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Is the constant news about the coronavirus or COVID-19 stressing you out? Are you worried about your health and your finances? How can you handle your anxiety around the coronavirus?
In This Podcast
In this podcast episode, Kathryn Ely speaks about three tips on how to keep calm and carry on during this uncertain time of lockdown and social distancing due to the coronavirus.
It is definitely hard not to be worried about everything going on around you in the world right now. But there are things you can do to minimize how much the coronavirus affects your level of anxiety.
1. Focus on what you can control
What can you do in this situation to minimize your risks and the risks of your immediate family? Look for reputable news sources and stay up to date on what you can do to minimize your risks and those you live with. Share these tips with your children and explain about proper handwashing, not touching your face, and sneezing or coughing into your elbow.
Focus on how you can prepare. Do you have enough groceries, pantry and freezer items? Do you have the prescription medications your family needs? Don’t go overboard as when we panic, we do irrational things, like buy 80 rolls of toilet paper. I’m talking about keeping a few extra items on hand that won’t go bad if you don’t use them.
Think about what else can you control. Like your routine. It’s easy when you stay at home, to not shower, stay in pyjamas, and treat it like a snow day. We cannot do this every day and be productive. Keep a consistent sleep and wake schedule, take showers, get dressed. It is so important in times of higher anxiety and stress to do your best to stay on a schedule or routine, especially with your sleep.
Think about what you eat and when you eat it. What you eat affects your mood and your energy levels, not to mention how you feel about yourself. It is time to be even more mindful and intentional about eating. Before you put food in your mouth, ask yourself am I actually hungry? Or do I just want to feel better?
Your boundaries. Your boundaries are a huge part of settling into a new routine and being productive. If you are used to working from an office and are now working at home with family all around, you are going to have to set clear boundaries or rules about your behaviour and the behaviour of others so that you can all get the things done during the day that you need to. Setting and respecting each others’ boundaries will go such a long way in keeping the peace in your household.
Carve time into your schedule for helping children, exercise, and healthy eating.
How will you treat others? Now is a great time to assess the independence of your children and their capabilities to show good self-care. We are all going to need space from each other. See how much you can give your children and what they can handle.
How will you treat yourself? Are you being flexible and forgiving or are you beating yourself up any time you are less than perfect? How we talk to ourselves greatly affects how we feel. Be kind to yourself. Don’t forget to make time for the little things that you enjoy like a nice relaxing bath, a deep conditioning treatment for your hair, whatever it is that makes you feel your best.
When to ask for help and when to ask someone in your family if they need help. The longer we stay in that place the more difficult it can be to climb out. Reach out to friends and loved ones. Or reach out for professional help. Like many counsellors, I have moved to video or phone counselling right now. If you notice someone in your household, spending more and more time alone, not showering, not exercising, sleeping more than usual, step in and gently ask what is going on and how you can help.
2. Let go of what you can’t control
Tune into your trusted news sources once or twice a day. Do not sit in front of the television all day listening to the news about the coronavirus. Watching bad news all day is one way to go into an anxiety tailspin. Find out what you need to know, then move on to as many regular activities as possible. Coronavirus cannot and should not be your only focus.
It doesn’t feel like this right now, but this too shall pass. Remember 9/11? The financial crisis of 2008? It seems as if everything in our world is changing or shutting down. This can be super scary, but it is temporary, and we will bounce back. We did then and we will now.
3. Make Lemonade: Shift your focus
It stinks that so many different activities that we enjoy are not an option right now. If we can choose to focus on what we are missing out on, we will become more and more down and blue, if not depressed. Instead, shift your focus onto what you now have the time to do.
What can you do with your children that you rarely, if ever, have time to do? Where is that board game you used to love to play? What about a card tournament? Movie time?
Take this opportunity to do any of the things you enjoy, but don’t have time for in your normal busy schedule. What project around the house have you been meaning to get to?
How can you use this opportunity to help someone else? Check-in on elderly family members who may be isolated because of their age or health conditions. Talk about something other than coronavirus.
Think about a time-consuming activity that you can deep dive into like learning to play that instrument you have or how to knit. Learn a new language. Read a book or series of books. There is so much information online we can use to tackle projects too.
