Tuesday, March 17, 2020

tips for staying calm, productive, & healthy while social distancing

Hi, Alley Pals! Laurie here, taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to talk about being homebound and working from home with the CDC’s new social distancing recommendations affecting so many people.

I’ve been a work-from-home mom for 8.5 years, ranging from full-time to working part-time and taking classes. I’ve also been quarantined for months when one of my kids had some unexplained symptoms, so I know the full spectrum of feelings that can come from circumstances you can’t control + responsibilities that don’t stop when global pandemics occur.

Today I’m sharing my best tips to stay healthy, balanced, and productive when homebound.

First and foremost, actively prioritize grace over fear.

The headlines and the empty grocery store aisles have demonstrated what fear can do in times like this. And fear breeds shame and all sorts of ugliness. So stay smart and apprised of your area’s recommended precautions, but avoid social media for the time being if it’s a source of fear.

If you’re having trouble reconciling fear with faith, I love this recommendation from a pastor friend of mine: When possible, focus on what we know to be true of God through His Word rather than trying to make sense of God through the lens of what’s happening in the world.

And on this subject, my favorite professor always said the best way to alleviate situational stress and anxiety is to turn our focus outward and actively look for ways to help others. Since we’re social distancing, you can order or drop off groceries for others if it’s within your financial means, pray of course, and check in on the most vulnerable in your community. The elderly, the hourly workers, and the children who rely on school lunches may be struggling more than you know. Solidarity and grace are maybe MOST important right now.

Give yourself a flexible routine (and your kids, if you have them!)

On a more practical note, even if you normally balk at the idea of structure (I get it!), let me make a case for a flexible routine. Evaluating all you need to accomplish and then dividing up your day accordingly can decrease stress drastically by reducing the number of decisions you need to make. You don’t need to scramble for what to do with your time because it’s laid out for you.

And if you’re trying to work from home with kids, this keeps them entertained and gives them direction without so many questions. But, again, the keyword here is FLEXIBLE because we’re all about that grace right now.

Give yourself one thing to look forward to every day.

When I was working from home with a newborn, this was the best advice someone gave me. It’s something that gives you life, maybe feels like a little luxury. For me, that would be an hour with a good book, baking with my kids, a yoga video with my favorite candles, or a hot shower with my yummy lemon body wash.

Making a bucket list of things you want to accomplish (fun and work) while you’re enjoying social distancing is another great way to stay on track and keep morale up.

Make space for creativity.

This is not a natural inclination for me, but the second I found out my kids’ schools were cancelled for three weeks, I made a bin and gathered all of the workbooks, coloring books, and play dough around our house so there would never be a shortage of things to do. I also put in a Target Drive-up order for cheap painting sketch pads and watercolors. Doing something with our hands that doesn’t require a lot of brain activity has been super therapeutic for us.

If practical things help ease your mind and alleviate some of your fear, your friendly microbiology student is here for you:

This is a list of things you might not think to do, shared not for the sake of driving mania or paranoia or OCD tendencies, but for those like me who can avoid worry by knowing they’re doing everything they can:

Follow CDC guidelines + the recommendations of your local health department. Regularly clean your cell phone, laptop, and other electronic devices. Remove shoes before entering your house. Change clothes after you’ve been in a crowded area. Take community hand towels out of your kitchens/bathrooms and give everyone their own that gets washed daily. Disinfect soap dispensers if you’ve reused/refilled them for a while. Disinfect doorknobs, light switches, refrigerator handles, and other things that get lots of touches.

Take good care of yourself!

You know the science behind this, but now is a great time to get in regular sunshine/fresh air, leafy green veggies, and plenty of water. Colorful foods (and reduced sugar) will not only support your immune system with naturally occurring vitamins, but it will clear your mind and boost your mental health. As will taking a walk outside or doing a yoga/stretching/fitness video on YouTube.

In addition to your rhythms of prayer and rest, regularly check in on your mental health and don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional if you need extra help right now. Being proactive in these ways gives your mind and body the fighting chance they need.

Stay well, my friends. Check in with us in the comments to let us know how you’re doing and what’s been helpful for you!


Laurie Tomlinson is a wife, mom, future RN, and the award-winning contemporary romance author of That’s When I KnewWith No Reservations, and The Long Game, currently featured in the Once Upon a Laugh novella collection. 

She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles.

You can connect with her on her WebsiteFacebook, and Instagram.


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Laurie, this is such a great, practical post! I appreciate your tips so much. I have two teen boys who tend toward couch-potato-dom. With hubs working from home right now, and with them also home, we are going to take family walks or take time in the park on the days when it's nice enough.

I time block for myself, but what you shared gave me the idea of time blocking for my boys too. Prayers appreciated for their receptivity! :)

God's got us in the palm of His hand, right? :)

Laurie Tomlinson said...

@Jeanne - Yay! I'm so glad it helped! Yes and amen! In my experience, kids thrive and feel more secure with structure as long as there's fun and rest incorporated therein. I saw a meme that said no quarantine or pandemic can interfere with God's plans for our 2020. Loved that! xoxo

kaybee said...

Laurie, these are good tips. I've worked from hone for years, but it was always with the understanding that I COULD go someplace if I needed to. I'm going to build in time for what's important and make this work. Thanks.
Kathy Bailey