Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Getting Through This Together...Apart (or Why Retirees Know How to Handle This Season of Our Lives)

The pandemic we know as the coronavirus, COVID-19, is a worldwide health concern. The effects are far reaching. My prayers are with those who have contracted the virus as well as their families. 

It is a difficult time. For all of us.

Most of us are practicing “social distancing.” For those who live alone it is a time of forced isolation. Isolation, quarantine, or social distancing comes with potential pitfalls and maybe, just maybe, a few benefits.

Stay with me here. This is not my typical post.

Let’s start with a little deliberate self-care. A friend of mine complained to me on the phone that she was fatigued. She couldn’t understand why. “I know I’m getting enough sleep,” she said. “In fact, I’ve been sleeping in now that I don’t have to be anywhere.” It turns out she’s been staying in her pajamas the whole day and napping in the afternoon. (Okay, I’ll admit as a teenager I used to dream of days like that.)

This brings us to the point of deliberate self-care. During this time of isolation follow these steps for good physical and mental health:
·      Establish a routine. Get up and go to bed at regular hours and keep to your schedule.
·      Establish something that occurs weekly to help you remember what day it is…seriously. For example, I “go to church” (online) on Sundays. 
·      Eat right and exercise. Get outside and walk or break out those weights you bought on a whim and put them to work.

And these next two are extremely important:
·      Before you go to bed each evening, list two to three tasks you’d like to complete the following day.
·      When you get up in the morning, get dressed…and don’t forget to put on your shoes. Curiously enough, putting on your shoes is a “step” in the right direction. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.) There really is a psychological benefit to putting your shoes on each morning.

Once I’m up and dressed, I have my breakfast while I read my Bible. I review the list I made the night before and I enter the day with a sense of purpose.

Most of the physical and mental I’ve put into practice for years. It was part of learning to manage retirement.

There is more. Taking care of ourselves physically and mentally is good, but we also need to take care of our emotional and social well being. I’m offering these ideas. Feel free to try one or more as you like:
Easter Egg Hunt 2020

Miss seeing your family and friends?
·      Phone calls are great, but changing to a video chat is more satisfying. You can use an app on your phone or a free computer application such as Zoom to connect with others. My mother, daughters, and I played a shared game on our computers the other night while we used Face Time to chat and talk a little smack while we played. ( My Bible study group meets on Zoom every Tuesday.
·      If that’s too techie for you then try sitting down and writing a letter or card to someone. Trust me, the recipient will be thrilled. I received a letter from my grandson. That was one trip to the mailbox I will cherish. And I have the letter to relive the moment.
·      Need some “real live” face-to-face time? Get creative. This past week I attended a “block party” in my neighborhood. It was “Bring your own beverage, bring your own chair, stay in your own space.” Everyone attending had a designated area on the driveway with sidewalk chalk to write our names on our space. 

And this week, my daughter and son-in-law brought their girls over to my house for an Easter egg hunt. Kendall hid eggs in my back yard then my granddaughters hunted them. I watched from my balcony and cheered them on.  What fun!

·      Of course social media helps, but too much internet like too much television will leave you drained.

The Start of my Barn Painting
Finally, you may consider engaging in a hobby or interest: get those photos in albums or write your memoir. Draw a picture or practice the piano sitting in the corner. It's that big piece of furniture you haven't touched in years. 

Time can be a gift. One we often toss about loosely or waste altogether.

All eight of my grandchildren seem to be thriving. They are enjoying the extended family time. Perhaps one day when they are moms and dads themselves, they’ll look back and say, “Remember that time when school was closed and we had so much fun with our parents. I want that for my family.”

What are you doing during this time of social distancing?

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