(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr. Find out more at my newsletter.)
It’s been over six months since the Pandemic hit the United States. I’m sure a lot of us are feeling worn out – I certainly am – and the continuing irresponsibility of our government and fellow citizens. Still, we persist and endure.
I decided to round up the things that I’m doing to keep it together and survive and maybe even thrive during all of this. I’ve sprinkled it with advice from others I’ve gotten, and I’d like to hear from you. Maybe I’ll republish this at regular intervals until we’re through this.
PLANNING AND TIME MANAGEMENT
Planning and scheduling help you take control, adapt to a loss of control, and keep from being overwhelmed.
Have a schedule – Having a schedule gives us a sense of control and helps us do important things at the right time. Find the right level of schedule you need, because these are challenging times and you need to adapt, but try to have one.
Set meaningful goals and reach them – Set goals, and when you reach them, celebrate so you appreciate your efforts and feel your own power. Many people do this anyway, but during times like this you need that sense of success. You may even set tinier goals or everyday life task goals to help you stay focused.
Experiment and study – This is a good time to see how other people are managing their time and find other techniques. If you can find a way to organize your life that works in this situation, it may be pretty robust!
Make time for good things – Make sure there is time to hang out, relax, have fun, etc. Find the level of schedule that you need and give yourself time to relax – maybe you need to plan that maybe you need to stop planning at times.
Celebrate wins – I’ve kept a “success list” for ages to appreciate what I’ve done – do the same for yourself every week or two. Also do things to celebrate what’s gone right.
You’re going to need exercise, especially if you’re used to getting out more and go to the gym.
Exercise in the morning – I learned this trick at work – if you do exercise in the morning it seems to help your mood. It definitely helped mine, and as it involves long walks, I start with a sense of having been “out.”
Try new schedules – Try to change up your exercise schedule to fit the new reality. Some of us can spread our exercise out, some of us may want to “condense” them into intense exercise days to really focus. Personally I found when I spread out my cardio into small bursts each day it worked, but that might change.
Try new exercises – Also experiment with new ways to exercise at home to see what fits your new schedule and helps you feel better. For me, I discovered the power of high steps and stair climbs, which I’d never tried.
Don’t forget everyday stuff – If you’re cleaning your home instead of a cleaning person, or remodeling to get it out of the way, that’s exercise. It may also make you feel better!
We all gotta eat, and stuck at home with a big box of chocolates and a raging disease, we need to stay healthy. And maybe have one more chocolate.
Get into eating healthy – Its hard to eat healthy in this level of stress, but it’s important. But you can also experiment on new ways to eat healthy – new foods, new combinations, etc.
Try to prepare new things – This is a good time to experiment with new meals – you’re at home, have your equipment, etc. It can also give you new things to look forward to and try.
It’s fine to treat yourself – Don’t go ignoring the comforting power of food. It helps.
Organize shopping and condense it – I condense our shopping trips into one run a week, and it helps to plan it and get it out of the way, as well as giving you something to look forward to. We might make a run to a nearby store/deli once a week and we get extras there.
Experiment with delivery – I tried out different delivery forms and services and stores to find the ones that work the best – and ones I can use to support local businesses.
Consider “Cooking Ahead” – I used to cook a lot of meals ahead, and though I do it less, it may work for you. Having your meals pre-preared may take a lot of stress off.
You can still share – Among my friends now and then we drop off some food safely to each other. You can still share food.
Share ideas – Look you’re all home cooking. Share recipes, try them out together, even do them on video like one of my friends did with a barbeque!
Shopping is important as we’ve changed our habits, but also it can be enjoyable.
Window shop online – I don’t know if it’s good for everyone, but yes I window shop online. It’s a way to duplicate the experience and even share it with others.
It’s OK to treat yourself – It’s fine to splurge a bit for your sanity. Sure you can overspend, but come on it’s a pandemic, give yourself a break.
Support good businesses – This isn’t just the right thing, but shopping ethnically, thinking about supporting local businesses, helps you engage with society at large. Yeah you just bought some notebooks, but you did it from someone you care about.
We need people to stay human and stay sane.
Have scheduled events – These help a lot. In the case of my groups of friends we have a few regular online events, some where various groups cross over. This predictability gives us something to look forward to and helps a lot.
Try out the tech – There’s a lot of social media tools and meeting tools, so try them all out! Find what works! It may also be fun to experiment.
Low-level regular contact – Discord chats, text messages, etc. are good ways to have low-engagement talks and stay in touch with people. Sure it’s not immediate chat, but it can help you stay connected.
Virtualize events – I started doing virtual lunches 1:1 with people lately and it’s been incredibly helpful to my well-being. Its social, its focused on something, and it’s not overly stressful.
Find what works for you – Find what social events work for you. It may not fit everyone.
Have “you” time – Take time for yourself. It can be too easy to use technology to stay always on when you may need time off.
You’re seeing your place of residence a lot more, may it work for you.
Be willing to rearrange – Rearrange your home, room, office, etc. to help you be at home in these times. Make it work for you.
Try out new things – Since you’re stuck at home you can try things out, like using that standing desk or changing up where you work. You’re already adapting to a lot.
Get stuff done – One friend worked to get a lot of housework done and found it very helpful – it got done and they had a sense of control and accomplishment.
This is a tough time, and keeping it together body and soul takes effort.
Take your meds – Look, if you need them, do it. Set a reminder, have someone help you, etc.
Reach out – Not just to friends, therapists and doctors are doing everything online. Check in with people and professionals.
Mediate – Not going to solve everything, but returning to meditation really helped me relax.
Sleep – Our sleep schedules may be disrupted, so try out ways to get a better sleep. For instance I use a noise app on my phone, while my girlfriend found sheets that have a delightful cool feel to them.
Run the numbers – If you need to check weight, BP, blood oxygen, there are tools to do it. Use them.
Treat yourself – Really, go bingewatch something or get a new game or whatever. Be nice to yourself.
GO OUT IF YOU CAN
The outside world is there. We need to be reminded of it – safely. If you can go outside properly, do it.
Drive – If you have a car, take short drives. It’s good for your car anyway, but it also helps you get outside.
Enjoy That Shopping Trip – If you go out to get groceries or something – safely – do your best to enjoy the experience. Grab a treat, take the long way home, something.
Walking – As I mentioned earlier I walk a lot. See if that works for your need to “get out.”
Be “Outish” – Some of my neighbors sit in their garage and watch the world go by, outside but far from people. I’ve had lunch with my GF in the backyard. Go “out” somewhere even if you’re not that out.
HANG IN THERE
So I hope these tips help. I’d love to hear yours and I may update this list.