To be entirely honest, I’ve been struggling to maintain my sanity during the pandemic, and I work from home on an average, non-pandemic day. I thrive working behind the scenes in the quiet of my empty at home office, but I am really struggling lately.
It could be the fact that I don’t have my morning workout at the gym anymore, or that I can’t slowly sip my latte inside my local Starbucks. These luxuries bring me tranquility! And, they are now gone.
I don’t have a tennis or basketball court in my backyard or a fancy mirror covered, floor padded, Peloton filled, and glitter-filled home gym.
Instead, I’m a full time working mom charged with homeschooling a 4-year-old while my husband is working from his office downtown.
Frankly, I’m losing it.
Last week I ate a 4 lbs bag of Reece’s peanut butter cups (over a period of a week. Not all in one day. I feel like I really needed to disclose that). Today I nearly finished off an entire DiGiorno. Obviously, I’m a stress eater. I’ll likely come out of this thing 40 lbs heavier. On the bright side, we avoid the grocery store the best we can, and I’m all out of Reece’s cups — and pizza for that matter.
Don’t get me started on distance learning. I’m still paying my son’s school $1,000 a month as they are providing a curriculum. Did I mention my son is 4? He can’t work a computer. He can’t read. Needless to say, I am having to work my job well into the night because I have to go over the worksheets and projects with him. Don’t get me wrong, I love his school. I’m just not cut out to be a school teacher of a 4-year-old AND Risk Consultant with my company at the same time.
So, I set out on a journey to create a guide we could all follow to keep sane during this pandemic.
Create a healthy schedule and stick to it
Waking up at 11 am every day and binge-watching Netflix isn’t doing you any favors. It might be nice for a weekend, but it will ultimately take a toll on your body and mind. Also, if you have kids, you aren’t exactly setting a good example. And, if they happen to be four, they aren’t learning a darn thing watching YouTube videos.
Your best bet is setting a schedule, a healthy and realistic one. Fortunately, my work schedule doesn’t change frequently — conference calls are set, and I already maintain a daily work schedule for myself to ensure I get everything done each day. I just had to add in some distance learning time.
I bought an inexpensive wall calendar where I write out the different learning topics each day. For instance, Mondays we might focus on art, Tuesday is Spanish and PE, Thursday is chapel. I need structure, and this ensures I’m not missing anything.
We pick a specific spot in the house for learning. I lay out all worksheets and supplies for the week in order for quick access.
The key — adding his distance learning schedule to my work calendar because I have to keep him on task and access whatever on the computer if he needs it.
Declutter and organize your home
I do my best to practice minimalism. It helps with my anxiety. However, it is difficult when you have a husband and son that are not. So, I have been able to spend some of my time decluttering and organizing their stuff. My son keeps me busy with his legos and other toys he refuses to put into the right drawer.
Anyways, I digress. This is a great task to take on if you want to take part in controlling your sanity. It is effective in reducing general anxiety. It will also give you the opportunity to deep clean areas and things you don’t access on a regular basis.
Start a garden
For one, eventually, you won’t have to go to the grocery store as frequently for your fresh veggies. In the short term, it is a great tool to keep you and your family (kids included) busy.
This is a wonderful way to teach responsibility. Maybe you can add to your calendar “wine and chill” for an hour while the kids do some gardening each evening.
There is a ton of compelling research that reveals gardening benefits our mental health.
Read a book or 2 or 3 or 4
I have a list of over 25 books I want to read this year, and I have only read, like, one. Shame on me. A pandemic is a perfect opportunity to cuddle up with a book and not feel guilty about not meeting friends for lunch, going grocery shopping, or going to a birthday party.
FOMO is currently on hiatus. Take a moment to relish in it and relax. Maybe learn something.
Write a book
I wrote a book once. I started writing book two a couple of years ago, but always find something “more important” to do. I think I’m going to pick it back up.
But, seriously. Writing, whether its fiction or non-fiction, is a great way to express yourself. Your frustrations, anger, happiness, and/or loneliness just pour from your soul onto the pages and into the characters before you even realize it. It is like therapy without having to pay the co-pay and talk to people you don’t want to talk to. Liberating!
I highly recommend it.
Start a journal
The same goes for starting a journal. This is just a more direct way of understanding your psyche. Living through a pandemic is stressful. Some people aren’t used to dealing with such pressures and might not know how to handle the anxiety or stress that comes from it.
By keeping a journal you can let those feelings flow so you can learn more about yourself and reflect on the things that are happening and how they make you feel. That way, you can figure out a way to adapt.
If you don’t know how to get started check out these eight techniques.
There is nothing better than a big breath of fresh air when you are facing an emotional, physical, spiritual, or any other type of crisis that affects your mental health. There is a reason all you want to do is escape into an open space or long to be outside when you have a panic attack. Being around nature calms you.
Whether you grab a blanket and do an impromptu backyard picnic or just walk around the neighborhood, you are interacting with nature and exposing yourself to the bright, beautiful sun to soak some Vitamin D.
Read this article by Harvard if you want to learn more about how this works.
Connect with those you love
Most importantly, staying connected to those you love will help keep you sane during a pandemic. Close friends and family help you maintain a level of normalcy which helps to reduce your stress level. Having open and honest conversations also give you the opportunity to vent and voice your concerns. Your family and friends are your support group.
During a pandemic, it can be difficult to reach out to the ones you love. Take advantage of apps like Facetime, Zoom, and group texts to keep in touch during these tough times.
The truth is, the world is currently closed. Times are tough. Times are scary. We must be proactive in preserving our mental health as it is our guard to our immune system. Stay happy, stay healthy. I hope this guide helps you along the way.