It's been a little over a week since my place of work sent all nonessential employees home until COVID-19 is no longer a threat and it's safe to come back. So far, my social distancing experience has been pretty great (for the first few days of working remotely, I felt happier than I have in months), but I know a lot of people out there are having a rough time. Whether you're worried about you or your loved ones catching the disease, struggling with finances, or lonely for your friends, I know this time of isolation (or lockdown, depending on your state) can be hard on you. So here's some things that have helped me that I hope will help you.
1. Set some structure
Chances are, most of you don't have someone looking over your shoulder right now telling you what needs to be done. It's up to you to create your own structure, or else you'll find yourself sitting on the couch all day. So grab a planner, a whiteboard, or even just paper and a pencil, and start carving out your time. Figure out what needs to be done and what you want to do. Block out time for work and projects, but also breaks to eat, read, have fun, and spend time with anyone else living in your home. Include a bedtime and a time to get up so that you're getting plenty of rest, but you're not sleeping the day away. I like to block off an hour at a time for each activity, for simplicity's sake.
Give yourself grace as you try to stick to your schedule, though. It's okay to deviate or alter the plan once it's in motion; you can't plan for everything. You may find one of your tasks is more important and needs more time, or you might need to take an unscheduled break because you can't focus. Make the changes you need to make, and know that it's okay to mess up. You can always try again tomorrow.
2. Get your body moving
Speaking of sitting on your couch, you're going to feel pretty gross and depressed if you spend too much time sitting around. Make sure you're getting enough exercise while you're stuck at home. Spring is here, so if the weather permits, try to get outside. My wife and I like to go for walks around the neighborhood (being careful to stay away from our neighbors). You might also play ball in the driveway or the backyard, or visit a local park or pool (but scope it out first to make sure it's not crowded).
On rainy days, you can still be physically active at home. Start a cleaning project, run up and down stairs, do a few squats, or even rearrange the furniture. Anything you can do to be physically active is going to help your body and emotions so much right now. Just be sure to drink plenty of water while you're at it!
3. Think inside the box (the box being the computer)
Right now you may be starved for connection, or you may be missing events that have been canceled. You may need to find a new way to do your job safely and responsibly, or you may need another job altogether. Fortunately, today's technology can do so much to help with these problems.
Video chats and livestreaming can bring people together and facilitate connection even when everyone is stuck in their own house. My friends and I have started getting together for weekly video chats in Google Hangouts. My church, Freedom Fellowship now streams its services through Facebook Live, and my church Lifegroup meets through Zoom now. In fact, when a friend found out our local Comicon would be cancelled, she and her friends planned a small online convention through Zoom, complete with guest panels, costumes, and more.
As for work, technology can come in handy there too. In education, for example, I've seen teachers everywhere working hard to teach their students through online courses. Work-from-home opportunities are growing too thanks to the internet; I'm currently looking into Proofread Anywhere to help set up my own proofreading business. Think creatively, check out what's available online, and I'll bet you'll be able to solve any number of problems with the help of modern technology.
4. Find joy in the little things
Right now, I'm finding joy in the beautiful spring weather. It's so warm and sunny outside, and that makes me smile. So do the blooming cherry trees several of our neighbors have. Getting cuddles from my kitties warms my heart, and spending more time with my wife is such a blessing right now.
I'm also finding joy in the way people are pulling together to help each other right now, even in small ways. A friend of mine has started doing announcements every morning in the style of a school principal, sharing good news he's found on the internet. Sir Patrick Stewart is sharing a sonnet a day on social media, and hearing his rich, wonderful voice read Shakespeare's work is the aural equivalent of wrapping myself in a warm blanket.
I've seen so many people sharing things like this, to bring a little comfort into others' lives right now, and I'm thinking about collecting and sharing them here in future self-isolation posts. For now, though, I hope these tips help you manage this COVID-19 season with a little more well-being and a little more joy.