After months of social distancing, families are spending less time with others as the pandemic continues to stay. Cancelled summer plans, getaways, vacations, all make it hard to keep your spirits up. Don’t ignore your feelings, because they will bubble up and resurface in a nonhealthy way. I’ve listed 10 things that have helped me keep my spirits up during this difficult time as a wife, parent, and business owner during pandemic-fatigue!
- Get outside! I’ve said it before but sunshine and being outdoors can really help brighten your mood. Ideally, 30-60 minutes outdoors daily with you kids or other members of the family can help. If that’s not possible, even 10-15 minutes can be beneficial. Try to avoid peak sun hours between 10am-4pm and wear sunscreen to keep sun damage at bay!
- Sleep hygiene. I’m guilty of getting a great routine for my daughter but allowing my own sleep hygiene to fall by the wayside. Stick to a solid routine for yourself as well. Maybe a shower or bath before bed, reading instead of scrolling on your phone or digital devices before sleep, or even making sure you’re getting 6-8 hours of sleep a night. Studies even show sleeping less than 6 hours a night can affect the efficiency of your immune system.
- Don’t neglect nutrition! It’s overwhelming to cook all the time, to not order in. I recommend allowing yourself a break in the week if it helps you and your stress levels. Just try not to eat too many unhealthy foods. Protein rich foods help keep you fuller longer and don’t allow a huge spike in blood sugar and insulin, making you feel sluggish afterward. Junk food or fast food is often full of fat, cholesterol, and salt, which can also harm our energy levels and put us in a slump.
- Gratitude. Try to practice gratitude daily for yourself. It’s hard to feel appreciative of the positive, your health, your home, your family. This pandemic has robbed many families of all of those items. Research shows that regularly expressing gratitude helps boost overall happiness, leading to lower rates of stress and depression. Get your child involved in gratitude journaling as well and writing down at least three people, places, events, or things each day that make him or her feel thankful.
- Talk it out. Don’t be afraid to talk to others. As adults, we tend to bottle up our thoughts and emotions so we can remain happy for our children. Just like children benefit from us being good listeners, we parents also need to be able to talk out our worries and thoughts. Don’t push yourself to keep going if you feel you can’t do it alone or are struggling and feeling overwhelmed.
- Get your heart rate up! Rather than anxiety driving your heart rate up, turn to exercise to release endorphins and allow you to work out nervous energy. Many gyms are offering outdoor classes which let you get a 2 for 1 bang for your buck when it comes to mood boosting activities!
- Help a friend. Helping other people helps us make feel about ourselves. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it's pleasurable. Really! The “helper’s high” may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful. Help can come in any shape or size, big or small. The size, or the amount, of help is not so much the point as is the gesture of genuinely wanting to help. The emphasis being on the ‘genuine’ part.
- Stretch. Whether you work out or not, try to fit in a stretch. It doesn’t have to be yoga, but even some gentle stretches to counteract tech-neck or bad posture from sitting all day can be helpful. Deep breathing during these stretches can work wonders to help with rising anxiety.
- Manage screen time wisely. Don’t let your screen limits slip up for too long during this time. Try to abide by your family’s media plan. Work on incorporating activities like reading, playing cards, puzzles, or board games with family members. Electronic devices can also be sued to create and maintain healthy social connections and relationships during this difficult time. Your kids may be using technology for educational programs or facetime with family members, so not all screen time is bad for the family during this time. You just need to keep healthy limits and checks in place.
- Recognize the power of No. Just because you’re working from home or may have more free time on your hands doesn’t mean you have to commit to everything. Being overcommitted can be draining, and sometimes feel like you are putting in more time but getting less done- a clear sign of being overworked. The harder we push ourselves, the more we may end up compromising our productivity. Recognize if you are over committed and have spread yourself too thin. Learn to say No to projects and tasks if you feel you’re already working at full capacity.
Remember, you’re only human and you must take care of yourself first, so you can continue to be a strong parent for your children. The pandemic appears to not be slowing down in many areas of the nation. We are likely in this for the long haul of the rest of 2020 in some way, shape, or form when it comes to practicing safe protocols and taking precautions. Take whatever steps you can to keep pandemic fatigue at bay.