ORDER(?) IN CORONA CHAOS
I’m currently sitting in my office. I’ve dubbed it my coronaoffice, which makes me smile part of the time and shake my head in disbelief in others. One of the things that has been huge for me to figure out is HOW in the world am I supposed to carry and do the things I’m responsible for with the world in chaos around me. The picture below of Janet Jackson is from the movie Why Did I Get Married. Clearly, she was going through. But there are honestly days where I’m convinced that – trying to homeschool two kids (I mean seriously, I’m an engineer and having to learn 5th grade math), to make sure all my university students feel supported, trying to keep my elderly parents safe (one who is immunocompromised), trying to hit the home gym every day, attempting to manage a quarantined relationship, checking on friends and family, and, and, and – it’s an impossible situation.
While that might not be exactly your life, I imagine you have trials of your own that might feel impossible. That you leave you feeling like Janet? Or maybe like “Stressed Barbie” (it’s worth the time on Google images).
She’s clearly going through…
If you do identify with any of those feelings, PLEASE hear me when I say . . . “It’s ok to feel how you feel… AND You’re not alone”.
Even though I will be first to admit that even for a Type-A there’s no magic bullet to manage all that has now fallen into our laps uninvited, I would like to offer up some things that have helped me push forward the last 4 years (well, technically it’s been about four weeks, but you feel me, right?).
KEEPING A ROUTINE AND A SCHEDULE
My coronaoffice — simultaneously allowing a semblance of productivity and seeing what’s happening in these streets…
Every morning, I get up. I get dressed. I even comb my hair sometimes. To be fair, I didn’t always comb my hair prior to this. I probably don’t have shoes on, but all of me is prepared for the day. I don’t do work in my bed. I eat the same way I would otherwise, and at night, I work out in my “home gym”. To keep me accountable, I have a videoconference line where friends of mine join from time to time.
I write my schedule for the week, so I have goals. But I know I won’t always carry everything out. And that’s ok. Which brings me to my next point.
BEING OKAY WITH ‘FAILING’
Trying to be a full-time anything is difficult. Including being a student. But having multiple responsibilities thrust on you can leave you feeling like a constant failure. You’re not. You’re dealing with something that none of us have before. And in my humble opinion, just living through murky, uncomfortable, challenging time is a huge victory. So be mindful of where you’re setting your bar for what’s acceptable during this time. Not too high, not too low, but just at the right Goldilocks level that works for you.”
If you look at social media, you’d believe that NOW is the time to shine. Learn a language (programming or not), write a book, bake that cake, and the list goes on. I’ve seen my share of memes and other things saying if you don’t use this time to be productive, you’ve wasted it. I disagree. I already had three jobs before this started (single mother, faculty, and business owner). And I’ve added homeschool teacher and other things to that during this time. So why would I now want to attempt to add to that plate? Although the kids did try baking. You can see below how that turned out. I’m feeling like we’d make great contestants on Nailed It. NOW if you have time and find yourself binge-watching for 10 hours a day, that’s a different story. This might be your opportunity to conquer a new skill. But don’t feel pressured that this time must be that. Maybe you just need to take time to pay attention to YOU.
Baking Fail. Banana nut somethings…
PAYING ATTENTION TO MY MENTAL HEALTH
For me, that means not being on the news and reading headlines all the time. It means making sure that I have actual phone conversations with people I love. If you knew me well, you’d understand that’s big. It means working out. Not for the look of it, but for the scientifically proven benefits. And it means if I’m feeling overwhelmed that I don’t beat myself up. I admit how I’m feeling, sometimes take a nap and start over, and keep the party going. You’ll have to decide what it means for you. But I encourage you to pay attention once or twice a day to how you are and be honest with yourself about the activities that will support positive feelings.
If you take away nothing else from what I’ve said, please know that you are not alone and you can get through this. Everyone will be touched in some way, but I really do believe we will all come out stronger. Even if stronger simply means knowing you can get through.