Whilst these last six months have been extremely challenging for many people across the globe, I have found that my normal routine has not changed all that much. Working virtually has been a way of life for me for over 10 years, so I haven’t had to adapt the way I work. The social and emotional sides of life, however, have presented a bigger challenge. I have had to create a plan of action so as not to feel too isolated: as not much of a planner, this has been something I have had to slowly come to grips with.
I live alone except for Dixie, my elderly cat. I tend to be a homebody during the week, but I do enjoy socializing on the weekends; however, this came to a screeching halt at the start of the pandemic. The hardest part of it all was not being able to visit my 88-year-old mother who lives just three miles away, to protect her health and not put her at risk.
Here are seven strategies that I have found useful to help keep my sanity:
Self-Care – When the pandemic hit, I had already committed to a healthy eating, weight loss program. The discipline and commitment from sticking to this plan, has helped me feel good and kept me from stress eating (which is my default coping strategy) and has improved my overall health.
Curation – By intentionally screening and filtering people, news, and situations, I am being very careful in choosing who I interact with. This is all to limit my exposure to the news, social media, and other potential stressors, with the overall intention to be around positive energy as much as possible.
Spending Time Amongst Nature – I love to walk and I’m fortunate enough to live in an area with a lot of parks. Being around nature provides fresh air, a spiritual connection, and physical activity and exercise, which is also good for one’s mindset and health.
Connection – At the start of the pandemic, recognizing the need for friendship and comfort, I invited my college buddies to a Zoom Happy Hour, which has since become a weekly tradition we all look forward to. Being connected to loved ones is important for our body, mind, and spirit.
I cherish my online weekly mastermind group: on the surface, this offers business connection, but also check-ins, project progress, support, accountability, and real human connection and laughter.
Fun – There was the dire need for more fun to keep my spirits up, and I realized I needed to go beyond binge watching Netflix for entertainment. To date, I have finished a piece of artwork that I had started ages ago and had been collecting dust; I downloaded an app to improve my rusty French; and, I have started to try to learn Bollywood dancing.
Vicarious Travel – It’s hard not being able to travel, but rather than whine about it, I have become an ‘armchair traveler’. Admittedly, it’s not the same thing as going places in person, but I have enjoyed TV shows, movies, and books set in places where I’d like to visit, along with bingeing House Hunters International which helps advance my plan to relocate abroad.
Nesting – Spending a lot of time at home without big distractions helps you see your home in ways you probably haven’t before, noticing things that you hadn’t seen or otherwise simply ignored. I have taken to making some minor fixes, from repainting the hallway and repairing a broken lamp, to upgrading my decor. I even created a cozy reading area in my bedroom by adding a new chair, lamp, and rug.
Whilst the effects of living alone have been intensified during the pandemic, I am very thankful for my grumpy old feline who keeps me company – making me get up to feed her is a constant reminder that I am not alone. My eating plan has helped me tremendously: in fact, I have lost 28lbs to date. I’ve even reconnected with a few long-distance friends, who I now speak to regularly and they help me feel connected. I now do some socially distant walks in the park with friends, while wearing masks of course.
It’s certainly not easy, but for however long this goes on, me and Ms. Somewhat-Grumpy Cat have figured out how to make the most of our time.