As we experience another week of COVID-19 living, I wonder, how have your boundaries changed? For example, I'm an introvert who is very intentional about leaving work at work and not letting it carry over into my home life. I find that this has become more challenging now that I am working from home. Here are some boundaries that I have implemented in order to maintain some peace.
1. I keep regular office hours. To the best of my ability, my work hours haven't changed. One adjustment I've made comes from understanding that many of my students are working during the day right now, sometimes providing the only income for the family, so two days a week I start later and work later so I'm available when they are.
2. Put the laptop away. Whenever I am officially done with work, I close my laptop and put it away in a corner that I don't really pass by. This way it is basically out of sight, mostly out of mind. Yes, I still receive email notifications on my phone, I glance at them, and only respond if it is my boss or an urgent situation. And, just as I did before corona, I am a true believer of the do not disturb function on my phone.
3. I do not watch the news and rarely read news articles. This is not to say I am uninformed. My partner keeps me updated on pertinent information. He usually starts with, "Can I tell you something right now?" I am an information seeker, and I do not like to not know things. However, too much information increases my anxiety. For example, recently I read a medical brief at COVID-19 and my anxiety shot through the roof almost instantly. Lesson learned. No more medical journals for me.
4. I do something fun or peaceful before bed. I do not let my day end on COVID-19. The last thing I do at night is never related to the corona virus. Some nights I play games with my partner or virtual games with friends and family. I don't watch much tv, but sometimes I prefer to watch something funny or a favorite show just before bed. I love watching Youtube, so I have playlist that are made for me to fall asleep to. I also read a verse of the day that pertains to having peace through anxious times.
5. Give myself and others plenty of grace. You do know that this is not a normal situation, right? I do my best to not become overly frustrated when things are not going the way they are supposed to go. So what I didn't get that workout in or my hair is not the way it normally is in public. Likewise, give grace when you are someone else needs to have a moment of gripe or freak out. We have high school and college graduates who are experiencing something none of us have. People get the right to feel some type of way about having a birthday (or giving actual birth) right now. Let them (and you) have their moment.
6. Communicate. Whether you live alone or with others, it is important to communicate how you are doing. I saw a FB post where an older person who lives alone places a green, yellow, or red card in the window to let neighbors know how he is doing. I also like the posts asking for people to choose a heart color that indicates how they're feeling. I asked one of my siblings the other day, "How are you doing?" They responded. Then I asked, "How are you really doing?" I wanted them to know I wasn't asking just to be polite. This is something I must get better at too. I tend to compartmentalize and keep a strong exterior while being frantic inside. Thankfully, the people who know me, know me. I have people who will make me pause, take off the mask for a moment, and say to me, "Okay, what's really going on in your head?"
7. Laugh often. I have a necklace that says this. I bought it when things at work weren't going so well and I needed the daily reminder that it's okay to laugh through difficult times. It's okay to feel sad, scared, frustrated, worried, and all those emotions. It's also okay to find things and moments that create laughter. Laughter is not going to change the overall situation, but the boost of endorphins and serotonin (I call them the happy juices) that the brain produces when we laugh, lowers our stress and anxiety level, even if only for a moment. And the more we laugh, the more of those moments we get.
True, we don't know how long this will last or what the overall impact will be. However, let's promise to all do our best to flatten the curve, set new temporary norms, and ride this thing out together to the best of our ability.
This too shall pass,
(C) 2020 The Hope Pusher, LLC | Dr. TJ Jackson