Hello Members and Friends –
Dealing with the precautions and predictions of this pandemic reminds me of the drive home from a family vacation. The drive to the vacation is filled with excitement and anticipation. But coming home is different. You do everything to make it as smooth and painless as possible – pack the car in an orderly fashion, fix lunches and snacks, have books, games, ipads at hand for little travelers in the car, fill the tank with gas, double-check Google Maps for the best route and take-off. The first hour or two is bearable, but reality settles in when you realize you have another five hours to go and the planned activities and distractions for the kids are no longer effective, someone needs a rest stop, your back is starting to hurt and oh yeah, when you get home the vacation is officially over.
Many of us may be starting to hit the “2-hour mark” where it becomes clear there’s still a long way to go on this “trip” and fatigue may be starting to creep in. Experts say we still have not reached the apex of the pandemic which could be one to three weeks away. So, it’s more important than ever to remember the destination – home. Home is our daily way of life, the people and routines our lives are structured around. We know we’ll get there, but it will take time and patience so there’s nothing to do but settle in. Let’s not grow weary. Adaptability, perspective and resilience are key. Just like when in the car on that trip – you get creative and find new ways to keep the kids entertained; and you start to appreciate home in new ways; or you stumble upon a new, interesting town with that unexpected rest stop. So, I encourage us to push over the hump that may be in front of us and get as comfortable as we can for the remainder of this journey. Here are some things that I believe are critical to a successful trip, so you not only enjoy the ride as much as possible, but are ready to go physically, mentally, and emotionally when you arrive home.
· Have a schedule and routine for your day.
All though this most likely looks different these days, establish a consistent wake-up/bedtime, meal times, work/school time, activity time, leisure time, and overall goals for the day. This will help prevent falling into a malaise where time passes and productivity/purpose is lost. Ensure this schedule is not only right for you, but supportive of the others in your household as well.
· Define a work and school/learning space in your home that is separate from leisure, recreational, and eating space.
Re-imagine that guest room or “lost corner” in your home to become your work and learning space during this time. Now, more than ever, it is important to have boundaries between work activities and home activities to enhance productivity, limit distractions, and be available for your family. When you’re in your newly constructed workspace you are at work or at school. When you come out, you’re at home. This will help achieve a healthy balance between work and play.
· Practice gratitude.
It’s easy to get caught-up in all the things we don’t have right now or that have been “taken away” from us due to the virus. But there are so many everyday things to be grateful for and it is critical to identify these. Start each morning by simply jotting down 1 thing that you are grateful for (Mine today was being able to take my daughter on a scooter ride each morning this week). Gratitude is an antidote to worry and despair.
· Move your body consistently throughout the day.
If it wasn’t hard enough before, it’s even more difficult now. We’re sitting in chairs staring at computers to accomplish just about everything now. If you’re not intentional about breaking up that time sitting in front of a screen it will take a toll. Set an alarm for every 30 minutes while you’re working to move for 2 minutes. You can walk a lap around your house or do 10 – 20 of any of these exercises: push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges, jumping jacks, dips, plank hold, wall sit. If you are spending even 5 hours a day working from home, incorporating this will add-up to 20 minutes of physical activity a day!
· Eat meals, not snacks.
Being inside at home, with constant access to the kitchen, can make it easy to just keep nibbling throughout the course of the day. Before you know it, you’ve consumed too many “empty calories” and aren’t giving your body a chance to digest or get the appropriate nutrients. Try to stick to eating 2 – 3 meals at consistent times consisting of primarily whole foods to fuel your body and keep you full. To help keep snack cravings at bay, sip on tea, seltzer, or water with lemon and you will find the urge typically passes.
· Connect with friends and loved ones.
First and foremost, embrace having more time with your immediate family who lives under the same roof. Check in with your loved one to see how they’re handling the crisis. We often find ourselves saying we wish we had more time to spend with our families, and now we do. Sit down together for meals, play games, go for walks, play in the yard, and talk! Go old school and write a hand-written letter to a neighbor or friend in another state. Go new school and partake in your church’s virtual worship service or Facetime with a family member you can’t see right now. Bottom – line, keep your relationships active and well. This is possibly the most critical element to overall well-being and longevity.
· Get fresh air and sunlight/Vitamin D.
Thank goodness Spring is on the horizon and the weather is supportive of getting outside. If you’re not careful, the entire day can go by being cooped up and entangled in a “virtual world.” There are studies that are beginning to show how spending time in nature can have a positive impact on mood (which we all need right now). Also, vitamin D is critical to bone health, but you can only get it from a limited number of food sources and sunlight. So, you can see how spending some time outdoors each day has multiple physical and mental health benefits.
· Learn something new or reconnect with a dormant skill or passion. Organizations everywhere are providing content around every subject matter imaginable to stay relevant while also genuinely looking to help people through this time. It can be overwhelming but, choose a point of interest and start going down the rabbit hole. Or, pull out that sketch pad if you were an artist back in the day or musical instrument that you played when you were younger, but now have shoved in the back of your closet. Whatever it is, it’s important to keep yourself stimulated in an area outside of the responsibilities you have to work, or your kids have to school. Again, there’s no better time take some action on these things that you’ve been putting off for, “someday when…”
· Stay informed, but don’t get sucked-in.
Life as we know it is changing minute to minute and there is important information we need to keep up with. News outlets however, are looking for ratings and the overall spin can be very negative and designed to leave you with FOMO if you don’t stay tuned in throughout the entire day. This will lead to depression! I recommend finding your trusted source and taking in a daily update after being awake for at least one hour. Of course, some jobs may require you track a little closer, but really try to limit it to the minimum. Because the reality is you will experience FOMO…you’ll miss out on your life that is happening right now, in this very moment, right in front of you.
· Get good sleep (shut-down electronics).
Nothing impacts health and well-being more than good quality sleep. Nothing disrupts sleep more than stress and anxiety. The blue light from all the screens we are now staring at for the better part of the day cause the stress hormone cortisol to be released in our bodies. Additionally, as noted in the topic above, the majority of content we’re consuming through our devices is doom and gloom. So, making a conscious effort to shut-down phones, laptops, and other electronic devices one hour before bed, and even going a step further and keeping them out of the bedroom, will promote a much more restful and restorative sleep.
So, take from this what you will. I understand that every person and every situation is different and there is not a magic solution for what we’re being dealt. And there are definitely some who are dealing harder than others. But again, we’re all on this journey together and hopefully we will arrive home in good health and strong spirits.
Stay active and be well!
Yours in good health,
Ian Yorty Executive Director