Thursday, April 2, 2020

Some Strategies for Coping with Coronavirus

Coronavirus is a word I didn't even know until January. Now it's a term we use daily, and it sure has changed our lives.

My husband is a farmer and rancher, so he is still working to keep food production going. I'm teleworking most of the time, and the kids have transitioned to online school. We are still getting used to these changes. Here are some things our family is doing trying to stay sane with these unprecedented times.

1. Keeping a regular sleep schedule. We are trying hard to go to bed at a normal time and wake up at a normal time. The kids get to sleep a bit later than they do when they have to go to school, so they're happy about that. :)

2. Keeping a normal eating schedule and eating healthy food. It's been a treat to eat so many meals together as a family. We generally don't allow electronics at the dinner table, and instead talk about various topics. Over half of our food is prepared from scratch, and I try to have the kids help with some meals so they learn more about cooking. We look forward to takeout on the weekends and special treats, like ice cream sundaes.

3. Having some alone time (or self-care). Since we're all together more, we also need to take breaks from each other. Some of that is in the house reading or watching separate things. A lot is outside. I like to run and bike, Desert Boy likes to go on short rides, Desert Girl likes to walk the dogs, and my husband simply does a lot of work alone. It seems like we all need some alone time every day to recharge our batteries.

4. Getting outside each day. One day Desert Boy was super grumpy at the end of the day, and I realized he had had way too much screen time. Even though he declares he's an introvert and loves all the video game time (often with friends online), he needs a break from it. It's nice that it's spring and we can do some planting; there's just something about dirt that is so calming. I also will assign the kids to walk the dogs if they are really grumpy--they always come back in a better mood.

5. Not having huge expectations. Yes, it would be great to write the next new novel or learn a totally new skill, but we're not pushing for that. The kids have to do their school work each day. Then they have some other tasks, like working on 4-H projects, reading, music, and cleaning that they do in half-hour increments. They have lots of free time. We do lots more talking than before. We are watching more movies. We play more board games and cards. But we're not trying to change the world. We're mainly trying to stay home and stay healthy.

6. Connecting with friends and family.  We all definitely appreciate that this pandemic is happening when we have so many resources like Internet, smart phones, and cool technology like Zoom so we can easily connect across thousands of miles. We check in with distant family at least once a week via video conferencing, and as a result, the cousins are getting to know each other better. I had a fun time seeing friends on Google Hangouts and reconnecting. We're also writing cards and letters--it's so exciting to see something personal in the mailbox!

7. Arming ourselves with knowledge--but not too much. I like to know what's going on in the world, but I don't need to know every detail. I've focused on learning the science behind Covid-19, which makes it easy to practice physical distancing. Some sources: This Podcast will Kill You (a 6-part series on Covid-19, including mental health), a presentation on Coronavirus by Hazel Barton,
 and the New England Journal of Medicine. When I read or watch too much about current events, I get overwhelmed. So I limit my exposure, and we really filter it for the kids.

8. Finding the silver linings. Yes, this disease is horrific. It's changing so many things in how we live. Normal is a word we can't exactly describe anymore. So much has changed in just a few weeks. But it's not all gloom and doom. And if we can focus on the silver linings, it makes it a little easier to cope. Less traffic is good for the environment. Reconnecting with family or strengthening connections with loved ones is a joy. Some of our natural areas will have a chance to rest, for the wildlife to be wild again and not worry about traffic or other human influences. Slowing down life a little bit is something probably a lot of us need. And I'm guessing a lot of apartments and houses are getting cleaner than they have been in a long time.

It's also inspirational to see how people are coming together to get through this pandemic. I'm in awe of the scientific minds working to make new vaccines, of the engineers designing equipment to help us. I'm so thankful for the teachers revamping how they teach, food producers who keep getting food to us, folks in service jobs who keep our world running, and all in health care who are true heroes. We're all on this same little planet together, and together, we can keep our species alive and thriving.

The next weeks will not be easy. We need to give ourselves grace. We won't do everything right, but we can try our best.

Here are some other great resources:
Coronavirus: Mental Health Coping Strategies
CDC Mental Health
Coping with Coronavirus Stress

Take care. I'm thinking of and praying for all of us every day. And I'm washing my hands a lot.


Keith Flower said...

Thank you for your wonderful post.

Desert Survivor said...

You're welcome!

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