Coping in Quarantine

Posted on May 28, 2020

Coping in Quarantine



Today’s Morning Buzz is by Jessica Hoffman, Assistant City Administrator in Wentzville, Missouri

It’s almost June fellow ELGLers! At the beginning of quarantine, I honestly was really looking forward to a summer that was not jam-packed with BBQ’s, trips every weekend or obligatory events I didn’t really want to attend in the first place. I have never built in enough time to just chill out and for years I have said I really just need to schedule a “staycation” where I stay at home and actually rest. Typically I come back from a busy vacation where I spend the whole time running around feeling the need for another “vacation.” I thought social distancing this summer would be a good opportunity to get some much needed R&R and spend time with my husband at home. Unfortunately, I have found that I might be busier than ever trying to work on home projects that we “never had time” to do before. We have been so incredibly busy being productive that we haven’t had time to sit down and play board games or go on intentional dates like we typically do.

Don’t get me wrong, we really enjoy working on DIY projects together and we make an incredible team, but with all this “free time” I thought I was going to have to spend with him hasn’t really appeared yet. I know everyone’s experience right now is different. Some are isolated alone and others with a house full of people (maybe when they would rather be alone for a few hours). We are all trying to navigate the changes right now but here are a few lessons I have learned and some suggestions for surviving quarantine. 


  • Remember that your worth is not measured by your productivity.


    • You don’t have to come out of quarantine with 6,000 projects completed or be a master chef. Set small realistic goals for yourself and don’t be so rigid that you can’t forgive yourself for a few setbacks on your timeline. 


  • Coping.


    • If you know how you positively cope with stress, kudos to you for self-awareness! Make sure you make time to do that activity whether it’s calling a friend, doing an at-home spa day or reading a book. If you don’t know, don’t be shy about utilizing your Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Most employers offer these services for free and many include counseling services. I have personally used my employer EAP several times over the past few years, including pre-marriage counseling with my husband last year. If you don’t have an EAP many online counseling services are providing free or reduced rates. You can also try journaling or reaching out to a friend you trust for venting or advice.


  • Be patient with yourself and your family/roommates.


    • Most of us are adjusting to new schedules, e-learning, ever-changing WFH policies and budget concerns at home and at work. I also think we tend to be a little snippy with the people we love the most when we are stressed. Try a new activity with your family like a board game or get creative with activities such as “turning your kitchen into a restaurant.” Ex. print menus, have someone be the host, etc. It sounds silly, but changing things up is important. If you need some “time away” be intentional and set boundaries with your housemates. Set time for your own self-care (at-home masks, pedicures or binge-watching your favorite junk TV show.)


  • Make sure you give yourself a break from the media. 


    • We are probably spending more time on social media than we normally do. Here’s a secret: almost nobody posts all the bad stuff that they are going through on social media. I have personally put daily time limits on certain social media apps. Learn how to do that here. The news is usually depressing and it’s not much better during the pandemic. I have been watching SGN (Some Good News) with John Krasinski (aka Jim Halpert from “The Office”) on YouTube to keep my spirits up.


  • Control the things you can and give the things you can’t a dedicated amount of time per day.


    • This may sound silly, but at a seminar years ago someone gave me some advice that I still use to this day. When I am feeling overwhelmed and worrying, I physically write down everything I am worried about on a piece of paper. I try to do this for no more than five minutes. Then I get a new sheet of paper and draw a line down the center. One column says “CAN” and the other says “CAN’T.” Anything I can’t control goes in that column. Examples of this include: what other people think, do or feel, what is going to happen the next few months with the pandemic, etc. I have no control over others or how they act. Things I can control: doing my laundry, not procrastinating to get things done, scheduling my day appropriately to get things done. Those go in the “Can” column and I can make a plan to address those. If I need to worry about the other things, I set a timer for 3-5 minutes and worry, I MEAN WORRY about those for that time and then I take several deep breaths and try to let those go. I gave them their time, now it’s time to let them go. If you’re not sure which column something goes in, ask someone you trust to help. I know this activity sounds silly, but I have found it helpful over the years.

I hope some of these tips, tricks and suggestions help you stay positive and healthy during these challenging times. Please reach out to me if you need someone to chat with or have a virtual coffee or happy hour and know that you are not alone! 

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