Help your children keep a positive perspective. Don’t use words like pandemic and chaos with them. Share stories about events like this in the past that we have successfully moved on from. They need to feel safe and protected. One way to do this is to focus on as many normal activities as possible.
Take part in activities that spark laughter. We can choose to create happy memories, even in times of difficulty. What do you want your children to remember about this time in their lives? What do you want them to remember about you? Everything in life depends on how you look at it. How can you shift your mindset from fear to opportunity?
Until next time
I wish you and your family the best right now during the coronavirus outbreak. I am thinking about your mental and physical wellbeing. If there is anything I can do to make this time easier for you or if you have any specific questions for me, please reach out. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @imperfectthriving or on the right-hand side of this page.
One thing you can do to thrive imperfectly today is to take the time to establish a new routine, your normal for right now.
And when you do that, pat yourself on the back, and thrive imperfectly.
- The Incredible Journey of Sherry Ott | IT 012
- Imperfect Thriving Email Course (Your Blueprint To Thrive)
Meet Kathryn Ely
I’m Kathryn Ely and at age 50, I’m enjoying my very best life. I spent years as a lawyer and then stay-at-home mom helping others go out into the world and live their best lives. While this was very important to me, I did not realize that I was losing myself in the process. I followed all of the “shoulds” like “women should always care for others” and “taking time for yourself is just selfish”.
As two of my children were getting ready to go out into the world I realized I was lost, without my next purpose, and it was scary. So I went back to school and over the course of several years, I not only found myself, but I designed the formula for women in midlife to achieve their most fulfilling lives. It is my mission to equip as many women as possible with this design and the tools to make this chapter of their lives the best chapter.
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Imperfect Thriving is part of the Practice of the Practice Podcast Network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive, imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom Podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
[KATHRYN]: Imperfect Thriving is a part of the Practice of the Practice podcast network, a network of podcasts seeking to help you thrive imperfectly. To hear other podcasts like the Bomb Mom podcast, Beta Male Revolution, or Empowered and Unapologetic, go to practiceofthepractice.com/network.
Welcome to the Imperfect Thriving podcast for all of us women in midlife to discover yourself limiting beliefs, determine exactly what you want your life to look like and the imperfect actions to get you there.
Hi, this is the Imperfect Thriving podcast and I’m your host, Kathryn Ely. I’m so glad you’re here with me today. I just wanted to put together this bonus episode about coronavirus anxiety with tips to help you keep calm and carry on. So, I hope that you will enjoy today’s podcast and it will somehow help you in this very strange and difficult time. So, by the end of today’s podcast, you will know three tips about how you can remain sane during this coronavirus crisis. But within these three main tips, I’m going to share so much more information to make this time more than just tolerable to try to make it actually enjoyable. So, I hope that you will stay with me for today’s podcast and that it will be really helpful for you right now. But before we jump in, I just want to let you know that you can also find me on social media at Imperfect Thriving on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I will try to continue to provide you useful information and tips during this time. So, is constant news about the coronavirus or Covid-19 stressing you out? Are you worried about your health and about your finances? Well, it’s definitely hard not be worried about everything that’s going on around the world right now, but there are things that you can do to minimize how much the coronavirus affects your level of anxiety. And that’s what I’m here to talk about with you today. So, the first tip of the three main tips I have today is focus on what you can control. This is a big one. What can you do in this situation to minimize your risks and the risks of your immediate family? Well, one thing you can do is look for reputable news sources and stay up to date about what you can do and share these tips with your family from explaining about proper handwashing, not touching your face, sneezing and coughing into your elbow. So, stay up to date on from reputable news sources right now.
Now, the next thing you can do is focus on how you prepare. Do you have enough groceries, pantry and freezer items? It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have some extra food around your house if you become stuck at home or we have to quarantine in place. Do you have any prescription medications that your family needs? It would be a good time to pick things, to pick those up. But listen, don’t go overboard. When we panic, we seem to do irrational things. I still can’t figure out why there’s a shortage of toilet paper right now. So, I’m not talking about panicking and buying a hundred of everything that you think you might need. I’m talking about keeping a few extra items on hand that won’t go bad if you don’t use them right away.
