I’ve been back and forth on whether or not to hit publish on this post. Mainly because I don’t feel qualified to give “life advice” to anyone. I don’t have everything figured out. I’m not anywhere close to perfect. I have days when I feel like hey, I got this… and then I have days when I feel like stubbing my toe might make me cry. But if there’s one thing about this crazy time we’re living in right now, it’s that nobody has the exact right answers to anything. We’re all just doing the very best we can to get by and finding ways to make ourselves feel somewhat normal and happy. I’m using that as my starting point and just hoping that maybe some imperfect advice might help someone along the way. So, here are five things that I’ve been doing to stay sane in the past few weeks:
- Accept the fact that you don’t have to thrive right now, you can just survive
I read that on a meme somewhere in the past few weeks. It stuck with me a little more than usual because it must’ve been what I needed to hear at the time. When this pandemic first started I read all the stuff too about using this time to organize your house, to learn to cook at home, to enjoy your family, and everything else. And probably like a lot of you, at first I was all about it. I envisioned cleaning out every single closet in my house and trying new recipes and the thought of getting this “extra time” to do it didn’t sound too bad. But then a couple of weeks went by and I realized that instead of organizing and tidying up around the house like I thought I would, my kids were home and I could hardly keep up with the normal day-to-day mess. The laundry didn’t stop piling up just because our world was in a crisis. Or my phone reminded me that my average screen time was up 20% and that I spent hours obsessing over the latest info about the virus as I tried to figure out what was real and what I should do. One day I actually caught myself kind of roaming my house from room to room, not really doing anything productive except for searching for snacks in our pantry. My point is that it feels a little like I’ve been stuck in quicksand for the past few weeks. Maybe you’re feeling like that too? I want to get things done, but my brain is processing things right now and it’s hard to find direction in the midst of the feelings. So, in case you haven’t heard it yet – you’re not alone. It’s okay to just be surviving right now. This isn’t something any of us have done before and nobody knows the right way to be living your life. All I know is that it’s hard.
2. Give yourself things to look forward to
You’ve probably cancelled a lot of really fun things on your calendar. It sucks, and there’s no denying that. But you can decide to be sad about it, feel those feelings, and then move on. Everyone in the whole world right now is feeling at least a little bummed because some plans they had were postponed. Especially if you have kids, muster up any energy you can find and get creative and give yourself something ELSE to look forward to, for your well-being and for theirs. If you’ve never celebrated your cat’s half birthday… now is the time. Make a cake, put up streamers, take pictures – your kids will light up with smiles (and you will too). Maybe your kid lost a tooth or learned how to ride their bike with no training wheels – that calls for a party if you ask me. Maybe you and your husband are desperate for a date night? Then put the kids to sleep and grab a few beers and go sit out in your driveway and talk or binge watch Ozark together on Netflix. Whatever it is – plan it, get excited about it, follow through, and repeat. If nothing else it just gives you a reason to get in the shower, get dressed, and jumpstart your heart into feeling hopeful again.
3. Change up your scenery
Something I found really helpful last week was changing up the scenery in my house. I didn’t go out to Target or Hobby Lobby and stock up on new décor, but instead I took a trip to the storage room and drug out anything that resembled spring at all to put up in the house. Heck, we even put up a sparkly miniature Christmas tree for the kids to hang Easter eggs and ornaments on. The point is – you can shop your house. Move things around. Get out the décor that you were tired of before and give it some new life. Because the thing is that changing your scenery might change your mindset. And if that change is in a happier direction, then you’re on the right track.
4. Don’t forget that social distancing doesn’t have to mean anti-social
I’m not sure who originally coined the term “social distancing,” but after hearing it so much in the past few weeks it kind of makes my skin crawl. For me, I think it’ll forever be the word that reminds me of this time. But, it’s not the greatest term if you think about it. We’re humans… we’re supposed to want to be around each other, and social distancing should really be called “physical distancing.” If you’re feeling lonely because you miss your friend and family, it’s okay… that’s how you should feel. But do something about it and get social. There are so many cool ideas out there about how to virtually connect with the people you love. You can do a group chat in Messenger, you can FaceTime, you can use Zoom or Skype. Get your girlfriends together with a glass of wine and do a virtual happy hour. Especially if you have little kids, let them in on the fun too. Have you heard of the app called Marco Polo? A friend of mine suggested it just before this all happened and it’s been a lifesaver for my kids. They can record and leave video messages for their family and friends who can listen to them at their convenience and then reply back. It’s so fun and it has given them a sense of togetherness even during this.
5. Find the happy
A time like this will most surely remind you that if you want to find the happy in your life, you have to be looking for it. The thing is that it’s easier said than done, trust me… I know. If it helps you, when you wake up in the morning, don’t get out of bed until you’ve listed five things you’re happy about. Or when you’re putting your kids to sleep at night, talk together and help them come up with five happy things about the day. The magic of this is that once your brain knows that you’re going to ask it to remember happy things from your day, it’ll automatically start looking for them. You know the quotes that tell you to train your brain to find the good in things. This is the real world application of that, and I promise that it’ll be a bright spot in your day if you follow through.
Most of all, I hope that we can all look back on this time (soon, I hope!) and be able to say, “wow, that was really freaking hard, but I did the best I could.” We’re all going to have good days and really crappy days, but let’s help each other and be each other’s cheerleaders. If you’re reading this, I’m thinking of you and I hope with my whole heart that this might help you in some way.