You already had a lot on your plate and now it’s worse. Maybe now you’re working from home while homeschooling your kids, doing the laundry, cooking the meals, and cleaning the house. You’re finding it hard to grab just a few minutes to yourself. And maybe you’re not getting the social support you used to, making it even harder to cope with the isolation and the restriction.
It’s hard on you and your family. It’s been hard on everyone. But you can get through this. In this post are 7 doable ways to keep your sanity during such a challenging time.
Reclaim your personal time. Recharge doing things YOU enjoy
I used to scroll for hours online searching for cool and fun activities that I could do at home with my oldest son. The quality time spent with him was great, but not once would I entertain the idea of doing a fun activity just for myself. That was partly mom guilt and forgetting that I need to practice self-care.
Doing enjoyable activities or projects sans kids is part of a healthy self-care routine for moms whether there’s COVID or not. Schedule a time in your day to do a project or activity that you enjoy. A few minutes a day to do something just for you that doesn’t involve cleaning, cooking or other caretaking duties will help you recharge. It can help make the time go by on those long days of lockdown.
The activity doesn’t have to consume a lot of time or energy, but it should be something that has you feeling energized. Some examples: Gratitude journal, small DIY project, reading, listening to podcasts, etc.
If you struggle with this because you typically put family first, know your needs are just as important. Let your family members know that this time for yourself is important to you. Make this your opportunity to unplug from mommy mode for a little while.
Establish a Routine for your life as it is right now
Before all this started you probably had a good routine you were happy with but now it’s all over the place. The problem is that now you can’t separate work life from family life. It’s bundled up together all under one roof. It’s understandable if it feels like your routine is a little messy right now.
Establishing a routine that works for your life right now is going to make a huge difference on how well you and your family can cope during the pandemic. Just like before all this happened, having a morning and evening routine will still be helpful. It can tame the chaos and provide a sense of certainty. It can help you stay focused and approach the day with confidence.
If you’re winging it right now, that’s okay. Don’t be hard on yourself, sometimes winging it can work but most of the time it doesn’t. Establish a routine by understanding where your roadblocks are and what you want your day to look like.
Quick steps to getting your routine (for life as it is right now) started:
- Grab a piece of paper and write down one major obstacle you face during the day and in the evening.
- On another piece of paper, make a short list of things you want to do during the day and the evening. What do you envision your mornings and evenings looking like? In other words, what’s your ideal morning and evening routine?
- What are your priorities in the morning and evening? For example, you might want to prioritize personal time before the kids wake up, or you might want to prioritize meal planning.
From your answers, choose 3-5 things that match your priorities to create your routine.
You might be thinking this is easier said than done but don’t feel you need to do all at once. Start with establishing a routine for one priority moving to the next one when you are ready. Soon you will experience what it’s like to have days that don’t have you scrambling or winging it.
Don’t Underestimate the Power of Journaling
If you are journaling already, keep it up! If you’re not, you might want to give it a try. There’s plenty of evidence (source) that journaling improves mental health. As many of us are shuttering in place, we’re not getting the social support like we did before the pandemic. Journaling is an excellent tool that can help you get through a stressful event. It doesn’t cost much, just a blank notebook and a pen. That’s all you need to get started.
There are many benefits to journaling beyond de-stressing. It can be a creative outlet and a practice to increase knowledge and self-awareness. Journaling can also help with tracking. Track your mood, energy levels, or sleep, or nutrition, etc. You would be surprised how much insight you can gain with this practice. Over time you will have gathered a lot of information about yourself that you can look back on and see what areas of your life could use improvement.
We know now that act of writing down your thoughts and feelings can help enormously. Keeping negative feelings bottled up can cause the anxiety to get worse. So, by writing them all down, it eliminates them from the mind, leaving you feeling instantly calmer. You’ll also find when you write down your anxious feelings, they have less power over you. You’ll be able to look at them more subjectively and realize they aren’t as powerful as you thought they were.
