For most, if not all of us, summer will look incredibly different. For those of us with kids – they will not be enjoying summer camps or water parks, but finding ways to stay occupied while we struggle to work at home. Many of the vacations, travel or fun outings we might have had planned have been postponed, leaving many of us with a sense of dread around what how to make it through this summer successfully.
Given these crazy times, I’ve realized that some of the best tools and strategies I’ve pulled from have stayed the same, while others have varied a bit. Below are 3 things that I KNOW will help you feel just a tad more successful on this restricted playing field we have all been handed:
To all you fellow type-A planners like me, take a deep breath and keep reading. To all you non-planning, laid back ‘go with the flow’ types, feel free to skip to the next tip. Being un-planned is very hard for me, but there is almost nothing more valuable that I can practice right now than letting go of the planning and being open to continual changes. Every. Single. Day.
By now, many of us have become more practiced at having everything canceled on us when we least expected it. A good friend put it best, “I’m developing a new super power of NOT getting upset when things get canceled!” And I agree- most of us have become more adept at accepting the events that continue to be removed from my life.
The one thing that is still incredibly difficult for me to let go of is re-planning. The minute something gets canceled or changed, my natural reaction is to move through a series of logistical ninja moves in order to “figure out the next plan!!”
These days, there often is no next plan. There is also rarely a guarantee that your next options is even going to be available. So, being able to constantly flex and adapt without getting too attached to the outcome is huge. The less you can get attached to the outcome or options, the happier you are going to be with our current situation.
Stick with a Daily Healthy Habit
For me, this looks like some kind of movement related activity alone in the mornings – each and every day. It might be a dog walk, a few yoga moves, or an early morning bike ride before we all start the day… but it is crucial to my own ability to handle these pandemic times.
As my daughter and I were saying goodnight to each other last night, she sweetly asked me, “Mom, could you please not go on a morning bike ride or walk so that you can snuggle with me in the morning?” I took a deep breath and said, “No, sweetie. I cannot. Those morning walks keep me healthy and help me be a better mom to you the rest of the day.” It’s true. They are my saving grace.
You most likely have your own saving grace: Reading quietly alone in a special chair at night, Journaling in the morning about thoughts and ideas, Singing in your car on a drive by yourself. Don’t lose it. Don’t let that healthy habit get pushed to the side. If you aren’t able to do your favorite healthy habit (ie. go to a daily workout class), what could you create instead? What else could you do that would create a little bit of “YOU” time between the chaos?
And remember – I am stressing healthy habits here, not binging on 5 hours of reality TV or drinking a extra bottle of wine. It’s true that those might be enjoyed in the moment, but there is probably something better out there that can allow you some enjoyment without the guilt of our not-so-healthy pleasures.
This one is so important. We need to stay connected with others for our own mental happiness (it’s a HUGE predictor, people!), but our options are limited. This means that you need to do what works for you to stay connected during this phase.
I have realized that my kids and I only have so much capacity for the online FaceTime and Zoom meetings – so limiting them to the ones that are most important has been key. I’ve discovered that walking with friends is great, but going only at times when very few people are out and about works best. Connecting with a select few people on Marco Polo has also been helpful – even creating a small group so that everyone can be involved while staying safe and listening on their own schedules.
Even just calling people on the phone like we used to, or checking in via text to see how friends are doing. The smallest little check-in might have a huge impact on someone when he or she is having a good day. Not only that, knowing you made a positive difference for someone else will boost your own happiness levels.
I know these are only small actions, but using them together will help you feel as if your tomorrow is just 10% brighter than yesterday.
You got this.