In this unprecedented time of isolating at home for social distancing to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus, our previously predictable schedules have now grinded to a halt and you might be thinking, “How are we going to survive this at-home chaos and boredom?”  As you ponder those answers, remember that your children are watching and absorbing all your choices, so while the traditional school buildings are closed down, another aspect of life learning is in full swing: how to self-sooth through self-care. 

Here is a list of ten useful ideas to help you get through each day, keep yourself sane, and teach your child life-long coping skills.

One:  Breathe.  Take notice of your breathing right now.  Is it shallow? Are you possibly holding your breath?  How many deep breaths have you taken recently? When we breathe deeply, our bodies are triggered to relax.  Take a moment to slowly and deeply inhale for 3-5 seconds, then hold your breath for 3-5 seconds, then slowly exhale for 3-5 seconds.  Repeat this cycle a minimum of 3 times or longer until you feel your body reset with a calm relaxation.

Two:  Eat well.  Choose nutrient dense foods to nourish your body.  While stuck at home, it’s tempting to snack all day and eat junk food.  Perhaps you’re feeling lethargic or unmotivated and you’re surviving on frozen pizza these days.  We’re all doing the best we can and there’s no judgement here. However, integrating a healthy salad or some peanut butter on celery along with that pizza and some fresh fruit for dessert goes a long way in supporting your immunity and maintaining your energy. 

Three:  Hydrate.  Along with nutrient dense foods is the importance of hydrating.  A well-functioning body requires water! Yes, you can have your morning coffee, your afternoon tea, or your evening glass of wine but also make sure you’re drinking half your body weight in ounces of water each day.  For example, if you are 100 pounds, then divide 100 by 2 which equals 50 ounces of water consumption. Please do not cut back on hydration to reduce bathroom trips because you’re low on toilet paper! Someone out there can lend you a roll. 

Four:  Get moving.  Keep up your current exercise regime if you can.  Perhaps the local gym, pool, exercise class, or school track is closed up, but you can be creative and find ways to move your body.  Walk your dog, jog around your neighborhood, use your in-home stairs in lieu of your stair-stepper machine, take bike rides with the kids, stretch in the living room, or find online fitness classes.  Many resources are offering free online classes so a quick Google search might produce some great results.

Five: Create a schedule.  Maintaining a predictable schedule helps everyone feel safer in an otherwise unpredictable time right now.  By keeping your sleeping and meal schedule similar to the pre-coronavirus era, our minds are put a bit more at ease.  This especially helps if one or both parents are working from home. Of course, adjustments may be necessary but the more you can create structure, the more productive you’ll feel.  

Six:  Remain connected to others.  Look at your contacts list and reach out to those who may need a little extra help or emotional support.  Be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Either regularly check on those you care about or set up a schedule by which you take turns checking on each other.  Any social connection reminds us that we’re all in this together, we’re all going through a very stressful time, and we can validate our struggles and cheer one another up. 

Seven:  Feel the feels.  This is a highly unusual and confusing time for everyone so allow yourself to feel everything.  At some moments you might think, “I got this” while you may also worry, “How will I get through this?” or “What is happening to the world?”  And you may cycle through this over and over throughout each day. Whether you’re on the front line in an essential job or hunkered down at home, life has changed considerably in a very short time and it has also become unpredictable.  It’s okay to ebb and flow with your emotions. Allow them to come forth and feel them. Then remember to nurture yourself with that walk, that delicious fruit, phone call with a friend, or by simply taking a nap.   

Eight:  Just be.  This might include taking a few moments to reflect on life, finding simple things to feel grateful for, meditating, or developing a positive mantra.  During stress, if we can pivot our worrisome thoughts to a positive stance, we help calm ourselves down. Reflect for a moment on a happy memory. Feel the emotion and notice the smile on your face.  Find something to feel grateful about. Does your dog lick your face? Do you love your child’s giggle? Does your kitty snuggle on your lap? Did you get a good night’s sleep? There’s so much good to recognize even in a chaotic world.  Meditate, even if that means closing your eyes for two minutes while you practice deep breathing. See #1 for instruction. Lastly, develop a mantra to repeat to yourself when a little self pep talk is needed. “This is temporary.” “I am safe.”  “I am healthy.” Customize the message as needed to reflect your life.  

Nine:  Laugh. It’s okay to find humor during a struggle.  In fact, it’s encouraged. According to my Google search, “laughter decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease. Laughter triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.”  Find ways to be funny, tell jokes, act silly, and enjoy the endless hysterical memes circulating on social media. 

Ten:  Create new traditions.  People thrive off rituals and traditions and never is there a better time to develop a new way of living life.  Come up with theme days or theme meals. Develop a game night. Start a new exercise program. Kick off a new bedtime or morning routine.  The ideas are endless so examine what’s happening in your life and what you’d like to improve then get to work creating a new tradition for yourself, your marriage, your kids, or your entire family.  

What I know is that nothing in life is constant and this coronavirus will pass but not without changing life as we know it.  It’s within our attitude to determine if life will change for the better or not. There is no right way to cope during these times except for what feels right for you.  Take care of you and may you and your family know all health, safety, and love.