One day I was posting about #LivingTheDream and the next day the Covid-19 pandemic was sweeping through Canada. This never-ending story of #isolation has me feeling like I’m stuck in a ground hog day loop.
Alas we’re finally here! We made it.
Happy actual ground hog day!
I’ve chosen to view staying in is as a privilege, for sure, but this knowledge hasn’t been enough for me to separate one day from the next. Especially since my former coping skills were dining out, or getting together with friends.
Simple questions have become existential, like “Why does my daughter enjoy playing that song on repeat for six hours a day?” or “At what point do I attempt to die my own hair?” it’s really time to get myself together.
Unfortunately, even the best self-help books don’t have a How-to-Quarantine section (or for some of us, how to continue work in these increasingly fearful times).
I discovered that there isn’t a pandemic self-care guide to cover the very real and difficult decisions about how we should take care of ourselves during the loneliest days of our lives.
I already know the drill: drink water, get seven to eight hours of sleep, eat nourishing food, exercise enough to get my heart rate up for 20 to 30 minutes two to three times per week… But it’s a pandemic! Doing all this was hard on a normal pre-pandemic day, and it’s simply not enough to help me stay healthy and balanced right now.
I need something else. My old routines have gone out the window.
I needed to find a new strategy to create a repetition-smashing routine that actually gives me space to grow while I’m in isolation. This is what I did to get out the ground hog day loop.
Varying my routine was the key to beating the blues. I mixed-up the techniques below to keep myself entertained and get work done. My big tip is to use the pomodoro technique on workdays, that way all my days don’t blend into one.
Pomodoro Technique (pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato)
A smart guy, in the late 1980s, named Francesco Cirillio developed a time management method called the Pomodoro Technique;
Begin by tracking your progress with checkmarks on paper.
Work in 25-minute intervals; after every interval give yourself a checkmark.
Take short breaks in between. After four 25-minute work blocks, take a longer break.
If you get distracted or interrupted during one of the 25-minute blocks, don’t let it side-track you, be mindful of this time management method; write down the distraction on a piece of paper and return to the original task.
Space out your learning with breaks, so you’ll be able to focus for longer periods of time, while also allowing your brain to actually process all of that new information.
•Long research projects that have no actionable end task
•Being mindful when using distraction techniques to help with anxiety
•Checking in with yourself on a bad mental health day
Goal setting is a great way to figuring out what matters to you and what you want to get done each day. Order your goals by importance to you and by deadline urgency.
Make two columns and rank each goal from most urgent to least important.
If to-do lists seem overwhelming, try time blocking, also known as time boxing.
•Start by setting aside a specific time to work on a task or project.
•Keep your focus simple and flexible.
•Great for daily or weekly schedules
•Working through emotional distress via self-reflection, meditation or distraction
•Working on long-term projects with no concrete deadline
•Creative projects or skill building techniques
Feelings Based Routine
How are you feeling today? Whether you’re happy, content, and positive or feeling dull and blue. Embrace that and be mindful of the way you feel. Then do whatever helps you spring back to being content, whatever that is. Escape is hard to come by so if you’re feeling stressed that means spending the day watching Netflix and eating popcorn a’int such a bad thing. That distraction may be exactly what your mind needs. Allowing for this spontaneity is how you can prevent one day from feeling the same as the next.
However; if you’re feeling the clouds of doom, don’t do whatever you want. Don’t allow negative emotions to write your story.
Emotions can derail your day. Sort through these feelings and block some time for naming your emotions — It’s harder than it seems, especially during a global pandemic.
Growth doesn’t come because we get stuff done. Growth comes when we learn enjoyable ways to satisfy our needs. Mute the sirens in your head; or at least learn to turn them down. minute blocks of TV, nap, and escapism activities to help distract you from the day. Then look back and realize: You made it.
While no strategy can remedy all of the concerns (financial woes, family matters and the general virus), always schedule time in your day or week to practice radical self-compassion.
By grounding ourselves in routines of self-care and compassion, we’re better able to help the people around us without being affected by fear and anxiety.