There’s no way around it — for the time being, we’re going to be spending more time in and around our homes than we probably ever have before. Whether you’re single, an empty nester or at home with kids, being cooped up in your space can lead to feelings of anxiousness and even despair.
Here are three ways to mitigate that stir-crazy sensation and the emotional fallout that often comes with it:
With schools and extracurricular activities cancelled, normal routines completely disrupted, and coronavirus news tidbits seeping into the household — there’s a lot of chaos going on in most kids’ lives and minds right now. One way to combat this, suggested veteran school counsellor and educator Kim John Payne in a recent interview with Goop, is by creating a sense of calm and order in our children’s surroundings.
Payne suggests starting in the playroom and kids’ bedrooms by minimizing toy and book collections and clearing off surfaces to create open space and less decision fatigue. You don’t have to throw the decluttered things away, but at least box them up for the time being. You can revisit them in a few months to determine their long-term fate.
If yours is a child-free home, the same logic applies — physical clutter often exacerbates mental or emotional clutter, and we all have plenty of the latter during these unusual times. Spend some time decluttering the pantry, your bedside table, your closet or the bathroom cupboards, and notice how the sense of calm you feel from looking at these spaces trickles into other parts of your day.
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2. Create rhythms — not rigid schedules.
Creating a new routine is an important part of thriving while working and staying at home, but this is not the time for rigidity. Whether you’re creating a schedule for yourself or for a child, it’s important to leave room for flexibility because right now, our physical and emotional needs vary each day — as will our bandwidth for completing complicated tasks.
Parents, retirees, employers, employees and self-employed individuals alike must remember that social connection, rest, good nutrition and self-care are essential during this time. For example, a daily rhythm like getting outside, if only for a short walk or warm drink on the balcony or front steps, is realistic and beneficial; scheduling a rain-or-shine 5K daily run because “you can" might not be. Getting work done might be essential each day; working eight straight hours is likely not realistic or healthy for anyone right now.
3. Embrace boredom
Most of us — children and grownups — are experiencing some level of calendar shock these days. It could be cancelled dance lessons, birthday parties, dinners with friends or professional conferences, but our collective busyness levels have plummeted. The empty space left behind might leave you feeling relieved, a little melancholy, terrified or downright bored — but let’s do our best to embrace that. Children and adults often birth their most creative ideas during periods of boredom. But even if creativity doesn’t strike, take the time to do exactly what feels right. Stretch, read, watch a show, take a bath. This period of enforced stillness likely won’t happen again.
If you are feeling overwhelmed by anxiety, it’s important to seek medical attention. Please contact your primary care provider or speak with a medical professional using a virtual healthcare platform if one is available to you.