Who could have anticipated that our lives would look like this two months ago? Even as a physician, the empty streets as I drive to the clinic, the closed stores and restaurants, and most of all, closed schools, seem incomprehensible. How could this virus bring the entire world to a halt? It is a baffling, stressful, and for some, life-threatening time. While some people have found new meaning in staying home, protecting people they love, others who have lost livelihoods and family members have had reasonably increased anxiety and depression.
I feel fortunate in this crisis, as I’ve been lucky enough to have a profession that I can still practice during this time, and help support our family. I’m still in the hospital, as some part of my job has to be practiced in person- doing Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS)- but a fair amount can be done via telemedicine. Who thought telemedicine would be practiced on such a vast scale in just a month or two? However, even having safe employment doesn’t make me immune to stress and worry about the health of my family. How do we safely get essentials? Should I wear a cloth mask in public, despite some studies to the contrary? What happens if someone gets sick- how do we safely quarantine them in our house while protecting everyone else? How will this affect the feelings of safety and security of the smallest members of our household, when they have lost their classrooms, beloved teachers, and can’t go outside to play with their friends?
Routine and familiarity are so important for us all. So we have really worked to keep a routine for our family, and I’ve have leaned into my own routine. Routines in general are great ways to build productivity and wellness into our lives.
When I use a paper planner, I have a laminated bookmark with my daily, weekly, and monthly routines and tasks that keeps me on track. When electronic planning, I’ve added recurring tasks to Todoist (and Things 3-I’m trying out both to see which I like better). I have one for the morning, with subtasks:
- Drink water (I’m terrible at this normally)
- Meditate. I’m using the Daily Calm from the Calm app right now.
- Five minute journal- I use the template from Day One everyday, in it’s own dedicated “productivity journal.”
- Exercise- Hmm…not as good at this one yet.
- Review tasks and appointments for the day (Todoist/Things3 and Fantastical/Google Calendar).
I have an evening routine, which consists of something similar:
- Straighten up.
- Five minute PM journal and regular journal, again through Day One.
- Stretch or meditate.
- Read for 30 minutes.
If something really significant has occurred that day, personally or in the world, which frankly, these days, is more often then not, I use this short-cut on my iPhone to attach that day’s New York Times front page to my journal entry in Day One. I have this thought that some day, I will want to read back in this momentous time. My spouse’s family member’s account of taking care of patients in the Spanish Flu epidemic is still read today, and maybe this will be valuable for my descendants, too.
For our family, we have set up a home schooling area, and the kids have a specific schedule, with lots of fun time built in, too (playing in the yard, run-walking with me when I have time, impromptu brownie baking). They do school lessons in short bursts in the morning when they are most energetic and focused. We cleared a lot of clutter so there is not much distraction for them and we have dedicated spaces for their supplies. Also, I am working hard for us to be forgiving and kind to each other. This is a really baffling time for adults, and even more so for children. Fighting and tantrums are more common, and for the kids, too. 🙂 It’s hard to manage stress during this time, and I think extra care is needed to give partners and family members the benefit of the doubt.
We also keep up with friends and family far away, regularly, on a variety of apps, including Houseparty and Marco Polo. A regular coffee date with a friend online can really help your sense of isolation, and recognize, we really are all in this together.
What are you doing to soothe and stay calm during this time? Let me know below!