Just like you, I’ve been sheltering in place for months now. I began with such purpose, dedication, and solid self-talk. “Of course I can do this,” I told myself. “We have a common goal, and the more united we are the easier it will be to succeed.”

My resolutions were simple:

  • To use this isolation time wisely and get all kinds of neglected projects done in my home.
  • To relish all the quiet hours and churn out the words.
  • To use Zoom and Face Time to connect visually with my friends and colleagues.
  • To maintain my exercise practice, getting some fresh air every day or working out inside to YouTube videos.
  • To eat properly, maintain good nutrition habits, and order take-out to support my favorite restaurants.

Reading my social media feed, I see that people around me are doing amazing things. Finishing their books. Writing multiple articles. Losing weight. Planting gardens. Making art. Turning their homes into decorator showplaces.

Connecting with both their home partners and people around the world. Deepening relationships, reconnecting with old friends. Making music. It is a beautiful thing.

Now, I am examining my behavior and accomplishments and wondering what the heck happened!

Food

Since the pandemic started, I’ve had most of my groceries delivered. I only venture out occasionally, masked and armed with sanitizer, for last minute needs.

At first, I planned healthy meals and ate at the usual times. Now food seems to be a free-for-all. I am snacking way too much and have resorted to having Amazon deliver Dove chocolate in 150-piece bags. As I am staying up late – and starting the next day later – any semblance of normal meal times is long gone.

Exercise

I had started hiking in my local Metroparks before the virus hit. But some trails were closed since, and I found it difficult to maintain social distance on those still open.

So, it’s mostly short neighborhood walks for me. I’m still exercising to YouTube videos, but it is five- to fifteen-minute episodes, and no, I do not do them every day.

Writing

It is my writing that suffers most. Before Covid, I had established a daily writing practice. I’d planned to complete a first draft of a memoir and a holiday romance novel. I’d been fired up to submit an article per month for several publications.

But, since isolating, I find writing almost impossible. I lack focus and do not drop into the flow normally accessible to me. This is discouraging and frightening. Writing is how I process and how I make meaning. Thankfully, I have been able to journal and that does help, even if my writing doesn’t move forward.  

Time

At first, I had huge swaths of uninterrupted time. All the classes, lunch dates, concerts, movies, and sporting events that previously occupied my schedule were gone. For a week or two it felt good to have so much unencumbered time. Then I gradually began to add online classes.

So many are being offered free of charge right now. How could I not take advantage of those? And ZOOM! I have used Zoom as a life coach for several years, but I now use it to connect with people I would normally see in person.

This helps us stay in touch, but I am having far more screen time than I am used to and that is not a good thing. I am again tightly scheduled.

Clutter

The lockdown was the perfect time to sort through all those boxes of mementos and photographs. Now was the moment to dump out those drawers that I never open and purge them. Clear the clutter from countertops and tables.

This one I really went after. I completely purged four rooms and three closets! My garage is now stacked with boxes to take to Goodwill when it reopened. I also have 12 boxes of books ready to take to the Bookfair store, a local organization that has an annual sale to support a designated charity.

I took before and after pictures of the rooms, and seeing the results is so satisfying. But as the weeks went on, clutter piled up again, and I did not have the heart to keep up that pace. While things do look better overall, I am worried that I am backsliding.

Now What?

This reflection left me feeling a bit sad and frustrated. It reminded me of my first semester in college, when I had trouble shifting from the high school setting where my day was tightly scheduled and someone checked my homework, to class three times a week and monitoring my own work process.

For most of that semester, I was unorganized and adrift. Everyone around me seemed to know what they were doing and I… didn’t. I was unhappy and afraid of failure.

It was only when I made a few new friends and they shared that they too were struggling to adjust, that I relaxed. My grades were not perfect that semester, but I gained new friends and new time management skills. I learned I did not need perfect grades in those 101 classes to have succeeded.

Mindset Shifts

It is time for me, and perhaps you, to grant myself the same grace about Covid 101. I am looking back at my first semester of Covid with compassion.

I know the journey will be easier shared, so I will again lean into friendships and this community for support and encouragement. Since this might be the first semester of a two-year Covid pandemic, I composed some reminders to help me (and perhaps you) focus on kindness and choice.

  • Only I can determine the quality of my efforts.
  • Only I know how this isolation is affecting my mental health.
  • Only I can determine what constitutes success.
  • Only I am responsible for what I choose to attempt.
  • Only I decide when I need to just relax and achieve nothing that day.
  • Only I can allow myself to reach out to others, helping them during this chaos.
  • Only I can allow myself to choose rest.
  • Only I can surround myself with people who uplift me.
  • Only I can grant myself and others grace.
  • Only I can accept the kindness and assistance of others.
  • Only I am in charge of my thoughts, so choose good ones.
  • Only I can foster hope.

And then there is the overriding thought I want to hold: Things are not happening to me; they are happening for me. I figured out how to do those 101 college classes and graduated with honors. I will do the same thing, with gratitude, as I begin Covid 102 and move forward.

How about you? How are you maintaining a productive mindset during the time of Corona? What’s keeping you down? What’s lifting you up? What advice do you have for others who may be feeling down and need support to maintain positivity? Please share with our community.

Let's Have a Conversation!