Our homes are our castles. Places of refuge and comfort. In these trying times, however, they can also feel a little less luxurious and a little more restricting. Sheltering-in-place is key to keeping us, our families, and our communities safe but it also comes with a few challenges.
Check out our tips for keeping your sanity while at home.
Self-Distraction: Everything Old is New Again
Retro isn't just for fashion anymore. Those old books, photo albums, and journals you have stored away are sources of inspiration, if not simply a means of distraction. Take a trip to your storage unit—a contact-free errand—and then take a trip down memory lane. Here are a few specific ideas for enjoying a blast from the past:
- Make a presentation of it. Live with roommates, a partner, kids? Chances are most of them didn't know you during your grunge phase, or when you had braces, or for those 3 years you wore the same Donald Duck t-shirt every day of the week. Show them your, er, proudest moments (ok, maybe do a little bit of curating) and ask them to show you yours. Guaranteed to get some laughs and spark conversation. Take a cue from the popular event Mortified Live and share poetry, journal entries, or old videos. As Dick Van Dyke said, "You have to be able to laugh at yourself. Attitude is almost more important than what happens to you."
- Share the love, analog-style. So, you've stumbled across a pic of you and your college roommate at a tailgate circa 2001. Put that magic in an envelope with a note. Reaching out to a friend is not only an act of kindness that will brighten someone's day, it's also good for your health! Feeling connected to friends helps boost your happiness and eases stress.
- Get those toys back in circulation. Out of sight, out of mind applies first and foremost to kids and toys. If you’ve got classic toys from your childhood in storage, now is the time to pull them out for the next generation. Chances are good the kids will be delighted either by the antiquities of yore you’ve packed away or the chance to make fun of mom and dad for what passed as entertainment in the analog days. A win-win in any event. And if the kids are less than impressed, or if you need a little more to keep yourself engaged, check out some of the wacky ways to repurpose old toys into creative new creations.
Self-Care: There is a Middle Ground
If Instagram is to be believed, there are really only two options for how to spend our stay-at-home-time. We can either embrace the jammies, the streaming services, and the thrice-daily nap routine, or we can write the next great American novel, build that pergola we've been thinking about, and become an American Ninja Warrior. While many of us may ricochet between the two and find ourselves disappointed in all outcomes, there is a middle path! Keep these tips in mind to help carve out your own mix of productivity and idleness.
- Adjust your metrics. How do you measure productivity? It could be the benchmarks you've used in the past aren't applicable. Six months ago, productivity may have meant a Pilates class, six hours of meetings, and either kids' soccer practice or a happy hour. As those options aren't available to you now, reconsider what you put in your "activities" column. Reading a book with your kiddo or listening to a podcast on Harriet Tubman may be your new markers of accomplishment. And the only way there is anything wrong with that is if you deem such activities as a waste of your time. Reframe your thinking from measuring "output" to measuring the value of an activity in your life. This refocus will also help you consider how you want to feel, not just what you want to accomplish.
- Disconnect your productivity from your self-worth. Let's face it, we are often measured by our accomplishments and how busy we appear, reinforcing the sense that our purpose and worth is tied to our productivity. This equation is akin to the photo-shopped fitness magazine covers we see all the time. Give yourself a mental makeover and let go of unrealistic expectations, be they centered on abs of steel or unlimited productivity no matter the circumstances.
- Baby steps. If you need some extra help finding your middle road, consider giving yourself a small task to tackle each day. (Note the word "tackle" in place of "accomplish.") Try to ground those tasks in things you value. Friends and family? Write a heartfelt email. Creativity? Do some sketching or free-writing. Learning? Try a free online course via Kahn Academy. Start with small, unintimidating increments of time and work your way up. Don't forget the power of the space around you. Organizing and decluttering your physical space can be invigorating and is also shown to reduce anxiety. Not to mention it can help that home feel like a palace again!
Finally, take things one day at a time. Whether you are reframing old photos or reframing your views on what makes you productive these days, be kind to yourself. You got this!