’ll find that what is being learned is changing on a daily basis.
Due to the highly contagious nature of Covid-19, countries all over the world have implemented strict isolation orders. A few weeks before Covid began showing up here in the United States, videos circulated of spirited Italians singing from balconies to both comfort one another and help pass the time. This isolation has caused the routines of almost everyone to come to a screeching halt.
Our day-to-day routines have changed, but so has the focus on habits like hand-washing and sanitizing. Fear of catching Covid-19 from a surface or by breathing in germs has caused us to load up on hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. Might as well throw in there the panic of shopping for the ever-elusive toilet paper or worrying about food shortages.
These changes have caused us to spend extra time preparing – running from store to store for products the last store didn’t have – and also getting ourselves prepared to transition ourselves to working from home.
Time is one of our most precious commodities. Being isolated, both our time-management and our sense of time stresses our emotions. We might have expected to have loads of free time while isolated, but we are finding that the isolation comes with new stressors and work expectations. Now is an excellent time to tend to our self-care.
It’s no wonder that you might be feeling anxious or depressed. The isolation combined with uncertainty about the potential havoc of Covid-19 can wreak havoc on our emotions. While many of us have joked about our introverted tendencies at times, I find myself missing those tiny interactions I have in the world everyday. The banter with the barista, the pleasantries exchanged with a stranger in the gym, the transaction with someone I bumped with my basket in Target. These things are not happening right now and for some people, life without these exchanges can feel pretty lonely. Even if you are sheltered in your home with those you truly love.
The situation we are facing is not a vacation. Sure, we’ve probably spent days on end in yoga pants or pajamas (OK, well, I’m pretty sure it’s just not in my house), but most people have found this a time of juggling. Parents have found themselves taking on the role of teacher if they have school-age children at home. That’s on top of an expectation to stay connected to an already stress-riddled job. Single parents are doing it alone and even in homes with two parents, stress could feel unbearable at times. It is also a challenge for parents to explain the Covid-19 situation to their children in an age-appropriate matter and be there for them emotionally when they might feel together themselves.
There are also always dishes to wash and meals to prepare and clean up. Almost everyone I have spoken with has said their life has gotten rather difficult lately. Those who work in healthcare are dealing with an even more difficult burden. Some people who are on the front lines are either sleeping at their workplaces or quarantining themselves from their family members to prevent transmission of Covid-19 to them.
There are some ways to make this time a little easier to get through this time of the unknown.
- Take a shower. Sometimes getting bogged down in the daily scramble causes people to get lax about basic hygiene. Grabbing a few moments away from your laptop, your children, your partner, and your children’s and partner’s laptops can make a difference in your outlook.
- Get dressed. This probably goes hand-in-hand with showering. But especially if you’re in a position to work remotely on video with other people, presenting yourself in close approximation to your in-person life might feel better.
- Take a social media break. We use social media for all sorts of reasons, but probably one of the most common ones is boredom. Not that we don’t have something better to do, but it can be a distraction from things that take a little more mental energy. Chances are, you’ve seen the same memes going around repeatedly you probably won’t miss much if you get away for an hour. Constant focus on fear of contracting COVID-19 isn’t helping your emotional health.
- Unplug everything. Take some time and just unplug everything. Our constant accessibility causes enough mental clutter in normal circumstances and clogs our head now more than ever. Spend some time with people you live with without a screen in the conversation. Meditation and prayer are great ways to spend time inwardly focused.
- Go outside. As long as you have a reasonable distance between yourself and others, exposure to sunlight and fresh air is always a pick-me-up.
- Make a new recipe. Remember the recipe you saved for when you had the chance to make it? Now is the time to try something new. It’s also hard to scroll on your phone when your hands are chopping and mixing!
- Tackle something. Everyone has a project they put off in their home. When you’re already working and trying to help your child with school work, you might not have time for the closet overhaul or the room re-design you planned. Something simple like cleaning out a drawer or re-arranging papers gives you a sense of accomplishment.
- Take a break for creativity. Every human being possesses some form of creativity. Use this time to set it free!
- Call someone. There is no end to how to occupy yourself during this time, especially if you use social media. There’s a never ending live-stream this or Zoom-meeting that. You can easily fill your day consuming content on social media or watching stuff on a streaming service. Chances are, you can make someone feel less lonely by calling a friend. Now is a great time to catch up with someone you haven’t talked to in a long time.
Hopefully these suggestions are helpful in navigating your time at home. This is a confusing time for all of us. It’s OK to not feel like yourself right now. You are doing your best.
If you are overwhelmed or struggling to manage relationships, I am currently seeing clients for teletherapy on a secure online platform. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org