This is such an unsettled time. COVID-19 has rearranged many of our lives seemingly overnight. Here in Kansas City, we’re under shelter-at-home orders, schools are closed, and many people have suddenly found themselves without a job and income as a result. It has even changed therapy. Now, most therapists are meeting their clients online for video sessions, myself included.
The shelter-at-home orders leave some people feeling a little too much family togetherness and others feeling isolated and lonely. Both are challenging situations. In the former case, don’t overlook the fact that the orders do allow us to go outside for walks, bike rides, etc. so long as we maintain at least 6 feet of distance between ourselves and others. I’ll tell you that in my own neighborhood, I have never seen so many dogs being walked the way they are now. The dogs are going to miss this when regular life resumes! In addition to exercise, the exposure to sunlight and nature are beneficial to your mood and health. This means that some time to yourself outside has multiple benefits and fortunately we are entering into pleasant spring weather.
For those who have the opposite problem and feel isolated or lonely, technology can come to the rescue. Make formal arrangements to talk to friends and family (by phone or by video), each day if possible. Texts and emails have their place, too, but are not the same as actual person-to-person interaction where you see or hear the other in real time. Netflix Party allows you to synchronize your viewing and chat with your friends while watching shows and movies. And on Twitter (the only social media platform I use), I’ve seen various people organizing movie watching events where everyone tweets their way through movies together. You can also spend some time writing letters each day (even if you never send them) to people you love. Spending time in this activity can help you feel those feelings of love and closeness even while you remain physically separated.
Self-care is always important, but in this time where life is so affected by the pandemic, it is especially important. Self-care doesn’t have to mean big things and, in fact, it doesn’t always mean things that you want to do. For example, no one I know enjoys doing their taxes, but filing taxes so they aren’t hanging over your head as an ongoing source of stress can be an act of self care. Treating yourself to a tea bag for a cup of a favorite but expensive tea and then finding 5 minutes to yourself to sip that tea is an act of self-care, as well.
And, finally, now is definitely not the time to be a perfectionist. If you are a parent working from home and also now tasked with making sure your children are doing school work at home, you’ve got more stress and responsibilities on your shoulders than usual, and for most of us usual was already pretty stressful! Remind yourself that “good enough” is okay. The kids getting most of their work done rather than all of it may be good enough. If the laundry makes it from the dryer to your laundry basket but not to the closets and dressers, right now, that might be good enough. If you are doing a video conference for work in your sweat pants and still need a shower, well, they can’t smell you and that’s good enough! If the family eats cereal for dinner, well, that’s good enough; no one went hungry, right? If you are feeling guilty because your kids are watching endless hours of tv right now, and the words of experts are ringing in your ears about the dangers of too much TV, give yourself a break. The kids are fed and safe and an unusual amount of TV for one month won’t ruin them. It’s good enough for right now.
Focus on keeping some sort of routine to your days during this weird time of sheltering at home and this will also help you to make it through. If you find that would benefit from having an outside person to talk to during this time, I invite you to give me a call. In addition to the sliding scale that I offer clients, I am currently offering several COVID-19 scholarships for people who are financially impacted. I don’t want that to be the reason you aren’t getting help. Call or text me at (816) 226-4678 and let’s set something up!