When I started drafting this month’s column, the virus that has now become a household word was still just a news headline — one that I was paying close attention to but not something that I honestly expected to completely change our lives and routines in truly unprecedented ways.
Three weeks later, here I am, on my second week of staying home during a worldwide pandemic.
The idea of simple living is here whether I choose it to be or not.
My kids are out of school, both my husband and I are teleworking and we are only leaving the house to go outside or do very quick runs to the grocery store.
There are no sports practices to race to after work, no weekend obligations — all of the things that cluttered our calendar have been effectively wiped.
So, like all of you, I am faced with how to maintain as much normalcy as possible with all those new worries about my family’s health — both mental, physical and financial in a lifestyle that I have no precedent or experience to manage.
I’m a creature of routine and — as much as I work hard to keep that routine as simple and streamlined as possible — this “new normal” has been challenging to navigate.
Here are a few of the things that have given me peace and calm in the storm.
I hope they are helpful to you as you work toward your own Zen and health!
Be well, friends.
Stick to a Schedule: Whether you work full-time, are a stay-at-home parent or are retired, we all have a daily routine that has inevitably been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Even if your commute has changed from walking from your living room to your kitchen, keeping some semblance of a schedule or routine will keep you from losing your mind.
Set what time you wake up, sit down to work, and make sure to take breaks for lunch and coffee.
Shower and get dressed as you would for work or a “typical” day.
It may be tempting to sleep in and stay in your pajamas all day but you may find that your own sense of wellbeing and purpose may be better served by following a routine of a normal day.
In short, stick to a routine, follow a consistent sleep and meal schedule and add some structure to your day.
If you have children at home, provide blocks of semi-structured time for everyone.
It can be as simple as having “outside time,” “creative corner,” “exercise” and “arts enrichment.”
Schedule a daily phone call or FaceTime date with a friend or family member to add purpose and human connection to your days.
Apps such as Zoom are a great way to virtually connect with loved ones and friends while still maintaining the “social distancing” mandate we are each following.
Mindfulness, Meditation and Movement: I am not very good at hitting the pause button — any down time I have is usually spent trying to catch up on chores or to do list items that I have otherwise neglected.
In these days of social distancing and extended home time, it is critical to be very mindful of what we do in our down time.
You could make up your own exercise routine based on the furniture and equipment you have available, or follow along with exercise videos on YouTube, Netflix, and other streaming services.
Whether you like yoga dancing or martial arts, there are plenty of exercises you can do at home.
Beachbody is offering free workouts for both adults and kids and several celebrity trainers have offered extended week trial memberships (try www.beachbody.com or www.centr.com).
While exercise and movement are proven antidepressants, you may also find that your anxiety and stress levels are at an all-time high.
Meditation can help reduce stress and worry and improve your sleep — things we can all benefit from during this time of uncertainty.
There are hundreds of guided meditations, mini-meditations, sleep sounds, meditations for children and even S.O.S. meditations for emergency needs out there.
While many of the most popular apps out there do charge a subscription fee, most offer free trials for a period of time.
A few that I have tried and found to be helpful are Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer.
You can find these on the app store of your Smartphone.
Several of these apps actually offer extended free subscriptions for healthcare workers and educators.
Try New Things: I have been struggling with finding the things that I typically stock my kitchen with and so I have been using it as an opportunity to try new menu items.
Invite your kids to help prepare fun and healthy meals or if you do not have kids at home, invite a spouse or roommate to help with meal prep.
Meal plan for the week just as you normally would and challenge yourself to add at least one or two new menu items each week — this will keep you from becoming bored and might be a fun challenge given the shortage of certain common food items at the grocery stores!
Try Tasty, All Recipes or Delish sites for great ideas — some even have videos so you can see how each step is supposed to look!
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)