March 17, 2020 by Crystal
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Like millions of people around the world, we find ourselves hunkered down at home and a little stir crazy. My husband and I have each taken our turns unleashing our feelings of angst about the current state of affairs. Luckily, we haven’t both been in freak-out mode at the same time. We’re thankful that our family and close friends have enough provisions to get by for a few weeks. We now must positively channel our worry, anxiety, and restlessness to teach our daughter how to respond to a crisis and brace ourselves for what may come.
We can’t change what’s happening across the globe, but we can do our part to help. That means staying well-informed and following government guidelines to stay home and slow the spread of the virus. Since our daughter is out of school and we both have jobs we cannot do from home, we find ourselves with a lot of extra time on our hands for the foreseeable future. And while we realize that our situation is frustrating, we know we are among the lucky ones. My heart goes out to those who are sick or facing financial difficulties due to school closures and loss of employment. Recognizing that we’re lucky to be together and healthy, we’re determined to make the best of our circumstances. Here’s how we plan to stay sane, positive, and productive in the coming weeks.
1. Check on friends, family, and neighbors.
I’ve been making lots of phone calls and sending more texts than I usually do these past few days and I plan to keep that up in the coming weeks. My screen time is also way up, and it’s been hard to pull away. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m torn about social media. For all its faults, I’m thankful that we can so easily connect to distant friends and relatives and receive timely community updates. It’s also a great way to ferret out the positive stories that are so often missing from the nightly news.
2. Unplug as a family.
As soon as the news broke that we would be spending spring break cooped up at home, my daughter and I immediately rummaged through the “junk” closet. We discovered puzzles we’ve never worked, games we haven’t played in a while and new ones to learn, unopened Lego sets and science experiments, etc. Plenty to keep us busy in the short-term and great ways to bond and unplug; a welcome distraction from the 24-hour news cycle.
3. Cook and enjoy meals together.
Amid the hustle and bustle of life, leisurely meals together are hard to come by. We plan to make the best of it even if we’re just dining on packaged pasta and a jar of marinara. Those wine club memberships I joined in Napa are finally going to be put to good use!
4. Do some spring cleaning.
I love to deep clean and organize when I’m stressed. It helps me release negative energy and feel a sense of control. Our discoveries in the junk closet reminded me that all our storage closets and rooms need a thorough cleaning. This is a great activity to do together because every member of our family has a different approach to things in our household. My husband and daughter are sentimental pack rats and I’m an if you don’t use it, lose it kind of person, so this is a chance for us to work together and make family decisions about what to keep and what to let go. We’ve got plenty of trash bags and baskets on hand to sort and temporarily store items for donation, etc. Maybe we’ll have that garage sale we’ve been talking about later this year.
5. Complete a project.
I purchased wall décor months ago that has been sitting on a shelf and we also have a spare room that we’ve planned to convert into a multi-purpose space. Every time I walk by that mess of a spare bedroom, my blood pressure spikes a little. My husband and I simply haven’t had time to tackle it. Now we do and I’ll feel so much better when I don’t have to keep the door shut.
6. Indulge in a favorite hobby.
We love music in our house, and nothing eases my stress quite like sitting down and tinkering at the piano. On a typical day, I might only have the time or energy to spend a few minutes playing scales or running through a song or two. In the coming weeks, I plan to dedicate some of my newly found extra time to my favorite past-time.
7. Get lost in a book.
It’s been a long time since I read a book for pleasure. These days I tend to read for information, and I do most of my reading online. We live near an amazing Half Price Books that I used to frequent on the regular and I have the unread stacks at home to prove it! If, like me, you want a temporary escape from the doom and gloom and you don’t happen to have a stack of unread novels at home, most local libraries offer downloadable books and audiobooks for library cardholders. There are also many online resources where you can access free books online. This Reader’s Digest resource guide is a good place to start. If audiobooks are more your thing, HowtoGeek.com published a round-up of sites where you can download free audiobooks.
8. Catch-up on favorite movies and shows or get hooked on new ones.
We may not have sports to watch at the moment, but we have a plethora of streaming options. I have a few movies and shows on my ‘list’ and so does my husband. We also found a few family-friendly flicks that we want to watch together. Anyone else up for binge watching The Crown?
9. Work a side hustle.
My primary job has been put on temporary hiatus and the thought of losing my paycheck is painful. While I can’t change that, I can use this time to focus on the future. Blogging may just be a hobby right now, but I hope to grow it into something more. I plan to carve out time each day to make much-needed progress.
10. Learn something new.
I don’t know about you, but I love structured learning and I’ve got a laundry list of classes I’d like to take. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn a new language or need to acquire a technical skill. Now is the perfect time to get started. There are a variety of quality options for online education these days (many are free or offer a free trial period). Here are a few that I’m currently exploring as well as a few others that pique my interest:
- Rosetta Stone happened to be running a sale a few days ago on lifetime memberships. I’ve always wanted to try it and couldn’t resist the temptation. So far so good.
- I’m about halfway through a Career Development course that I’m auditing through Coursera, an online learning platform offering courses (many are available for free audit) from top universities and organizations in a wide range of subjects. I’ve really enjoyed the course so far. I especially like that I can pick and choose the units that I want to complete without having to complete the entire course. As a bonus, I can also enroll in multiple courses simultaneously.
- Class Central has collected information on hundreds of free online courses offered by Ivy League universities. Check it out here at FreeCodeCamp.org.
- LinkedIn Learning
- Khan Academy
- The Great Courses Plus
11. Take Time for Self-Care
There are many forms of self-care. For me, the most critical are nutrition and exercise. I have always been an active person and periods of eating poorly and inactivity really get me down. Not to mention the return of the hip and lower back pain that has plagued me off and on since pregnancy. Now that most of our usual daily activities are temporarily sidelined, it’s a good opportunity to reset and get back on track. Eating home-cooked meals and completing daily workouts at home will help me get back into the routine I’ve been lacking. Heck, I might even be able to settle into a morning/evening routine before it’s time to go back to work.
12. Be an armchair traveler.
My husband and I have had three trips cancelled between us. Even though we can’t travel, there are ways to explore the world from home (see numbers seven and eight above). Southern Living posted this article on Facebook that caught my attention. And I was surprised to learn that many of the world’s museums offer virtual tours. Who knew that you could tour the Musée d’Orsay, Paris in your pj’s?
Final thoughts: Just the process of writing this post has been therapeutic as we’re already a little stir crazy and I suspect we’ve only just begun. Thanks for reading! I would love to know how you and yours are coping with the chaos. If it all seems too much at times, just remember, we’re all in this together.
Sending hope and positivity your way,