Like you, I find myself feeling a bit anxious about the roller coaster of the stock market, the constant emails and the CNN Alerts I receive about the latest COVID-19 warning, plus the ever-present worry of “Will I run out of toilet paper?”
I don’t think I will run out of toilet paper, but I’ve decided I am only going to worry about things that are within my control. Once I decided that, it made things feel more, well, controllable.
So, I wanted to share some ideas with you to help you take advantage of all the time we will have on our hands, since we can’t go to bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, concerts, meetings or parties.
- Take up daily meditation. I personally spend 20 minutes every morning listening to an app on my phone. The essential focus is on remaining calm by being in a quiet place and sitting with your eyes closed. I use deep breathing to lower my heart rate, clear my mind and create a sense of calm. I meditate first thing when I get up in the morning. What a great way to start the day.
- Every day, clean a room, a drawer, a cabinet or desk. This past weekend, we tackled the cabinets under the sink in our bathroom. It’s kind of cathartic to pull everything out, wipe down the cabinet, throw out everything expired or duplicates, and then rearrange in clear plastic bins/shoe boxes. It’s so much easier to find everything! And it gives you a small dose of personal satisfaction for accomplishing something when you can see immediate results.
- Set aside an hour each day and take a brisk walk or bike ride. Exercising is important during times of stress, and since your gym is closed, you should be careful that you don’t stop exercising all together. If you miss the free weights and TR-X straps at the gym, try using cans or water bottles as weights and order a Stretchable strap from Amazon to do your own homemade TR-X workout.
- Sleep at least 7.5-8 hours a night. The single biggest thing you can do to deal with stress, make better decisions, feel good about yourself and not be snappy with your family is to get a good night’s sleep! I personally have been following the practice of having a set bedtime and wake time, and it has made the sleep routine so much easier.
- Catch up on reading. Both at home and at work, I have a stack of magazines that I need to read. One a day is plenty … and it’s a great opportunity to learn something new without the commitment of reading a whole book.
- Experiment with cooking. I always find the chefs on The Food Network fascinating to watch. I especially like the show “Chopped.” Why not take a few unusual ingredients from your pantry or refrigerator and figure out a new recipe to make? You can go to epicurous.com or my latest favorite source www.food52.com and enter the ingredients you want to use or the type of dish you want to make and voila! Is your grocery store out of apples, oranges and bananas? This is a great time to buy a whole jackfruit and learn how to break it down and freeze it. Better yet, use it to make an excellent chili. Big batch cooking will help you stock the freezer with something fresh to enjoy later on.
- It’s spring … how about gardening? Time to pull weeds, till the soil and plant some flowers or vegetable plants in your front or back yard. Touching the earth (albeit with gardening gloves on) can be grounding. And, again, by planting flowers in your yard, it will give you something to smile about when you go outside or arrive home.
- Organize your emails. I don’t know about you, but I have too many emails in my inbox and other folders. But I’m afraid to really delete them, in case I might need some info. Why not allocate some time during the week to organize your emails? I know in the last few days I have discovered emails I never responded to or found a few that needed action.
- Help others who are quarantined. Do you have friends or family who cannot go to the grocery store, get their prescriptions picked up or just need an errand run? My assistant Tricia shared with me this morning what she was able to do for her mother, who is elderly, including calling her doctor’s office and getting her prescriptions changed to “deliver by mail on auto-fill.” It reduced anxiety and worry for her mother, and I’m sure gave Tricia a feeling of satisfaction by helping her mom. Who can you help?
- Call a friend or family member. (Or hand write a letter.) In this age of texting, Instagram and Facebook, we’ve lost the art of old-fashioned personal communication. I personally enjoy penning a note to a friend to thank them and during my commute to and from work each day, I used the time to connect with friends and family by phone. Since I am now working from home for the next couple of weeks, I plan to make time to phone a friend each day, to stay connected.
I hope these ideas inspire you to look at the bright side of this new era we are living in. And I welcome your ideas for filling in all this free time we now have on our hands.