Don’t forget to write about the positive moments too. Writing down happy events are also healthy and beneficial and great to read about again in the future.
Get Moving to Relieve Stress
Being stuck at home, working, homeschooling, and maintaining the home is not only mentally draining but it can also make you feel sluggish. Exercise can help. You’re probably thinking it’s the last thing you want to do right now, am I right?
Do you remember a time when you really didn’t want to exercise, but did it anyway? How did you feel afterwards? I’m betting you felt pretty good. Thank the endorphins your body produced. This is why exercise is so valuable. Not just because it can help you get fit but it can reframe your mind in a positive way. It’s can help you de-stress, relax and boost your mood.
I can almost guarantee you that if you commit to just a few minutes of exercise a day, you will feel better. All it takes is getting over the hesitation and starting with just 5 minutes.
Set aside time in your planner and/or add a reminder on your phone. Aim for at least 30 minutes a day. You can break it up in small chunks over the day or do it all at once, whichever works best for you.
How to make it happen:
- Start with a fitness activity you will enjoy. It won’t work if it feels like a chore.
- Remember every little bit counts. If you exercise for 15 minutes twice a day or in 10-minute increments throughout the day, it can easily add up.
- Put it in your calendar.
- Make it a family event or make it your me-time.
Another bonus to moving more is improved sleep. More sleep means more energy, more focus and better mood which is something all moms need.
News and Social Media: You Need A Break
It’s good to be up to date with news and with close friends and family online. So, I’m not going to tell you to cut it out of your life. But if you’re having a rough day or week and watching news stories upsets you a little too much, you probably want to disconnect yourself for a bit.
The same goes with social media. There are plenty of positive stories and interactions online but there are also many negative interactions too. If you find yourself frequently triggered when scrolling through social media, it’s time to take a break.
You might depend on social media for important events, communication, and entertainment. So, I understand this can be a tough one. Being sheltered-in-place is no fun and sometimes these are ways to make the time go by. In the end if it’s more unhelpful than helpful you’re better off without it.
Breathe In. Breathe Out.
You would be surprised how shallow our breathing can be. Stress can cause our breathing to be shallow which can make us very tired. A good way to solve this problem is to breathe deeply. It’s simple and it works. Diaphragmatic breathing can help you de-stress and focus. Just like a baby, they breathe in and their tummy expands, they breathe out and their tummy contracts. Adults instead move their chest in and out.
Practicing deep diaphragmatic breathing can help manage stress and boost energy.
Here’s how to do it:
Sit up straight in a chair and place a hand on your stomach. Inhale through your nose deeply, filling your stomach with air instead of your chest. It might take a few tries to get it right. Keeping your hand on your stomach can help you focus.
Your chest should not rise, but your stomach and lower ribs should expand. Then breathe out through your mouth, letting the air collapse your stomach and lower ribs. Do this slowly and deeply, about five to ten times.
Try to do this throughout the day so that you can train your body to mostly breathe diaphragmatically. This type of breathing will provide more oxygen leaving you feel more relaxed and energized.
Be kind to yourself.
Moms can be so cruel to themselves. Be easy on yourself. You are doing the best you can with what you have. I’m not a believer of “Doing it all”, all at once. It’s unrealistic, even in the best of times. Even worse, it can impede progress and distort reality. What I mean by that, is that it can leave you feeling like you’re not enough or doing enough when in fact, you are enough and doing enough. You are doing better than you think.
Go ahead and cut yourself some slack even if the dishes aren’t clean, or if homeschooling didn’t go well today, or if you lost your cool with the kids. Take a deep breath and don’t forget to be kind to yourself.
I hope that these tips will help make living during a pandemic a little bit easier. I can’t guarantee you that everything will run smoothly but you can adapt. Do what you need to do to make it work. Have confidence that you are doing what’s best for you and your family. You got this.
How are you staying sane during COVID? Have some tips? Share in the comments!