As we enter week TEN (insert mind blown emoji here) of quarantine, I thought I’d share some things I’ve been doing that have helped keep my mental health in check during this awful time. It’s no surprise that when this all began, I was not okay. I was pretty transparent about how my anxiety about the unknown was raging, I was depressed due to having my world pulled out from under me, and just generally I wasn’t handling it well. I really do feel I’ve found my stride in acceptance of this as our new normal, and I wanted to share my strategies, in the hopes of helping others.
In Ontario, a lot is re-opening after this long weekend. This does provide some comfort because the government thinks we’re ready to loosen restrictions, but because I think most people will still opt to stay home a while longer, here’s what has helped me:
1. Daily Routine
We’ve established a really great schedule for the last month or so. Right after breakfast, I head to the mat for my daily workout. Days I don’t exercise, I obviously don’t feel as great mentally or physically. It doesn’t necessarily even have to be high impact, but just 30 mins of low intensity exercise is great for endorphins and helps me mentally tackle the day. It also gives me the energy I need to be productive.
After my workout, we do homeschool for a couple of hours. Truthfully, this is not my favourite part of the day, but it’s so important for the kids because it gives them a sense of normalcy, and ensures they don’t fall too far behind. I’m not the most patient teacher, so I often end up typing while they dictate, but honestly, I’ve made my peace with the fact that we’re “cheating,” because I’m not trying to be at the computer all day while my daughter types one letter at a time. Shhh, don’t tell her teacher.
2. Vitamin D
As part of our daily schedule, we take walks outside every day after lunch. The weather in Toronto is really hit and miss, and most days have either been super cold, or rainy (worst spring ever), but on days where the sun is shining, this is my happy time. I’ve also been incorporating mantras into my daily practice to help me get through this, so seeing that someone has painted rocks with “this will pass,” and other motivating words and phrases, has kept me going a lot of the time where I’ve felt really down. To the kind soul who did this, I love you (unless it’s the neighbor I really despise…I don’t love you).
If you follow me on Insta (@theathleisureteacher, shameless plug) and watch my stories, you’ll see I always post a “hype song of the day.” Music helps fuel me in so many ways. I listen to upbeat songs of varying genres to get excited for my workouts, stay positive, energize me, etc. Music helps a lot of people cope, and truly, there is nothing better than an impromptu dance party to get you through hard times.
4. Fueling myself with proper nutrition
We do takeout 1-2 times a week, but otherwise we’re eating pretty healthy at home. I have been mostly plant-based for a while now, and only eat meat maybe 30% of the time max. My body craves veggies and carbs, so that’s what the majority of my diet is, and this helps to keep me satiated, and my brain and body functioning at optimal capacity. A lot of people have been baking up a storm in quarantine and finding comfort in that, but yeah, that’s not me. I do snack a lot throughout the day, but I mostly do vegan protein gummies, Greek yogurt, or a fruit for a snack. That being said, if I have a craving, I honor it, and have been indulging from time to time.
5. Staying strong for them
This is a biiiiiiig one for me. My kids will always be the reason I wake up daily and have purpose, drive, and motivation to keep going. I can’t wallow in bed or show my anxiety visibly, because they need me. Sometimes I find myself expressing negative thoughts about all of this in front of them, and then my daughter starts to echo them. I’m cognizant of this, so I make a concerted effort just to project strength, hope, and positivity. Lately we’re starting to realize I will likely be home with them all summer and camp won’t be an option, and although I’m selfishly shattered by this (how *will* I be a lady who lunches with kids in tow?), I’m trying to frame it like “don’t worry, we’ll still have a fun summer.” I know there are many people who will have to continue to work from home all summer with their kids there, and I guess I should just be grateful as a teacher that I likely won’t have to work and will have the time with them.
6. Distance visits
This is a new one for us. As regulations start to ease, I’ve started seeing friends again from 6 feet away. As sad as it is, not being able to hug them or get close, this fills my cup in ways a Zoom chat never will. I also see my parents from a distance, and was so grateful just to be able to sit outside with them last weekend on Mother’s Day. Social distancing is something that will be present in our lives for a long time I think, so getting accustomed to it now is best for me personally. I wasn’t really up for it until last weekend, but now I feel great about it, as long as precautions are met.