Everyone deals with abrupt change differently. Some people spring into action, collaborating to make a plan, redundant plans, and safeguards. Others (read: me) delve into binging Netflix and pretending that the world isn’t crumbling. And you know what, that’s okay.
It took me a while to realize that my process wasn’t “wrong”. I wasn’t a “bad therapist” because I did not use the beginning of the outbreak as a way to flex my therapeutic muscles. I felt jealous of my colleagues that were able to eloquently provide helpful information. What was wrong with me that I wasn’t “up to par”?
In reality, the pandemic and associated emotions had taken a toll on me. As someone considered “highly at risk”, I have needed to take every precaution I can in order to keep myself and others safe. Since March 17th, I have remained in my home to avoid contamination. I spent the next couple weeks floundering, not doing much of anything. I felt unproductive and “useless” even though I had all this free time. Now, I wanted to use this blog post to provide insight into the things I have learned in quarantine, as well as a few tricks that I have to temper cabin fever.
Enjoy the little things
I’ve set out to find one small thing to really enjoy every day. Some days, it’s the look on my dog’s face when he realizes that, yes, mom WILL be home for another entire day. Or it’s when I take a walk around the block and enjoy the increase in wildlife activity in my neighborhood. Finding something simple and small to smile at on a daily basis can help ground you during a tumultuous time.
Even if you’re not working; structure your day
One of the easiest ways to lose your sanity would be to give up a routine. Try your hardest to wake up at the same time every day, even if you’re not currently working. Wake up, have a hygiene routine, and structure out your day. Set aside time for fun, like reading or building a fort in the living room with your little ones. Structuring our time gives us a sense of control over the uncontrollable things in life.
Limit social media/news outlets
As much as you want to stay on top of the media and information, it can be overwhelming and have a huge impact on your emotional health. Try to limit the amount of time you spend on social media or watching news of the pandemic. This can be linked to time structure above, but I felt it was a category of it’s own.
Find new ways to connect
This has been my favorite transition of the stay at home orders. I grew up in the time of texting, video chatting, and instant messaging. Talking to friends and family has never been much of an issue even if distance separates us. However, I found it difficult to spend quality time with friends and loved ones due to the distance. Thankfully, technology swooped in and solved our problems. We have been having frequent game nights where we video or voice chat while playing games online. Netflix Party has also been a fun contender for movie nights between houses.
Spend time doing what you need for yourself
This is a big shout out to the parents out there: if and when you find time for yourself, utilize it. Lock yourself in the bathroom for a relaxing bath, take that nap, skip laundry, who cares? This situation is emotionally impacting a majority of the world and you need to take care of yourself. You cannot continue to care for your family if you are depleted of resources. Nourish yourself, then continue being the badass you are.
Have a few coping mechanisms in your back pocket
Emotions are running higher than normal, and most people are dealing with a shortened fuse due to the lack of control over their lives. You have been beaten down, exposed, laid off, and have no idea what is coming next. This is an ideal time to create a toolbox for yourself. Do research on various coping mechanisms and calming skills. Some examples include
- deep breathing
- grounding techniques
It took me a while to get into a routine and schedule that fits my lifestyle. If, in the end, you’re able to wake up in the morning and make it through the day; that’s enough. The important part is that we love and support each other through this time.