In the immortal words of AA Milne, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think….”
These are inspiring words but ones that are hard to live by during COVID-19. The world currently frequently feels, overwhelming, unsolvable, and out of control. Children are attending school through online learning. Parents are working from home and helping kids with learning in ways that they have never had to do before. Both must balance protecting themselves from COVID-19 and living with the anxiety that is all around us.
Things seem dark but there are a few simple strategies that can make things better during this challenging time. Simply put:
Limit your time on media. COVID-19 is all around us. There is uncertainty all around us. Anxiety comes from uncertainty. As a result, we can protect ourselves by guarding our time spent on media platforms. Limit your media time to no more than 30 minutes per day and, if your anxiety begins to rise, eliminate it all together. Make sure that you are gaining information from a reliable source and are not doing so right before bedtime. In fact, the best times of day may be right away in the morning and then in the afternoon.
Try to keep things as “normal” as possible even during uncertain times. Attempt to maintain daily schedules as closely as possible. Go to bed and get up at a regular time each day. If working or doing school from home, try to start and stop at regular times. Keep strong boundaries between your “work” time and “home” time.
Take care of your body. Make sure that you are sleeping well each and every day. Go to bed at your regular time and get up at your regular time. Make sure that you are eating healthy and are drinking plenty of water. Make time each and every day for some type of exercise. Challenge yourself to build new and healthy lifestyle choices that support being at our best — even when things around us are chaotic.
Take care of your emotions. Build stress reduction practices into every day. Take some time to center yourself on the things that are important to you. Build time each day to “take a pause.” Use this pause to breathe; to detach from stress and to attach to your center. Do this in the way that is most comfortable to you — by deep breathing, by meditating, by praying, by doing yoga.
Stay connected with others. Although we can’t be together in the ways that are normal, that does not mean that we have to be completely isolated. Find new and creative ways to “gather together.” Perhaps set a weekly time for coffee with friends and relatives. Pour yourself a cup and use media platforms to enjoy that cup “together.” “Share a meal together” by cooking at your home and phoning or using Zoom to meet with friends or relatives while you eat. Send cards and letters. Reach out!
Grow! Get Creative. Reframe time spent apart while distancing as a time to be productive and to grow new habits. If you have been wanting to try and develop new skills, take the opportunity now to do so. Learn a skill or craft or build a new routine. Spend time each and every day outdoors. Take the kids or the dogs for a walk. Notice the change in the seasons.
Be kind to yourself. Remember, we can only control those things that we can control. Be patient with yourself and remember, perfection is not attainable. Sometimes, like during a Pandemic like COVID-19, “good enough” is “good enough.” When you find yourself falling into the perfection trap, take a step back and re-focus.
If things get to be too much, reach out for professional help. These are uncertain times. As stated above, uncertainty breeds anxiety. If things are becoming overwhelming do not hesitate to reach out to a local provider to gain the help necessary to make life manageable again. Together we can make things better!
Again, to quote A.A. Milne, “Rivers know this; there is no hurry. We shall get there some day.” Remember, as out of control as things may feel now, nothing lasts forever. Things will someday return to normal — even if it is our new normal. Just like the river, we will get there some day.