Staying Home; How To Stay Sane.
So. Quarantine. Social Distancing. Physical Distancing. Whatever the proper term for staying indoors during this time is.
Fact: we are not going out.
Since locking our doors and staying in, I have kind of lost track of the days. Is it Friday today or was that the day before yesterday? 🙂
At first it felt like a holiday, or at least to the non candidate students in the house it did. There was no hurry, no pressure; it felt weird to see the kids at home after 7am on a weekday 🙂
We ‘strolled’ along without timetables or deadlines or any pressure.
I appreciate (for once) that I don’t have toddlers in the house who would want to go out for walkies.
A shout out to all the women in my life who I know have to say repeated exhausted NOs to their little ones who want to go bye bye. And to all mothers out there. I know you are taking on even more than you usually do. I acknowledge and appreciate you.
Teachers once again
But there is such a thing as ‘so much of a good thing’; we got quickly bored with the extra time on our hands and so back to the schedules we went.
Okay, so maybe the lorry loads of homework that showed up as links on my WhatsApp made sure of that for us.
The online classes for the kids involved even me (and I thought my days of supervising homework were done)
Teachers want the real IT route with Zoom and comments and group discussions and screen shots and other apps and impossible demands that had me emailing them. Of course, I used slightly more polite language in the emails than I had used with them in my head.
Chocolate and Everything Nice
School work or no, comfort food and other baked goods are still taking center stage and you can only say ” I shouldn’t be eating that!” so many times before giving in. When the whole world has gone mad, you are allowed to ‘treat’ yourself.
GOOD ADVICE: eat wholesome foods as well. Dessert related yummies are fine but they will not sustain or do you any health or energy favours in the long run.
Compassion for ourselves
All the humour aside being indoors can be……challenging. Especially if you are one who usually leaves home after sunrise and return a little before dark. And especially when you remember why we are all indoors in the first place.
I made the mistake of trying to compensate for all the things I could not do by taking on others that I believed I could do in the meantime.
I felt I ought to use this time optimally even when it was overwhelming just to think about the whole situation.
I realized then that I was missing the whole point of being home- for me at least. Nothing in the world is any kind of normal now. Is it an opportunity to slow down, enjoy the unexpected time away from it all or is it a time to put pressure on myself all over again? I should be doing this, I should have completed that, I should be ………..
The world is confusing and scary enough at the moment without us adding more anxiety and angst to it.
It is as if unless we are doing something, accomplishing something, being productive then we can’t be worthy. We feel almost guilty for being home, for not getting things done.
If you are not used to so much ‘togetherness’ the house can feel like a cage.
Our own twelve hundred square feet of living space starts to feel suffocating even though it is spacious enough otherwise.
Here is how to keep your sanity and your health while staying home:
1. List all the positives of being indoors.
Be thankful for them. When I wrote down my own list it grew to more than ten items. Even if they had been less than five I made a vow I would celebrate anyway. Gratitude is a miracle worker. There isn’t much we can do to change the situation anyway other than staying home; and being resentful is only going to make it worse.
This is so important for our overall mood and wellbeing. If you are up for it you can workout to one of the millions of exercise videos on the internet. Or exercise can be as simple as taking steps around the living room and across to the bedroom, the corridors and back again for a few minutes every hour.
There are many apps to help track your steps. If you don’t want to go that route you can just time yourself. Get up and walk around the house, the flat, the bed sitter, your tiny room but move!
Skip rope, hula hoop, jump in place, do planks and pushups, anything! Just move!
Get. Some. Sun!
Find a window, a corner of the house through which sunlight streams in, the balcony, (if you have a garden, a yard or live in the sticks, lucky you!) but get some sun! It will work miracles on your mood, energise you and it will help keep up those Vitamin D levels that are vital for our health. Make this non negotiable. You can thank me later.
4. Look for sights and listen to the sounds of nature.
It is a soothing balm to a restless spirit.
With less traffic and humans out and about I find birdsong is so much easier to hear and brightly coloured insects are showing up on our balcony walls.
If you are tightly sandwiched between houses try finding even a sliver of sky and enjoy it. Find a plant- anything. If all else fails, look at pictures of nature from the internet. If, like me, you have family leaving near the ocean, ask them to take pics and send them to you.
5. Spend time with family.
It might seem stupid to suggest spending time with the family when you are all indoors together but don’t be surprised when everyone is absorbed in their own things in their own corners of the home. Sit together and tell stories, play games and laugh. Catch up with your loved ones, prepare meals, coordinate household chores and just appreciate this time.
6. Time Out
To avoid feeling suffocated take time out to go hide in your corner for a few minutes each day. Read, pray or do whatever relaxes you and recharges your batteries. Breathe. Listen to your inner voice. Hear what it has to say.
But don’t cut yourself off from the other people in the home.
For Allah’s sake stay away from the news. It will only agitate you further and increase the feeling of doom and gloom. None of us needs that right now.
Mums of little ones time for yourself is crucial. You need this. Don’t be hesitant to ask for help.
Take turns with your spouse to look after the little ones so you each can get rest. Find a way!
7. Write it Down.
Write down all the things you intend to do once it is declared safe for everyone to be outdoors, Allah willing. Plan elaborately and look forward to it with enthusiasm and glee. My list is long and getting longer by the day. Read through it and see if your spirits aren’t lifted.
8. Reach out to those who live alone.
As much as we might feel congested indoors, there are others who would give anything for the company. We can reach out every so often and hang out with them via any of the video chat services. We can call out to them from the balcony if they are within shouting distance. Or just plain call them.
If you live alone, well, enjoy the seclusion 🙂
9. Sad Reality
Going out, for whatever the purpose, is a relief for most of us. For those who go through repeated physical and (or emotional) abuse at home it can mean the difference between life and death. Work or school can be their only relief. I want you to know wherever you are I am thinking and praying for you. If you can talk to someone about it do so. Seek help from wherever you can find it may Allah be with you. You can also find help here.
As usual I left the best for last. With prayer all is made easier and lighter. Pray. Confide your worries and concerns to Him.
This will pass.
“And, behold, with every hardship comes ease. Verily, with every hardship comes ease! “ The Holy Quran; Chapter: 94 Verse 5–6