Today is day four. Day four of of stringent policies, regulations, and restrictions in the health campus where I work. Well, actually, in every health care facility across our country. This crazy, new world of covid-19 has turned our lives upside-down and inside-out. I have no new information to share with you concerning this pandemic. I have no answers to why this has happened, or what needs to be done. I am with you in that I have lots of questions. There’s an eeriness now that runs through my veins on a daily basis. And, of course, there’s a slight fear of the unknown. But I think I can offer you suggestions on how to make this sheltering-in-place better, healthier, and more positive. Know that I write these to myself, first, and foremost, because I can lose myself easily during stressful times if I am not careful. Again…referring to the example of using the oxygen first on a turbulent flight before helping another. It’s not selfish. It’s smart. Take care of yourself first. But don’t be greedy.
I apologize that this blog is lengthy. But, hey, you are shut in. What else are you going to do? Just kidding. There is much to do actually. And that brings me to the topic of this blog. I have some ideas to help make your time at home more manageable and pleasant. First a little background about a difficult time in my life. I see now that what I went through 40+ years ago has a purpose for today. I learned a lesson.
My family lived in Waukegan, Illinois. In August of 1977, my father transferred to Ft. Wayne, Indiana. This was at the beginning of my junior year in high school. My sister was a sophomore, and my brother, a freshman. We left our tight-knit group of neighborhood friends and traveled far away only to have to start over. I’m not gonna lie. This was a difficult transition for me. Not to mention the culture shock of moving from a huge Chicago-like school with security walking the halls to a small country high school in the middle of, what I refer to as, “Amishland”.
In Waukegan, I didn’t consider that we lived in the city. I still believe it was more country than city. We lived where there were grassy fields between homes and a very long, undeveloped strip of land beneath the power lines where all the guys in the neighborhood raced their motorcycles. At night, when I was in bed, especially when the window was open, I could hear the train whistles to the west along with the peaceful, rhythmic lull as it traveled over the tracks. To the east, I heard ship horns blaring through the night on Lake Michigan. Maybe it was a fog horn. I’m not sure. Whichever it was, it was calming. But now we were moving even further out into the country and while I am a country girl at heart, the challenges of moving from our friends and from the only life we knew, was hard. And it was about to get even more challenging.
So we moved to a lovely home in the country. We bought two horses, chickens, a rooster, geese, and pigs. We had a special pig, too, named Annie. She was mom’s favorite. My mother loved the country and all of the animals. This brings to mind a funny memory. We had a tall purple martin bird house out in the yard near the clothesline. I remember my mom wearing a clothes basket over her head when she walked through the yard as those birds would dive at her. That makes me smile yet today. I think we all loved the country too.
So our summer ended. Fall quickly came and went too. Then we were hit with the Blizzard of ‘78. That was our first winter in our new home. The snow continued and life stopped. Roads were impassable. Schools and businesses were closed. My dad and I saddled up the horses and we rode through the countryside to a little mom & pop store for some groceries. I remember the struggle of the horses to get through the deep snow. But they made it. And the store was open.
But as time went on and we were trapped inside the house together, things began to deteriorate. I realize now that this is when I first started to put on weight. I really didn’t have a weight issue until then. Between the move away from friends, the new school, and now being trapped at home, I broke. I ate to heal the sadness and depression and I’ve struggled with emotional eating ever since. That situation, all those decades ago, serves a purpose today. Lessons aren’t always learned immediately.
I didn’t handle the situation in a positive, healthy way. I only ate my way further into depression. With a snow storm, you know that in a relatively short period of time, the roads will clear and school will once again be in session. But today we are dealing with an unknown. An uncertainty of when life will return to normal. Therefore, we need to be aware and take precautionary measures to prevent depression and stay healthy in mind and body.
Below is my list of suggestions to help you through this rough patch. These are things I have found to be helpful in preserving me as a “whole” person during stressful times. I hope you will find something useful in this list.
GET DRESSED. We are pretty much confined to our homes. Yes, you can still go outside or run to the store, etc. But for the most part, we have no where to go, and reality is you are going to be home more. When I dress “sloppy” day in and day out, my emotional well-being becomes sloppy. I become more depressed and sad. Keep your body clean and put those jeans on. You will feel better when you take care of yourself.
