Today is a new day, a gift. A blessing and an opportunity to share my story with other women in hopes that it will help them through these uncertain times of disruption to our every day lives.
One thing is for sure, we are all walking without a road map through a valley of a global pandemic called the coronavirus, or COVID-19. I got a little wrapped up in the drama of it all and my depression took over for a minute. Okay, a couple days really, but I was trying to sound “hip.” I watched the news as China was hit with this crazy virus that seemed like something from the movies. It was far enough away and outside of my immediate circle that it didn’t affect my daily life. I prayed for China, but then I was able to turn off the TV or click the X on the screen leaving the page of chaos behind.
In the meantime, it is still winter here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. People are still celebrating the new snowfall in the mountains while I look at the hill behind my house and pray that it doesn’t come any closer. This has been an exceptionally gray winter. As soon as I thought I had my depression figured out, allowing me to cut it off at the pass and avoid the inevitable low I get to this time of the year, I got hit right between the eyes with a snowball.
This Pandemic Can Affect Your Mental Health
With the pandemic of COVID-19 now reaching the U.S. and affecting my daily life, I find my thoughts running rampant trying to process all that is going on in the world right now. That being said, I am trying to keep my thoughts in check, my anxiety from taking over and depression from laying me out flat.
I will be honest, it takes a lot of energy to focus on not feeling anxious or having depressing thoughts take over, even if depression isn’t your everyday battle. If it helps at all, we are all in this together as a community, a country, and even globally. Find someone that you can reach out to and have a conversation with that doesn’t revolve around this pandemic. For example, talk about the weather—it has been gloriously sunny here the last couple of days. I know that topic seems cliché but, really, if you can find something simple to talk about it will help shift your thoughts.
I had an especially restless night, unable to really get any sleep. My house is tucked up against a mountain so while it gets light out, it takes a little while to actually see the sun. I took this to my advantage this morning and slept in a little. I made a cup of coffee, bundled up, and went out to watch the sun come up over the trees. I took in the sounds of the birds enjoying my freshly filled feeders and just allowed myself that time of quiet. I focused on what sounds I was hearing, how the sun felt as it kissed my cheek. I took a walk through my garden, stopping to bend down and see what plants were pushing their way through the dirt. I pulled a few weeds and noted the aroma of the freshly turned up earth while watching a fat worm wriggle its way back into it.
Tip 1: Develop a New Routine
If you suffer from anxiety or depression or even if you are just feeling those things now because of the current situations, routine will be helpful. Give yourself grace to find a new normal schedule. It won’t happen right away and it may be a fluid target, but make sure you have consistency in your day. Do you work out in the morning before beginning your day? Then stick with that. If your gym is closed, scroll Pinterest for ideas of workouts you can do at home. Do you have a cup of coffee while watching the news? It’s OK to watch the news with your morning beverage—just pay close attention to your thoughts. If they start to get sucked into the chaos that you see on TV, turn it off. What does your coffee taste like … is it bitter, sweet, creamy with a vanilla undertone?
Something you can do that will have a huge impact daily … take a shower, put your yummy smelling lotion on, and get dressed. Our sense of smell is closely tied to mood, focus, stress, and memory. This act that seems so small can have a very big impact on our mood. It can also be something that is helpful to our children. Our scent, the lotion we use, or even just a small spray of our perfume can comfort them when we give them a hug or are in close proximity to them.
Tip 2: Give Lots of Grace
You may find yourself homeschooling your kiddos right now. Remember that you are their mom, not their classroom teacher. Lessons at home may look different than worksheets at school. What an opportunity your kids have to learn in a new, non-conventional way. Again, search ideas on Pinterest, check out some homeschool blogs. Math time may be baking a batch of chocolate chip cookies. I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of cookies baking? (Also, if you are new to homeschooling in this season, don’t miss this article by Dr. Zoe Shaw. It will leave you so encouraged!)
Be mindful of what you are eating. I know … it’s a funny spot to place this sentence after I suggested baking chocolate chip cookies. It’s OK to eat a cookie, just don’t sit down in front of the news and eat the whole batch. And make sure you are drinking enough water.
Looking for more on finding a routine and healthy balance during this time? Don’t miss How to Stay Fit (Mind, Body and Soul) While Staying Put
Tip 3: Make the Most of It
You know who is happiest about you being at home? Your pets. When I didn’t go to work that first Monday morning, my dog, Remington, was looking at me with a puzzled gaze, then immediately wanted to play. He was so excited to go for a walk in the morning. That’s our summer routine, so he may be confused when I do go back to work. For now, I didn’t hear him complain.
Journaling always helps me to process through what I am feeling. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Again, give yourself some grace. A little grace will go a long way right now. Write a few notes and snail mail them to parents, grandparents, kids in your life, or an old friend. Everyone loves getting happy mail. That book that has been sitting on your night stand for months collecting dust? Curl up with a blanket, a nice cup of tea, and dive in. It will give your mind somewhere else to focus for a bit.
Go through your local coffee shop drive thru for an afternoon treat. You’ll be supporting your community and getting out of the house for a bit. Maybe steer clear of the quad shot mocha, though.
Some people already work from home; some people already homeschool their children. For my sons who are both tradesmen, they are still going to work every day. This, however, is going to be a long journey into the unknown for most of us. It will take both grit and grace to get through this, but we are in this together, our friends, family, nation, and even global community. This, friends, is where kindness matters the most. Kindness for others, but especially kindness for ourselves.
Keep up to date with all the content we have related to coronavirus here!
For more encouragement during a life change, check out:
Ask Dr. Zoe – Anxiety: What is Normal, When Do I Seek Help?
To the Mom Terrified of Homeschooling Through the Pandemic
An Adventure in First Time Homeschooling (We Miss You Teachers)
To the Mom Who Feels Guilty for Sitting on the Job
3 Ways Positive Self-Talk Can Improve Your Life
Stuck In a Rut? Here’s How to Get Some Perspective
How to Stay Fit (Mind, Body and Soul) While Staying Put
When Life Gives You Lemons, Reach Out to Your Friends
7 Ways to Get the Most Out of Now
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You’ll love this podcast episode from This Grit and Grace Life: What Are the Unexpected Gifts of Depression? With Melissa Maimone – 095!
You’ll also like this one: How to Get Over the Pandemic That’s Not Over – 139