So, what else can you control? You can control your routine. Now, this is a wide category that encompasses so many little things that you do throughout your day that you can absolutely control. It’s easy when we stay at home, not to take a shower, to stay in our pajamas and to treat it like a snow day, and that’s okay for a couple of days. But if we’re going to be at home for an extended period of time, we can’t do this every day and be our most productive selves. So, try to keep a consistent sleep and wake schedule, take showers, get dressed. You can control the schedule that you keep. It’s so important in times of higher anxiety and stress, to do your best to keep on a schedule or routine, especially when it comes to your sleep. You can also control when you eat and what you eat. What you eat affects, your mood and your energy level, not to mention how you feel about yourself. This is not a time to curl up in a ball and ate an entire box of girl scout cookies in one sitting. I mean, yeah, you can do this once, but not every day.
It’s a time to be even more mindful and intentional about what we eat and when we eat it. So, if you find yourself rummaging through the pantry every time your anxiety peaks, it’s time to notice that. Before you put food in your mouth, ask yourself, am I actually hungry or do I just want to feel better? It’s natural to want to avoid unpleasant feelings. I totally get it but what would happen if instead of grabbing that cookie, you take a minute to allow yourself to feel whatever it is you are feeling? Sit in it and feel it. Then let it go without beating yourself up or calling yourself weak for having this natural, normal feeling that you just felt. If you can sit in that feeling for a moment, you’ve proven to yourself that you can handle it and that you don’t need to self-soothe with food. And that is huge. So that’s another thing you can control; what you eat and when you eat it.
What else can you control? You can totally and completely control the boundaries that you set. Your boundaries are a huge part of settling into a new routine and being productive and we all need to feel productive. So, what am I talking about when I say you can control your boundaries? If you’re used to working from an office and now, you’re working at home with family all around you, you’re going to have to set clear boundaries or rules about your behavior and the behavior of others so that you can all get things done during the day. Now that children are learning online for the foreseeable future, what will they need from you? If you don’t allow some time in your day to help them, you will become frustrated with them and the situation. But if you carve out an hour every day dedicated to their questions or needs with regard to school, you will approach them with much more patience. So maybe your new boundaries for your new normal look like this. Maybe you wake up early before everyone else is up to get a couple of hours of uninterrupted work in. Take your must-do items that require the most focus and get them out of the way early. Carve time into your schedule for helping children, for exercising and for healthy eating.
Then practice flexibility and forgiveness with yourself. This is a difficult time. There will be very productive days, there will be less productive days and that’s okay and quite frankly, it’s to be expected. Give yourself a break. Beating yourself up when you’re less productive will not help your situation. Learn from your less productive days and move on. Look at the needs of everyone in your household. Is your spouse working from home too? How many children do you have at home and what needs do they have? Especially if you have limited space in your house, it will take some planning for everyone to have the space and time they need to get their work done. How can you optimize the time and space that you have? Now this might mean finding a space, maybe the corner of a room for a makeshift office, finding an old card table, setting it up, putting a laptop on it. It might mean letting everyone know each other specific office hours when they need to work without them being interrupted. Setting and respecting each other’s boundaries will go such a long way in keeping the peace in your household, which let’s face it is so important right now.
Now, another thing that we can control is how we treat others. We need to be positive for each other. We’re setting this example right now. If our children and our spouses see us handling this time of crisis calmly, it will help them approach it in the same way. If we’re constantly anxious, they will feed off of that too. If we acknowledge each other’s boundaries, everyone will get along better. If we stay calm, it will be easier for others to stay calm. It’s a great time for us to assess the independence level of our children and their capabilities to show good self-care. We’re all going to need space from each other. See how much space you can give your children right now. See what they can handle. If you have older elementary school age children, give them tasks for the day, then see what they do with them. Do they get them done? Do they procrastinate and run out of time?
