In these unprecedented times, we thought it would be helpful to share some tips to assist in organizing your professional and family tasks while quarantined at home – along with a few mental wellness recommendations.
1. Keep your current schedule as best you can. Go to sleep and wake up at your usual time and maintain a routine that includes time for work, family, leisurely activities, and self-care. When this pandemic ends, and normal life resumes, you’ll be thankful you kept your routine.
2. Maintain your appearance. Shower daily (!) and dress in clothes that are comfortable and presentable for video conferences, if those are part of your day. Feeling good about your appearance will give you more confidence and help you stay focused – while also boosting your mood.
3. Spend time outside at least once a day for thirty minutes or more. If it’s a bright day, getting a little sun on your skin helps your body create vitamin D which can strengthen your immune system. Ensure to maintain social distance guidelines though. Take a walk, a bike ride, or maybe a short drive. If you or your loved ones cannot go outside, open your windows. Fresh air, spring breezes, and birds singing can be amazing for your spirit.
4. Move your body each day for at least thirty minutes. You can couple this with your time outside or better yet, make this a separate activity (the more time you are moving and outside, the better). If you aren’t able to go outside, there are hundreds of videos available to help you exercise, and gyms across the country are offering free live classes via social media and their websites. If coordinated exercise is not your thing, you can always turn on some music and have a dance party in your living room.
5. Drink lots of water and eat well. Stress and overeating sometimes go hand in hand, which can lead to future health problems and weight gain. Keep a reusable bottle for water nearby and full, eat good and nutritious foods, and use this time to learn a few new recipes.
6. Grocery shop strategically. The fewer trips you have to make outside of your home, the better. Plan out what you need for good, healthy meals for a few weeks and also load up on versatile pantry staples. Make sure to include sweet or savory treats that can work as an at-home pick-me-up or group activity (i.e. ice cream sundae bar, blind taste tests of different brands, waffle or pancake toppings bar, or even cupcake decorating). Scientists are saying that grocery delivery or pick-up is less risky than doing the shopping yourself, so take advantage of those services, if available.
7. Create a dedicated space for your work…one that is quiet and free from distractions. If you have a desk at home, or even a kitchen or coffee table, we recommend organizing your home work area similar to your workspace in your office. If you don’t have a space with a door, find a way to notify your housemates when you cannot be disturbed. For example, fold a red and green piece of construction paper in half to form a tent. If the red tent is on your desk, you cannot be disturbed. The green tent means you’re all ears!
8. If you have little ones at home, create a dedicated space for them to focus on their schoolwork. This space should be quiet and free from distractions. For those of you with multiple children, create separate spaces for them to do their work (you’ll thank us for this). You’ll also want to prepare a daily schedule for each child that includes time for schoolwork, reading, recess or outside time, creative time, and free time. Bonus points if you have your children create their own schedules with a few parameters provided by you.
9. Spend time playing with your little ones. Children do not understand the complexity of the times we are in and only know that their routines have drastically changed overnight. They miss their friends, they miss their teachers, they miss their sports teams, and much more. They will seek out your attention in many ways, including requests to play. Play is therapeutic and helpful for children. Play is an outlet for little ones to process what is happening around them, and they are having to process quite a bit right now.
10. Give everyone a little extra slack, and provide a retreat space. Recognize that these are challenging times for everyone and that staying inside for long periods of time can sometimes bring out the worst in all of us. Each person in your home will likely have moments when they are not at their best, and that is ok. Don’t hold grudges. When tension arises, encourage your family members to utilize their retreat space and focus on something positive such as music, a hobby, television show, etc.
11. Limit social media and discussion about the pandemic. You can find a lot of information everywhere you turn, and the situation is changing rapidly. Oftentimes, the information can be alarming and negatively skewed, and consuming too much of this will impact your mental wellness. Seek out a few trusted sources that you can check in with but limit it to a few times per day for just a few minutes.
12. Find something you can control and OWN it! When we are feeling overwhelmed, it can help our mental clarity and wellness to control our little piece of the world. Clean out a closet, organize your pantry, clean out toys, or wash your car. Normal activities like this go a long way with helping you to stay grounded and feel in control.
13. Stay connected while staying apart. Social distancing does not mean relationship distancing. While we are all isolated at home, use technology like FaceTime and video chats to help stay connected with loved ones. Try a Houseparty Video Chat with friends. Call or check-in with older relatives to see if there’s anything you can do – and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. Remember that we’re all in this together – even though we’re apart.
14. Recognize that some days, you may not be able to do it all. We are going to be temporarily living with a new and challenging demand of meeting work deadlines, homeschooling children, and maintaining a clean and healthy home, while creating a lot of entertainment and caring for everyone’s emotional well-being. This is HARD. But, you’ve got this. Prioritize your days to ensure you take care of the things that matter most – and, know that there’s always tomorrow.
15. Find humor…after all, laughter is the best medicine. Sometimes in challenging times, we may believe or be led to believe that we can’t feel happy or laugh because others may find it insensitive. We are here to tell you that you have every right to feel alllll the feelings – sadness, happiness, anger, and everything in between. We are all navigating these rough waters together.
16. Seek out the good and celebrate the helpers. The world is a little scary right now, for all of us. There are hundreds, if not thousands of stories out there of humans helping humans, and we encourage you to fill your cup up with those stories. Your soul will thank you.
17. Finally, as often as you can, remind yourself that this is temporary. Right now, it feels like this pandemic may never end, but it will. We are all in a season of life we never imagined we’d experience, but it is not permanent, and we will return to a world where we are free to go places as we wish, busy with our normal routine, and together with our family, friends, and coworkers.
We are all in this together. We will get through this, and we will be stronger for it. We hope you found these tips and recommendations helpful as you continue navigating #StayingAtHome.
Dr. Margie Donlon, Psychologist
Melissa Anderson, Consultant and Mother of Four Little Humans