MAKE YOUR BED. This is an important task in any day. It is your first sense of accomplishment. Wash your bedding. Keep it fresh and clean. If you are able, hang them out on the line when the weather is nice.
KEEP THE KITCHEN CLEAN. When we are home more we have a tendency to eat more. Don’t let the dishes stack up. Keep food put away. Clean up all the messes. Disinfect the counter tops and stove. Clean the fridge out too while you are at it. A clean kitchen is good for the soul…according to Andi.
OPEN THE BLINDS. Let the sun shine into your home as much as possible. Sunlight is perfect at combating depression. Sunlight kills germs too. Open the windows on warm days to air out the stink. Breathe it in!
GET UP AND MOVE. Don’t sit all day like I am doing as I write this blog. Move! Learn new dances. There are tons of exercise videos online as well. Moving your joints is necessary for good brain health. Get up in-between movies and dance your way to the pantry for that next snack. Just make the movement count. Feel it. Your body (and mind) will thank you. And a bonus would be to take some of that movement outdoors. Reconnect with nature and fill that bucket that has been depleted.
MAINTAIN PERSONAL HYGIENE. Keep your body clean. Shave. Brush your teeth. Put some makeup on if that makes you feel complete. Who cares if no one will see you other than those in your home. These are needed to maintain that “whole” person. You need to be a whole person.
EAT HEALTHY. Yes, I’m sure we’ve all stocked up on some goodies to get us through this “house arrest” period. Just remember that this isn’t permanent and things will go back to normal. Do you want to return heavier and less healthy? You will regret it. When we were trapped at home during the blizzard, I ate several peanut butter and jelly sandwiches per day. That was my “go to” comfort food. But it was detrimental to my weight. Keep sugar to a minimum. It messes with your blood sugar. It adds weight. It causes brain fog and depression, and it lowers your immune system. You kinda need a strong immune system right now.
TURN OFF THE NEWS. Do I need to elaborate? No. I didn’t think so.
LISTEN TO MUSIC. Music is food for the soul. Of course, silence is good at times too. But there’s just something about music…
READ. Read the Bible. Catch up on your reading list if you have one. Reading can take you away when you cannot physically go anywhere. Give your mind a break and make that escape.
BE MINDFUL OF OTHERS. Yes, it is true. We’ve become a “me, me, me” society. This isn’t the time to be focused on oneself. We are all struggling in this chaos, in this madness. No one is exempt. Most of us will suffer financially in some way. We are separated from friends and family whom we love. We are in this together. And we need to be mindful of those who are struggling more than ourselves. They are out there. Pay attention.
HUG THOSE YOU ARE SHELTERING WITH. Hugs do amazing things for the body and soul. We need physical touch from others. God designed us this way and it is a blessing. I will continue to hug my girls. Don’t let the closeness of living so tightly together keep you from hugging your kids or your spouse. This is the time when we need it most. Everyone needs their own space, yes, but come back together with love. Rejoice if you have a significant other. I do not, and more than once this past week, I wish I had someone to come home to. I have needed to bury my face in his chest and be held as I fall apart. Contrary to what many believe, I am not strong. At least not all the time. To have support from a significant other would make this time more bearable. So be thankful if you are in a loving relationship with someone who you can pull strength from and give comfort to.
BE THE RIGHT EXAMPLE. If you have children at home, you are being watched. They are not only looking to you for security and for answers, they are paying close attention to how you react in this situation. Be positive. Keep the majority of your breakdowns away from them. Not all of them, just most of them. They still need to see that sensitive part of you with the understanding that emotions are healthy and to be embraced. But they will struggle if all they see is you falling apart or being angry. You need to teach them. There is no better opportunity than now. Others may be watching you as well. Just do your best to keep your chin up, smile, and be positive.
I could add so much more to this list, but I’ve kept you long enough today. I think these few suggestions will make a huge difference during our sheltering days if we practice them.
Thank you for including me in your day. I hope that I’ve given you things to think about and it is my hope that this time brings us closer together with our families and with our community. Be grateful. Times will probably get harder before they get better, but let’s not let it break our spirit. I’m sending to each of you best wishes for safety and good health.
As always, the coffee is on. ♥️