This assessment will let you know the areas in which they need help to become more independent. Is their day filled with a good mix of work, play and exercise? It’s a good time to figure this out, a good time to experiment. If you see them struggling, don’t wait too long to step in and when you do step in, do so in a positive way. Don’t berate them for the things that they’re not yet good at. When they have several things to do in a day, you can step in and say what you do to get your things done. I would start the sentence with, “When I have several things to do in a day, this is how I make sure to get them done,” and I give them some pointers or some tips. They might need a list or a chart to begin with until they get used to their new routines. But this is something that you can experiment with and giving them space at first and determining what kind of help they need from you. Now, if your children are high school or college age, pay attention to how they spend their time. Are they exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough rest? Are they still connecting with their friends? You might have a high school senior or college senior missing out on some pretty big life events like prom and graduation. Step into their shoes for a minute and remember what a big deal these things were to you and validate how they’re feeling. Don’t minimize it and then ask them two simple questions. “What do you need more of from me right now? Is there anything you need less of me right now?”
Sometimes we’re doing and saying more than they need, and we need to know this too. So, starting the conversation with what we think they need will most likely not help. Let’s come from a place of curiosity and willing to understand what they need from us right now. Then maybe make some suggestions of how we might help. Can you plan a virtual graduation party? Can you find a way to still celebrate these big accomplishments within your own family or within your extended family and with friends? And if you see them start to get down and stay down, it’s time to talk about things they can do to stay mentally healthy. Children in middle school and high school age are in a stage of development where breaking away from parents and moving towards friends is a necessary part of their journey to becoming an independent adult.
They need to feel connected to their peers and right now they’re going to need to find new ways to do that. They aren’t seeing their friends at school, at their sports practices or dance practices or at their other extracurricular activities. To ward off depression and anxiety, for them, they must continue to feel a connection. So, allow them their time and space to reach out with their friends via Facetime or Snapchat or however it is they are doing that right now. And what can we do to validate how they feel and lift them up. We can encourage regular exercise and sleep schedules. We can encourage FaceTime conversation with friends and family. We can encourage more activities, more fun activities with their siblings and with us. We can plan fun activities together at home and right outside our homes.
So, the next thing that you can do that you have complete control over is how you treat yourself. Are you being flexible and forgiving with yourself right now? Or are you beating yourself up for being less than perfect? How we talk to ourselves greatly affects how we feel. Please be kind to yourself right now. Don’t forget to make time for the little things that you enjoy; a nice relaxing bath, a deep conditioning treatment for your hair, whatever it is that makes you feel your best. You know, I feel really good when I have taken the time to make myself look better. I love a deep conditioning treatment for my hair, or if I feel like my teeth are getting yellow, putting a crest white strip on my teeth. Simple little things like that just make me feel better. What makes you feel better? Do that for yourself right now.
The next thing you can do that you have complete control over is when you reach out for help or when you reach out to another family member to see if they need help. It’s a difficult time for all of us and sometimes we’re just not ourselves. Maybe we say anxious despite our attempts not to. Maybe we get down or a little depressed and have trouble pulling ourselves out of it. It’s so important to recognize when we are in a place this and ask someone to help us out. The longer we stay in this place of needing help and not asking for it, the more difficult it can be to climb out. Everyone needs help with something at some point. Don’t prorate or beat yourself up. If you find you’re in a place where you need help. Reach out to friends and loved ones or reach out for professional help. Like so many other counselors right now, I’ve moved to video or phone counseling. Sitting across from someone face to face is absolutely the best but video counseling can still be so effective. Also be there noticing your family. If you notice someone in your household who is spending more and more time alone, not showering, not exercising, sleeping more than usual, it’s time to step in and gently ask what is going on and how you can help.
So, I’ve given you a long list of things that you have control over. So, let me go ahead and recap that list. You can control how you prepare, you can control your routine, especially your sleeping and eating routine. You can control the boundaries you set. You can also control how you treat others. You can control how you treat yourself and you can control when to ask for help. So, the first main tip is to control what you can control and within that tip, I’ve shared several things within that category that you can control.
Now let’s move on to tip number two. Let go of what you can’t control. This is another big one, right? Tune into your trusted news sources once or twice a day to get up to date about what’s going on in the world and how you can apply it to yourself, but do not sit in front of the television or social media all day reading and listening to news about the coronavirus and its effect around the world. Watching bad news all day is one way to go into an anxiety or depressive tailspin. Find out what you need to know then move on to as many regular activities as possible. Coronavirus cannot and should not be your only focus. It does feel like things are really tough right now and they are, but this too shall pass. Remember 9/11? If you are as old as I am, you remember 9/11 vividly and how it felt like everything in the world was out of our control in the world was coming to an end.
