Our family has been practicing physical distancing for five weeks. That’s meant five weeks of homeschooling, no play dates, cancelled lessons and working from home. We’ve done our best to establish a consistent daily routine in order to provide continuity and security for our two-year-old and four-year-old. We prioritize family time, exercise and self-care. By all accounts, my family is doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing in order to cope during lockdown, but we all feel varying levels of anxiety.
These Feels May Not Go Away
Uncertainty is all around us. With no end in sight, we don’t know how long we will need to implement these protocols making us feel like we’re living in limbo. Most of the time things are fine, but every now and then waves of emotion creep up causing uneasiness and anxiety. Here are few strategies I use regularly to help navigate moments of difficulty that might help you too.
When I’m in the middle of a task and not truly focused my mind can wonder will wonder to fret over current events or missing normal life. Feelings of sadness and longing start to seep in and my mood can change almost immediately. Practicing mindfulness exercises can help direct attention away from negative thoughts to bring me back to the present.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation in which you focus on being aware of what you’re feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment. Practicing mindfulness involves breathing exercises, guided imagery and other relaxation methods. I keep a daily gratitude journal which consists of simply jotting down things every morning that make me grateful. For a complete guide on the different tactics of being mindful visit Mindful.org
If you’re anything like me, your social media consumption has quadrupled over the past month. With daily press conferences, infection rates soaring and resource shortages my newsfeed is filled with nothing but negative updates, especially on Twitter. Scrolling through my phone leaves me at my lowest, but it’s such a part of my daily routine that it has become a habit.
Taking control of my media usage is key to breaking the cycle. I identified users or accounts that made me feel negative. If someone or something doesn’t add value to my life, I don’t need it. In addition to what media I consume, I also had to rethink when I consume it. Bedtime mode on my phone prevents me from late night scrolling or waking
because of notifications. If that’s not enough, I may consider disconnecting completely. In the past, I have deleted triggering apps from my phone and closed certain accounts for a week or two, just enough time to detox. I can always log back online when I’m emotionally ready.
Phone a Friend
Physical distancing is extremely lonely. In reality, I’m surrounded by people, all day, everyday day. An entire family to be exact, but not one of them understands what I’m going through or how I feel. The pressure of juggling three jobs at once (parenting, teaching and my day job in communications) means finishing a task takes three times as long. Nothing gets my full attention and I’m struggling to get things done. I usually lean on a close circle of friends who I see daily, but without this sense of community I feel isolated and lost.
In times of need, I reach out to a friend. It’s important to connect with someone outside the household to provide a safe outlet for self-expression. A person I can share with, free of judgement or criticism. A person who will listen, who won’t offer advice, who won’t try to fix my problems, who won’t shame, but who will encourage me to carry-on. It’s important to get these emotions out, but to not dwell on them or allow them to overtake me.
This Too Shall Pass
As difficult as this experience is, it’s important to remember that physical distancing is not permanent. We may not know when it will end, but it will end, nonetheless. Doing the right thing isn’t always easy, but everyone is figuring out the same new reality so go easy on yourself and practice kindness whenever possible. We need to remember that we are in this together, and even though we’re not actually together we are all under the same big beautiful sky.
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