We have appeared in two contradictory settings. In our homes, the safest places. In uncertainty, the biggest of our lifetimes.
I should be used to this.
I’ve been working from home for the past 17 years. My wife has been at home with me for the last 7 years. First with the older son, now with the younger one. It was only our older son who joined us when restrictions went into effect.
Unlike the brave people who fight the virus on the front-line (thank you!), most of us don’t face the threat directly.
Yet, the uncertainty hunts us down in our shelters. It doesn’t matter if we’ve spent most of our working life at home or are working from home for the first time. Stress and anxiety as the results of uncertainty can have a big psychological impact on us.
Below are some tips on what we can do to cope with them. We are stuck at home but we can still learn fresh things, gain new skills or change our attitude.
Personally, I plan to focus on improving my sleep (tip #9), which is an area I’ve neglected for a long time. To support that I’m trying out digital detox (#1) and meditation (#8). Being at home together is also an excellent opportunity to build a healthy attachment with our kids (#10).
What about you? Is anything from the list on your own list? Do you have any other tips? Share them in the comments below.
1) Do a digital detox
Two weeks ago, my phone broke. Shops with electronics were already closed. As I was waiting for my online order to arrive, I decided it was a good time to try a digital detox. Halting the constant stream of bad news for a while looked like something my mental health could enjoy.
I didn’t check any news or social media for a week, and it was a relief.
After a week I felt more focused, more patient, and with more time and energy for everything.
Yes, you need to know what’s going on. The current news has turned into giant breaking news, though. It can be very demanding to keep up with it. Unless you need news for your work, a good strategy is to check it shortly a few times a day. Avoid doing so before going to bed.
Writer John Green (Looking for Alaska, The Fault is In Our Stars) shares his experience of quitting social media:
Mr. Obvious on our list. But when, if not now? Exercise is more a state of mind. Do it until it becomes a habit that you’ll miss. You know, the endorphins.
The possibilities are endless – yoga, stretching, bodyweight training, calisthenics, interval training, balance training, …
If I should get one piece of home equipment, it would be a pull-up bar. Start with dead hangs, which have many health benefits.
Struggle to find time for exercise? Check out a micro workouts playlist from Matt Schifferle. Matt, an author of several books on fitness independence, explains the concept of micro workouts in the following podcast:
3) Count calories
Counting calories sounds like a tedious task. And it is. It’s not something you should do, unless you have strict fitness or dieting goals.
But counting calories, let’s say for a week, gives you a better understanding of how nutrition and our bodies work.
Counting calories for a week helps you understand how nutrition works.
What many people don’t realize is how easy it is to create a caloric surplus. Even a small daily surplus can cause one to become overweight or even obese in the long run.
Matt D’Avella, a minimalist and filmmaker, explains the basics in this video.
Warning: Don’t count your calories if you have any problems with self-image. You might develop eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia.
4) Learn basic knife skills
Speaking of food, call it an obsession, but I always notice how someone chops vegetables in movies or TV. How do they hold the knife? How does the other hand grab the piece of onion? Do they have a professional advisor for this? (Judging by frequent poor technique, they don’t.)
There is something satisfactory to that harmonic movement of both hands. Learn how to use a chef’s knife and impress your friends at the next garden party. (Let’s hope it will be this summer, not in 2021.)
5) Learn to play kalimba
Kalimba is a modern interpretation of the traditional African instrument mbira. It’s a small, inexpensive instrument, which is easy and fun to play.
Playing kalimba is relaxing, some people compare it to meditation. Not a bad asset nowadays, right?
Good old times when our primary problem was plot holes in the Game of Thrones TV series:
6) Learn to draw
You can get lost in drawing. As any such activity, it helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Anti-stress coloring books have gained popularity because most people cannot draw. But what if your ambitions are slightly bigger?
In this 3-parts series, Lasse Pekkala teaches basics of sketching, proportions and perspective.
7) Learn to read faster
Opening a fresh book, diving into the unknown worlds, forgetting about the reality for a moment. It’s clear why so many people are returning to reading these days.
What if your unread books pile up? Merphy Napier shares tips on how to read faster.
Good news? You can use your new ability as needed – switch back to slow, a pure enjoyment, reading anytime.
When the Iron Curtain fell in Eastern Europe, we opened up to new influences from the West and East. Somehow I ended up doing a lot of Zen Buddhist meditation (zazen) in my 20’s. But I missed a more secular approach to the matter.
Since then, there was plenty of scientific research on the benefits of meditation. Stress reduction, better control of anxiety or improved sleep are some of them. All of these can help us to deal with the current situation.
Check out this short and sweet intro to meditation from a freelance animator and illustrator, Katy Ross, aka Gobblynne.
9) Sleep better
I was looking for a final tip for this list, when I realized.
Wait, I only sleep for 6 hours a day!
Since we’ve got kids, my getting up time is out of my control. I can manage when I’m going to bed, but I’m not good at it. Trying to steal some time for myself, staying up late with TV series, YouTube and news. A fear of missing out.
I’m looking forward to reading his book. And trying to get at least 7 hours of sleep in the meantime.
10) “Reattach” to your kids
No matter how much we love our children, staying at home with them now can be very challenging. We have our own work to do. Schools are trying to figure out how to teach kids online.
But it’s also an opportunity. According to developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld parents need to matter more than peers.
Peer relations is not a problem per se.
It becomes a problem when it interferes with healthy child development. Unhealthy peer orientation can cause many problems like bullying, drug abuse, etc.
Spending more time together with our kids gives us a chance to work on our relations. Check out tips from Dr. Deborah MacNamara on what to say to children about COVID-19 and how to stay sane at home.
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