What about the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008? It felt like our finances were taking a tail dive, that nothing was ever going to be the same, but we bounced back better than ever after both of those difficult times. It seems right now like everything in our world is changing or shutting down and it can be super scary, but it is temporary and we will bounce back. We did then at 9/11 and after 2007/2008 and we will now. So, let go of the things that we can’t control and focus on as many regular activities as we can. So that was our second tip. Let go of what you can’t control.
My third main tip is, make lemonade. Do what you can to shift your focus from the negative to the positive. It stinks right now that March madness tournaments have been canceled. I mean my son is more devastated by that than anything right now. It’s a time of year that he looks forward to every single year and it stinks that so many different activities that we enjoy are not an option right now. Graduations, proms, internships, sporting events; they are all canceled or on hold. We can choose to focus on what we’re missing out on. If we do, what do you think happens? We will become more and more down and blue if not completely depressed if we focus all of our attention on what is wrong and what we cannot do. Instead shift your focus on what you now have the time to do. What can you do with your children that you rarely, if ever, have time to do? Where is that board game you used to love to play together? What about a card tournament or movie time? You know, right now I have four teenagers and young adults in my household and I am personally choosing this chance to focus on the fact that I have them at home close to me to sort of renew our bonds and to spend time together with a captive audience because if they didn’t have to be home they wouldn’t be.
So, the other night we played this game called Smart Ass and it had me rolling on the floor laughing at them, with them, at myself. It didn’t matter. We were just laughing out loud and it felt so good. We also played Apples to Apples, which I don’t know if that’s a favorite of your families, but it’s definitely a favorite of my family’s. We laughed for what must have been a couple of hours and I cannot tell you how good it felt and how much it lifted all of our moods. So, take this opportunity, and I do mean opportunity to do things like this with your family. And if you have one family member who’s quarantined for one reason or another, they can play via FaceTime. They can still be a part of this game. If you have grandparents that live in other cities, they can be a part of this game with you. So, think about who you can include in this and what project around the house have you been meaning to get to. Nothing makes me feel better than cleaning out a closet and giving those clothes to someone that could really use them.
So, get your whole family involved, clean out a closet and get them to take all of the things they no longer use and put them in bags. And the first chance that we get, we can take all these bags to someone else in need. Talk about feeling a sense of control. Take this opportunity to ask yourself, who can I help? Who can I be checking on during this time? Check in on elderly family members who may be feeling more isolated because of their age and their health conditions. Facetime them, include them in family game time. Talk about something other than the coronavirus and what they are doing to stay mentally and physically healthy during this time. Think about a time-consuming activity that you can take a deep dive into; learning to play that instrument that’s been sitting in the corner, learning how to knit, learning a new language, reading a long book or a series of books that you’ve been putting off. There is so much information you can find online to tackle these projects like learning an instrument or a new language. Help your children keep a positive perspective. Don’t use words like pandemic and chaos with them. Share stories about events like this in the past that we have successfully navigated and moved on from and like I said earlier, take part in activities that spark laughter. We can choose to create happy memories even during these difficult times. What do you want your children to remember about you during this time? Everything in life depends on how you look at it. How can you shift your mindset from fear to opportunity?
Thank you so much for joining me today. I wish you and your family the best right now. I’m thinking about your mental and physical wellbeing. If there’s anything I can do to make this time easier for you or if you have any specific questions for me, please reach out. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter at Imperfect Thriving. Reach out with a question or follow me. I share uplifting quotes and other information along with some silliness with my dogs. One thing you can do to thrive imperfectly today is to take the time to establish a new routine, your new normal for right now. So, until next time, go out and thrive imperfectly.
If you love this podcast, will you rate and review it on iTunes or your favorite podcast player? Also, I have a free nine-part Blue Print to Thrive email course. It’s a step by step guide to finding out what you want your life to look like, exactly what’s holding you back and how to get to that life you want. Head on over to www.imperfectthriving.com/course to get the course today.
This podcast is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information with regard to the subject matter covered. This is given with the understanding that neither the host, Practice of the Practice, or guests are providing legal, mental health, or other professional information. If you need a professional, I encourage you to reach out to one.