Dear Readers, I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. Here in Massachusetts, we've been staying at home for over two months now, and what began as a scary and surreal experience has only become more so. These are some of the ways I’m coping with the high levels of stress and uncertainty. Practices that, overall, are helping to keep me (relatively) calm and balanced. Do any resonate with you?
Organizing myself on paper. To balance out all the screen time and notifications, I use a spiral notebook to help ground me and make sure I don’t lose sight of my priorities and goals. On one side of the page I keep a journal, and on the opposite side I write down my lists and plans. And I consider the issue of life balance -- am I creating goals that serve my Body, Heart, Soul, and Mind? How can I track or measure my progress? At the end of the day I review how I did and write down at least three things I'm grateful for.
(Trying) to clean my house more often. There are four of us here and we’re not leaving the house that much. The accumulating junk, dust, and dirt makes it that much harder to maintain a clear mind and unencumbered spirit. I used to resent cleaning (it always feels like it’s undone within hours if not minutes), but now I see it as an ongoing happiness practice.
Knowing my personality tendency and using that knowledge to my advantage. Like most of the population, I’m an Obliger (see Gretchen Rubin’s 4 Tendencies quiz to find yours: https://quiz.gretchenrubin.com/four-tendencies-quiz/). I know that I’m better at meeting outer expectations than inner ones. There are some exceptions (I lean towards other tendencies like Questioner and Upholder), but in general I need help getting things done that don’t have firm deadlines. I’ve been experimenting to see what helps me do that. I now have online study buddies, workout partners, and social gatherings; socially-distanced walks with friends; street tennis and virtual college tours with my sons; music playlists, audiobooks, and podcasts to listen to when I clean, prep dinner, or just need a lift. (See my updated blog post that includes my favorite podcasts!)
Cutting myself some slack and taking a break as needed. Sometimes I hit my limit. I’ve read one too many bleak news items or experienced a particularly stressful outing. My older son told me that he tends to have a “good” day that is often followed by a “bad” day. He can get a lot done and feel pretty good about himself one day, but often can't replicate that experience and feeling the next day. I agree. Sometimes I need to accept the low points and give myself permission to check out for a while. I seem to recover more quickly that way.
What works for you and what challenges are you struggling with? I'd love to hear from you!