By Abbie Cornett
I thought six years of working from home had prepared me for social distancing. In fact, I was so sure of it, I spent the first couple of weeks laughing at everyone walking around in a daze. I particularly remember my amusement when one of my daughters slept through her online college class because she was sure it was Sunday when in fact it was Tuesday.
Well, I am not laughing now! Today, as I start the fifth week of being locked in my house, I realize working from home is not the same as not leaving the house. While I am not experiencing the anxiety and depression many people are, I am finding it increasingly difficult to stay motivated. My days have taken on a creepy timeless quality and have begun to blur together.
Since no one can guarantee when life will return to normal, I have been looking at ways to combat the ennui the kids and I are feeling,
- The first step is to acknowledge how much life has changed and to grieve what we have lost. While, thankfully, we have not experienced the tragedy many families have had, they are significant for us. My 13-year-old won't have the graduation from 8th grade she has been planning since last year, nor will she be going away to camp for the summer. And, my college student had to cancel her spring break vacation. And, none of has been able to see friends and family members for weeks now.
- To reduce feelings of isolation, I have had my family make a list of friends and family members they would like to talk to and to set up times for virtual hangouts through apps like Skype, Facetime or Zoom. This is a great way to share time with loved ones. My teenager particularly enjoys this. She has set up several meetings to do art projects and watch movies together with her friends using Netflix party.
- Starting a project the whole family can work on together can help to find a sense of purpose. Pick something that means something to you. A friend of mine started making face masks for nursing homes. Since no one in my family sews, we started a garden. My youngest has really enjoyed watching the plants grow, and waiting for the harvest has given her something to look forward to.
- We need to keep our minds and bodies active. This is the perfect time to read that book we have always wanted to or to start a daily exercise program. It can be as simple as a walk around the block or learning yoga.
- To stop the days from running together, I suggest going back to the basics. When I first transitioned from a traditional work environment to a work-from-home job, I needed to find a way to be successful. For me, this meant treating the workweek the same as I did when I worked in an office. I get up at the same time every day, I shower, do my hair and drink my coffee just like I did before. This routine helped me cope with the significant change in my work environment. In other words, if you want to know what day it is, get up, get dressed and find something to do. If you are having trouble keeping and establishing a routine, there is an app called Strides that can help track your day and set goals.
Remember, however you decide to make it through the next few weeks, the most important thing isn't knowing if its Sunday or Tuesday or if you binged-watched Netflix, it's being kind to our friends, neighbors, kids and, most importantly, ourselves!