While practicing physical distancing due to the virus there are things we can do to help the experience be less stressful. If you find you have more free time consider increasing your daily mindfulness practice to two times per day. If you are alone you might even redefine this time as a mini mindfulness retreat—combining more practice with inspirational readings, mindful eating and thirty minutes of yoga practice or mindful walking in retreat-style circle in your living room. Consider putting yourself on a schedule that includes as many healthy, relaxing and varied pleasant experiences as you can think of including lots of self-care. Build in mastery by getting your taxes done or cleaning out drawers and cabinets. Be sure to maintain daily social contact by phone and email. Don’t wait for people to come to you. Reach out and not just on email. Call a friend, neighbor or colleague who might also be alone and offer words of comfort or reassurance. Talk about the weather or the inspiration you’ve received from your readings. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Share a laugh if possible. It will make both of you feel better.
If you are taking care of small children consider this time as a special one of family togetherness. Cook the slow foods you never have time to make, healthy but also comforting. Put on a dance video and get everyone moving. Have a family sing-a-long. Get out the art projects. Read aloud and tell stories. Put on plays. Call relatives and neighbors on the phone, especially the elderly or those who live alone and sing them a song. Practice math skills and learn some geography, spelling or penmanship. Schedule television watching as an “outing” and make it educational, funny or uplifting and everyone watch together. Get some fresh air and sunlight. Make a schedule of activities so that this precious time doesn’t devolve into anxiety-provoking boredom, overindulgence and cabin fever. Pray together or partake in family spiritual observations from your religious traditions or that you design yourself. Instead of seeing this time as a great misfortune try to see it as an opportunity. Your children will likely always remember what they experienced and learned because of the home life you are creating now.
If your circumstances allow you to go outside safely, do it several times a day. You might see a neighbor you can wave to or greet verbally. You might notice the first buds on the trees or a crow flying by with nest materials. The sky might offer cloud formations for you to admire. Be reminded that life goes on in thousands of beautiful ways. Remember that it is almost spring. Look for signs! If you can’t go outside maybe you can open your windows and feel the air. Put some bird seed or bread crusts on the windowsills and see if a birds drops by for a visit. Take time for kindness toward yourself, gratitude for your life and joy in the present moment.
Here is a brief list of suggestions not already mentioned.
Pleasant Activities Mastery Activities
Call up a friend and have a glass of wine together. Get your garden ready for spring.
Give yourself a foot massage and pedicure. Wash your windows.
Take a hot soaking bath. Deep clean your kitchen or bath.
Make cookies and put some on a friend’s doorstep. Write thank you notes.
Teach a child geography--states and state capitals. Mend clothes.
Read aloud to a roommate, spouse or friend. Teach a child to sew on a button.
Listen to classical music. Learn 5 new vocabulary words.
Read an engrossing mystery novel. Practice your Spanish.
Read inspiring history stories. Memorize a poem.
Listen to old CD’s. Clean out your storage closet.
Do restorative yoga postures. Organize your computer files.
Take a chair outside and sit in the sun (hat, sunscreen). Change the oil in your car.
Make a pot of tea and call your aunt, grandma, brother. Replace the flat on your bicycle.
Practice a musical instrument. Start a journal or resurrect one.
Play catch with your child. Keep a gratitude list.
Take naps. If you are going to the grocery offer. to pick up supplies for others.
Do an exercise tape.