Adjusting to the new normal
I was racking my brain on what to write in this week’s article. I generally write on topics on or around the work we do at RPS.academy. This seems insignificant now in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. I, like all of us, never expected to experience anything like this. My heart goes out to all my friends and family all over the world, many of whom find themselves quarantined or facing massive restrictions to their movements.
For this week’s article, I wanted to share the few things I and my family are doing to keep us going after the first week of the coronavirus new normal.
Keep a routine
My wife is a schoolteacher here locally. I have been impressed by her and her colleagues’ diligence in keeping a normal pattern going for themselves and their students. We can all learn from this.
Routines are very important. According to Blurt, a website dedicated to helping those affected by depression: “a daily routine can help us to feel more in control of everything and help us to make room for all that’s important. Routine can aid our mental health. It can help us to cope with change, to form healthy habits, and to reduce our stress levels.”
Find some time for yourself
I love my wife and children but personally, I need an hour of alone time each day. Pre-virus, this was not an issue. I often find solitude on the daily commute, between meetings or walking the dog. With us all home together now, I have found that I needed to change my routine to schedule in some time for myself.
Actually, being alone every now and then has quite a few benefits. Sherrie Bourg Carter shares some of these positive outcomes via her blog 6 Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone in Psychology Today, including: "Solitude helps you work through problems more effectively."
In fact, it was during my alone time today that I took the cover photo and sketched out this article.
Go outside if you can
Thankfully I live in a semi-rural environment within a municipality that has not restricted us to go outdoors. So for me, getting access to nature is not a problem. I know for some of our readers this is not the case.
Daily, I am outside for at least one hour. Sometimes this is in conjunction with my alone time. On other days, I am with the family doing some outdoor activity together such as biking, nature walking, or yard work.
Being outside is very important for mental health. According to Time Magazine: “Spending time outdoors, especially in green spaces, is one of the fastest ways to improve your health and happiness. It’s been shown to lower stress, blood pressure and heart rate, while encouraging physical activity and buoying mood and mental health. Some research even suggests that green space is associated with a lower risk of developing psychiatric disorders”
Be mindful of those around you
I know that I have it good right now. My family and I are well, we are all together and we can still spend time outdoors. My heart goes out to all, who are not as fortunate and struggling with the unprecedented situation we are facing currently. Sadly, I have heard from some that the situation they are in, or collectively we are all in, is someone’s or some country's fault. Placing blame will not make the virus go away!
Now is the time that we need to understand and help those around us as best we can. We must be empathetic to the needs to others and use this understanding to inform our actions. Roman Krznaric shares some effective strategies to incorporate increased empathy in his essay Six Habits of Highly Empathic People from Berkeley University’s Greater Good Magazine including: "Challenge prejudices and discover commonalities".
The Dow is down over 1000 points, the stores have run out of toilet paper, our civic leaders are telling us to stay at home. In times like this, it is easy to panic. Don’t do it. This too shall pass.
There was a great article in The Guardian this week about being stoic in these times of crisis. The author shares some learnings from the Stoic philosopher Epictetus including: “Circumstances don’t make the man, they only reveal him to himself.”
In the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in today, we will learn much about ourselves, our leaders and our communities. The decisions we make as a result of these issues will help shape the future. I, for one, am going to do my level best to be a good father, husband, and neighbor.
What is your perspective? What strategies are you using to make sense of the situation you find yourself in today? Please join the conversation.
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Thanks to all for reading and stay healthy!