First of all, this survival guide is not about going back to bed and pulling the covers over your head until it's over. Tempting I know! There will be inconveniences, hardships and loss during these times, but if I’ve learned anything in my 57 years, we are survivors and in many cases, we are thrivers. While my first thought was “Noooooooooooooooooo - I can’t do this.” My second thought was “Yes I can.”
I have certainly seen a challenging thing or two in my lifetime, as I'm sure you have, I’m overjoyed to report I survived them all! And here I am! And here YOU are! This is arguably the “MOTHER” of all challenges, but we are in this together - Let’s do this.
I fear without a plan I would aimlessly drift from the couch to the kitchen and back again, in my pajamas and with un-brushed teeth, then make a trip to my bed and then back to the kitchen for chocolate or wine or carbs. Not helpful! On a positive note - we are at an incredible point in history - to have so many streaming options and multiple screens to stream on! Remember the days of one TV and three channels?
This is what I’ve introduced into my life to help.
- Routine - I believe this is the MOST important one. If you’re working from home or if you have children, pets or a partner, this is a necessity. Schedule meal time, work time, outside time, play time and relaxation time.
- Limit Screen Time - Especially news sites and social media. I know at first I was constantly checking news sites and Facebook for updates (ok that was this morning too! Haha.) In hopes of finding out this is not really happening - it's a mistake, they miscalculated some numbers, it's an early April Fool's joke - any of those scenarios would have been welcome. But alas, we're still here and the instructions are still the same. Set aside a time in your schedule to check the status of the things, and resist repeated checking.
- Little Things Matter - As in making your bed, putting the dishes in the dishwasher, staying on top of laundry. Personal hygiene is especially important, such as brushing your teeth, getting dressed, showering. Maybe go crazy and fix your hair and make up. If you look good, you feel good! I’m more of a fan of the ponytail and no make-up look, but YOU do YOU!
- Get Outside - Take a walk through your neighborhood or through a local park. Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air, the sound of the bird and the sweet smell of flowers blooming. Ignore your neighbors giving you the evil eye. As things change, you may be limited where you can go. No worries, your porch or back yard works wonders too. I recommend several times per day - during the day and even when it’s dark out. I’m always humbled looking at the night sky. It’s a good reminder, we’re not alone in this.
- Lots of Sleep - It may be tempting to binge watch everything now that you have the chance, but that just leads to more issues if you’re forcing yourself to stay up. Ayurveda teaches us if we miss our “window” of sleep we have a hard time getting to sleep when we actually head to bed. I’m not one to judge if you fall asleep on the couch, but there is a better way to do it. My favorite way to wake up is Mason singing Old Macdonald in his crib or the sun streaming through my windows. I still make sure to set my alarm (just in case!) and go to bed at my regular time and get up no later than 7:30.
- Move and Play- Run, walk, stream a yoga or exercise video. Dance like nobody's watching - they're not! So many studios are offering free online streaming. I've found I use the video for a starting point and then move in a way that feels good to me. Staying in a pose longer, taking a longer stretch, skipping a pose altogether. I've personalized my movement and it feels good! The hardest part is not seeing my tribe. I will miss that more than anything.
- Check in with You - Every day. Morning or night. How are you feeling? What do you need? Is what you’re doing working right now? What needs to be changed or tweaked? I find a gratitude list is always powerful.
- Feel the Feelings - Whatever may be coming up. Grief. Anger. Loneliness. Fear. Disappointment. Seeing your income dwindle or stop. Having family vacations canceled. Not being able to see, touch, hug loved ones. Every feeling is valid. Don’t try to rationalize. Now is not the time to think “some people have it worse, I don’t have it that bad.” That may be true. But what you’re feeling in this moment is allowed.
- Reach Out - Reach out to friends and relatives, maybe even those ones you dread talking to! Reach out to those you know are weathering this situation alone. I recommend phone, Facetime or Zoom. In taking walks through my neighborhood I've started waving to people I see along the way, when they wave back I'm moved to tears with gratitude. That small gesture makes me feel like I'm not alone in this. And neither are you.
- Compassion and Grace - First to yourself and then to loved ones and friends, your community and all people everywhere. We are in this together and I believe we are all doing the best we can.
We truly are in this together. I care about the health and well-being of you and others. Though these may be extraordinary times, let’s do what we do best - coming together as a community to support and encourage each other.
This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988