We are living through strange times… Whether you are staying home with kids and trying to balance helping them with e-learning modules, waiting in line to go into the grocery store wearing a homemade mask, working from your kitchen table, or worrying about whether your clients can afford to continue paying your bills, the odds are you are feeling anxious about the state of the world. In these uncertain times, it can be difficult to see the positive. So, here are some tips that are helping keep me positive, motivated and reducing my stress.
- Accept the things you cannot change. It is likely you are feeling the pressure more than ever because you are stuck at home all day to be super-mum, super-daughter, super-lawyer, super-wife/partner, super-housekeeper… You are super, but remember that you cannot be all things to all people, all the time – especially during these challenging times. Accept that you will have mornings where the kids throw cereal at the dog, your coffee will get cold and you will forget where you put it, and that Zoom call will run two hours over. Try to plan a schedule where you factor in and have shift changes with your partner for meals, home schooling, dog walks, and household tasks. It will help you both appreciate how much work it is to be at home all the time!
- Turn off the TV. The constant news cycle, while informative, can become a blizzard of facts, concerns and repeated messages of gloom. Take the time to turn off the news for a while each day (whether it is an hour or several – I only watch the evening news, which is what I did before the pandemic), and remind yourself that we will get through this difficult time. The only constant is change, and this too shall pass. Budgeting TV time if you have kids can also be challenging, so try to turn off the TV at least a few times a day (e.g. during meals, “school” hours, etc.).
- A little grocery planning goes a long way. If you are worrying about getting enough groceries, entering the store, or how long you will have to wait when you get there, consider your risk tolerance and plan accordingly. Also, factor in whether you need to shop for elderly relatives and build that into your planning as well.
a) If you are willing to go into the store, check the e-flyer for your local grocery stores and know when things are going on sale, for how much, and how often/when the shelves are re-stocked. Understand how much time it takes on average to wait in line and factor that into your planned time to go to and be at the store.
b) If you are unwilling to go into the store, find out when your local store is doing pickups or deliveries (most places have significantly longer wait times than normal), and take inventory of what you need and can order a few weeks in advance. If you keep track of what you need and anticipate when you will need it, it will be easier to plan to have it on hand.
- Structure your workday as you did in the office. It goes without saying that it can be difficult to be as productive when working from home as you are at the office. Try to set up a workstation that has good natural light, fresh air, and is relatively quiet. Make a list of the tasks you want to accomplish for the day, and try to stick to it. One of the things I miss most about being in the office is chatting with colleagues, so I take two ten minute breaks to have a “coffee break” chat with my partner. I also try to have video calls with colleagues from the office on a daily basis so we can check in with each other. We are all in this together, and it helps people to feel connected if you can see them and vice versa.
- Reconnect with (or start) a hobby. If you have the time (and I expect many people will feel like they do not right now), think about re-starting or starting a hobby. When I was younger I used to knit (not very well, mind you), and it turns out that knitting has been a great hobby to re-start during the pandemic. It keeps me focused enough on the task at hand – knit one, purl one – that it is hard to get caught up worrying about whether the curve is flattened yet. Try reading the stack of books or magazines you have been putting off – a chapter or article a day. When you finish something, it will make you feel empowered and it is a nice reminder that you are awesome! Plus, I have a stack of newly knit “COVID” gifts!