WRP sistah and friend Julie Howard has these recommendations for sanity:
My dear friend and fellow New York sistah Charlotte O’Shay has been self isolating for the past few weeks and gives these tips for coping:
“Covid-19 is war. With a large immediate and extended family in the New York metro area and with some including me with underlying respiratory vulnerabilities, we have to win it.
Living as we do, cheek by jowl in NYC, is a challenge even in the best of times and these days are not the best of times. Here are some of my coping methods.
FaceTime conference calls with family and friends, photo-sharing, recipe sharing, story sharing, joke sharing. We’re sitting around a big virtual dinner table cheering each other up and on. This is not easy as many of us have been furloughed, let go or business has plain stopped during the pandemic.
My husband and I have been self-isolated for 10 days. We structure our days as work days, take a break to walk at day’s end while keeping social distance. Saturday spent cleaning.
Constant hand washing, reading, writing, meditation, prayer, listening to music. Last night we had a mini James Taylor concert via Spotify. After actual though virtual work, husband reads Hemingway and binge watches the Last Kingdom. I’ve written 75% of a new indie romance.
My mom raised us to respect a dollar and water down eggs and tomato sauce to stretch the meal and I’ve been doing the same. It’s a challenge to see what I can come up with out of my pantry and it’s distressing and depressing to see some hoard. My sister and I scoured NYC to grocery shop for my disabled brother and elderly mom. We continue to give to charities like Food Bank. Their work providing food to those with food insecurity is more important than ever and my kids have given as well. When I couldn’t buy corned beef anywhere, we picked up corned beef takeout for St. Patrick’s Day and I’ve ordered takeout from two local restaurants which we are allowed to do with precautions of surface cleaning and hand washing.
I’m not really baking aside from sodabread for St. Patrick’s Day. With all of the enforced inactivity and pasta, I don’t need the calories though I confess I’ve eaten much more than my fair share of cheese lately.
#5-Only listen to/read trusted news sources. This is very important. Gov. Cuomo’s news conferences, WHO, Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Info, NHI, CDC are the sources of my information.
#6-Social media distancing-while I try to find the humor in anything I post or read in this unnerving time, I confess I’ve never been a big fan of social media. I’m having trouble watching people via FB or Instagram or Twitter who aren’t seeing this pandemic for what it is when so many of their fellow American health care professionals, first responders and other essential workers are going all out and risking their health to serve and protect.
#7-I’m reading A LOT and I’m guessing others are too. I’ve put my books on sale.”
When this is over I want to give everyone in my life a big hug.!
Peggy here: me, too!!!
One of my newer WRP sistahs, Marilyn Barr sent me this heartfelt email about getting through these trying times:
Six years ago, my son was diagnosed with multiple autoimmune diseases and declared too sick for school by our local private school. I quit my job as a public school teacher to manage his medical care and homeschool him. He has grown stronger over the years and can now handle moderate groups of kids for short periods. He will be exhausted but with his immunotherapy, he will not contract illnesses from the limited exposure. We must carefully examine every acceptable risk which leads to some hard choices for my husband and me. When we made these life changes, it was a difficult transition but it has been worth it. These are my top 5 tips and tricks to being in isolation.
· Replace the rhythm supplied by school and work. Having work or school meant a schedule of activities leading to a natural rhythm. Being devoid of this can be jarring to our systems and can cause anxiety. You can recreate the rhythm by setting alarms on your phone at the same time each day for a special activity or having a theme each day of the week. In my house, Laundry Day is Friday, In-house Date Night with my spouse is Thursday, Baking Day is Wednesday, Deep Cleaning is Tuesday, Trash Day is Monday, Sunday is Yardwork Day (year-round) and Saturday is Game Tournament day. Some daily themes are more fun than others. Every day my phone has alarms for 5:00 am writing time, 11:11 am meditation, 2:30 pm yoga, 4:00 pm silent reading, and 9:30 pm star-gazing and moon-spotting.
· Balance screen time with screen-free activities. Screens provide enjoyment but can eat up a large portion of our day. Parents are grateful for the temporary peace screen-time provides until their children become dysregulated from too much exposure to artificial lights and stimulation. By utilizing the alarms on my phone, I can break up blocks of screen time with low-tech activities to give my son’s eyes a rest. My favorite screen reset activities are yoga and meditation because they calm his nervous system further. However, a nature walk, time spent playing with the cats and practicing his piano are all healthy activities. Silent reading, playing cards, and craft projects also help process some of the stimulus provided by screen time.
· Maintain pride in your appearance and surroundings. While pajama day once in a while is fun, ignoring hygiene makes for unpleasant-smelling roommates. I always feel better when I look better and hypothesize it is the real reason why Donna Reed vacuumed in her pearls while her family was at work/school. Maintaining shower schedules, housecleaning schedules, and hygiene routines all contribute to the daily rhythm which regulates our emotions. I highly recommend taking this one step further and dressing up once a week for a candlelight dinner in your dining room complete with your favorite outfit, make-up (if you wear it), heels, special jewelry, and cologne. You will be amazed at how special you feel being dressed up when you have nowhere to go.
· Utilize technology to create worldwide social opportunities. While my son has never been to school, he takes live classes on Outschool.com. In his French book club, he met his best friend who lives in Belgium. He sings in a choir whose director is in Calgary Canada. He learned electronic dance music equipment and toured his teacher’s club booth in England in virtual music remixing class. He met some of his French social club friends on our last vacation to Montreal. Zoom, Facetime and some MMOs provide ways to connect with friends virtually.
· Brainstorm curiosities you didn’t previously have time to pursue. Instead of lamenting the extra time you have, you can turn it into a positive one. What have you always wanted to study but never had the time? I have always wanted to visit the megaliths of England and was excited to find free virtual tours of the world’s landmarks offered to bust quarantine boredom. Also, if you are like me, your TBR tower reaches for the ceiling. Reading new books and having the time to leave reviews has been a bonus for both myself and my son. Nothing gives him more satisfaction than reading his opinions on his school materials to us. (My last planned science lesson got “zero stars – does not recommend” with “change science to poetry” as the suggested recommendation for service improvement.)
I hope this can provide some inspiration for those thrust into a different lifestyle. The hardest part of isolation is providing the natural rhythm and structure for yourself and maintaining your standards of living with no outside motivation. By balancing the fun of reduced responsibilities with the needs of our sensory systems, we can recreate the inner harmony to stay happy and well-adjusted.
And my friend Maria Imbalzano has this wonderful take on how to cope:
We all have predictable schedules during our normal lives and we usually can’t get it all done. Now that we are working from home and have more time for ourselves, you may want to consider some of the things I do every day when I take a break from working on my novel.
- Read the New York Times and a Local Paper
- Do a Crossword Puzzle, cryptoquip, scramble, and/or sudoku
- Read a book
- Pick up the phone and have a conversation with a friend or relative
- Start a jigsaw puzzle (can you tell I like puzzles of all kinds)
- Take a walk outside or some other exercise
The following I should add to my list, but the jury is out.
- Clean out a closet or drawer
- Cook something good
Great ideas I saw on the internet
- Take a virtual tour of one of 12 museums around the world
- Take a dance lesson
- Borrow one of 500,000 books free from the New York Public Library
- Take a virtual trip to an aquarium or zoo
Is it any wonder I love my writing sistahs sososos much??
Until next time, peeps: WASH YOUR HANDS!!!