By Valerie Rice | October 25, 2020
Thanks to Covid-19, many of us continue to work from home. At the same time we, not only as individual nations, but as a WORLD, are experiencing virus fatigue, which is causing a serious uptick in the spread. This is not awesome. Not only does it spell trouble for our hospitals and health, not to mention a return of those mass graves, but our economies are going to be threatened, shutdowns imposed, lives lost, and this miserable “new normal” is going to drag on for-ev-er. So what do we do? Well. Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, stay home as often as possible, and soldier on. That’s what the experts are saying. And THIS expert is going to add another point. MIND YOUR HEAD: BE WELL. Don’t throw away your wellness, it is more important than ever.I can help you there.Follow these guidelines to avoid covid burnout so the “soldier on” step is easier.
WORK/ LIFE BALANCE
This used to be the mantra of Gen Xers everywhere. What is life without balance? Well, millennial hell, actually. And now everyone gets to live it. So in order to maintain the bliss of GenerationX, let’s separate your work and home lives, even if it happens to all be at home. The first thing you need to do is designate your home office space. It can be a separate room, closet, or corner that is for work ONLY. I am lucky enough to have a large empty closet that fits a desk, chair, lamp, and filing cabinet comfortably. It makes a lovely little office that I can shut when I am done working. If all you have is a corner, like my children do, put your workstation there. Once school/work is over, avoid it. It is not to be touched, looked at, spoken of, etc. That time is over. Your work hours do NOT get to interfere with life. That goes for answering calls, emails, working on projects, etc. after designated hours have passed. Your job can have 6-8 hours of your time. That’s IT.
Food is one of those things that people in the US have an unhealthy relationship with. We either eat on the go, at our desks, over eat, under eat, eat only junk food, order constantly, but we seriously do not make it a priority. In order to be well, we need to evaluate our relationship with food. So I am telling you to be mindful. I’m not going to tell you to diet; that’s stupid. I want you to take time and engage your senses. Whatever you eat, I want you to be aware of the preparation process, fully mindful. Yes, we talked about mindfulness before, I tend to do that. So for each meal, observe what you are making. Become aware of the smells, texture, and taste of your food. Seriously, tune in with all senses. Immerse yourself in it. Sit down at the table and eat your meal without your phone or tablet or TV or anything to distract you. Why? Because you need to be focused on the NOW of each meal. It gives you at least 3 times a day to reorient yourself to reality, to ground yourself, and to focus on doing something good for yourself. You are fueling your body and soul, your mind, connect to that.
Also an important part of your 24 hours. Make sure you have good sleep hygiene. Hello, Gene! Haha, JK. Bad jokes aside, you need your rest. Like your office, stay away from your bed if you are not sleeping (or engaging in adult activities) as it will mess up your sleep schedule. Unless, of course, you are me, but I live in my bed because my spine is collapsing. Anyway. Once you are up, stay up. IDGAF if you make your bed or not, you’re a grown-up, and the only one who has to look at it is you. At night, make sure you have a routine. Brush your teeth, turn off the lights, crawl into bed, and don’t look at your phone. Don’t Do It. Blue light from electronics disrupts your brain’s ability to reach deep sleep. So make a dark, cozy cave at the same time each night. If you’re like me keep a nightlight. Mine is a glowing yellow orb that looks like a weeping angel. (Cuz That’s NOT scary, Whovians) But it helps me find the bathroom at 3a.m. without the bluelight. And set an alarm for the same time each morning , even on weekendsThe most important things: Routine, Time 6-10 hours a night, No Electronics. Why up to 10 hours? Well, you know your body, right? Mine has a poor heart and numerous medications. Without several hours at night I will shut down during the day. Most people are fine on 7-8. Nobody is the same. But stick to routine , your brain and body will thank you.
What? Ewww, yuck! Yeah, Same. But I don’t mean go to a gym. Hell, that would be impossible during quarantine. Some people like exercise. Others thrive on it. I am not them. If you want to be all super motivated and do 80’s aerobics, I know there are plenty of videos about. Or do yoga. I used to do that until my doctor lectured me about how I’m not supposed to because my joints dislocate. But normal people totally can, and it is enjoyable. Go for it! Pick a youtube series or DVD and start a program. Or do what I do. There’s an app for that. I have a pedometer on my phone and I simply walk. I walk around my house, I walk my dog, I go extra rounds around my complex when I empty the garbage, whatever it takes to up my step count. It’s free and I don’t see people. It has the same endorphin releasing benefits as other forms of exercise and it is safe for me to do. So no matter what you choose, just make sure it is something you can handle.We are looking for the flood of endorphins here, not Olympic athletes.
Yes, your kids, SO, and pets are up in your face all the time right now. And it’s probably getting tense. You miss your friends and extended family, your space, and a sense of normalcy. I totally get it. The struggle is real. Designate an evening or two to be with your family. *shocked look, gasps* But why? They NEVER GO AWAY!! Yeah, and I bet they are just as frustrated as you are, and probably feel like a burden. I’m talking about a stress-free fun time. We play D&D on Thursday nights and have pizza and horror flicks on Friday. Why? Because I am no longer needed to fulfill tasks, chores are done, everyone enjoys these things, and we all relax and just have fun together, as people, for once. I get to know my kids as the teenagers they are, hear about their lives, chill, and they get to let go and go wild. It’s awesome. Who cares if the house gets messy and loud and there are blankets everywhere? Not me. We invite friends over via video. Video calls are great, aren’t they? They used to be just a Star Trek thing, and now we have them in real life. Saturdays are for video chats. We call friends, family members, and each other if need be. Why? Well, because we can! And in the time of the plague you never know when we will be able to take a trip out of state or across town again. Sooo, on-screen, Captain!
Wait, isn’t that what I have been talking about? Nope. Not really. I have just been giving you the basics of staying healthy and well during a pandemic. Now we dive into selfcare. Sure, there is some overlap, but When say Self Care, it means more for your mind. Here’s an article, and here’s another. So what does that look like? Well, if you read my first article you would have a very good idea of what it means to YOU. That would be the first hyper link I gave you. Some generic ideas, however, may fit. Bubble baths, if that’s your thing, can be very helpful. Not only do they engage your senses but they relieve stress. They also require you to step out of the daily grind to focus on yourself. Video games, if they float your boat, are pretty good. They are an immersive activity that takes your mind off of the real world, as are books and movies. Do you see where I am going? Pick something that is engaging to YOU and gets you away from the demands of today. Not forever, but for a while. And do it every day, if you can.
Wellness is a process. It takes effort at first, I know, and I know you are all tired. But you don’t have to flip your file upside down all at once. Start small, with one idea at a time. In fact, starting with one step and then moving up until you get it down is more likely to bring you success. All I really want is to help you feel better and succeed. Remember when I talked about Maslow? So quick reminder: you have to take care of your basic physical needs first in order to thrive. And wellness is about being able to thrive.