Life has changed a lot for everyone over the past month. As of last Thursday, there are now over 20 million newly unemployed Americans due to the COVID-19 pandemic and corresponding actions taken by government to try to contain the spread of the virus. Those that remain employed have also seen a significant change in their daily routines as they try to find a productive way to work from home. For those essential workers still heading into work many of them have seen stress levels go up and healthy alternatives to relieve that extra stress go down. Children are at home trying to do “distance learning” with their teachers. Social, eating, and exercise routines have been blow up. Basically, everyone’s daily life has been thrown upside down.
If you research what this means for the average American it is not good. The stay-at-home lifestyle has had a significant negative impact on American behavior:
- Alcohol sales are up 55% or more since the lockdown.
- Weed sales are soaring in places across the country where buying marijuana is legal.
- Porn consumption is up.
- People are eating more and gaining weight. A new term is the COVID 15 for the number of pounds you gain during this time.
- People are exercising less. Per CNBC, according to data from 68,000 fitness trackers, Americans are moving less and sleeping more.
- Americans are streaming more television than ever before, and as a result, more people are consuming copious amounts of their favorite shows, meaning they’re watching three or more episodes from a series at a time.
- Online Gaming is doing well. Multiple gaming platforms posted their best revenue-generating month in March.
I have fallen prey to at least three of these items (I am not saying which three. J) I personally have felt my frustration levels grow with nothing to pinpoint at that moment as the reason for my frustration. I honestly think it is just the accumulation of the past month. I have learned that I am a better cook than I realized but the downside is I am gaining weight during this stay-at-home period. I feel more lethargic, probably due to a more limited exercise routine, and the ability to get meaningful things accomplished has become much more challenging since I am taking the role to make sure the kids stay productive during the day.
I think the primary beneficiary of stay-at-home in my family is our dog – he has never had so much attention from us, he gets a real upgrade in table scraps now that we eat at home almost every meal, and he gets way more daily walks than he used to. To him stay-at-home is pretty awesome.
For the rest of us, we just need to keep it together until things get back to normal. I thought I would suggest a few things I am going to try to do on a more regular basis, and things that might help you, to stay sane and happy until things open up again:
- Get up at the same time every morning and make sure to shower. This seems obvious but for a while I was pushing showers to every other day. I have always been a fairly early riser but my 5:30am wake-ups were beginning to move to 6:45am. I am happy to say I am showering again every morning and waking up by 6am. I have noticed it is helping with my mood just to have this part of my day be consistent.
- Make sure to give yourself some alone time. I know this seems crazy to say since we are quarantined but for those of us living in our home with a spouse and kids you need to get some alone time. For many of us, we found our alone time while driving to work or in between the kids going to school or soccer practice. Those times are gone right now. We need to reinstate those times by going on a walk by ourselves, drinking that coffee on the balcony with the door shut, or even just meditating in the backyard for 20 minutes.
- Make sure to get outside during the day and at night. I was feeling a bit crappy this past Saturday when I decided to go to Home Depot, buy some plants, and spend a few hours in the sun making our front yard look a bit nicer. Revitalizing would be a bit of a stretch but getting outside and spending some time in the sun turned my mood around and I felt a lot better afterwards. At night, we have enjoyed some walks where it is so quiet that we can hear the frogs and, probably due to the reduction in smog, we can see the stars a lot easier. These are silver linings that we can appreciate if we get outside and enjoy them.
- Find a way to get some real exercise. My 1 hour gym sessions, which were several times per week and pretty productive, have turned into sporadic push-ups at home, a few sit-ups in the backyard, and glacial-paced walks with the family. I need to find the motivation to break a real sweat, kick-up those endorphins, and feel better about myself.
- Push away the plate after one serving. It seems like every meal has become family style as we make the entire package of turkey meat, pasta, frozen pizza, etc., and then place it on the table to eat. My initial serving size during dinner has doubled and I have found myself going back for seconds on several occasions. I think I have a practical solution here – we are going to start putting away the leftovers before the meal has started so it makes it a little harder and more obvious to reload the plate with second and third servings.
- Read instead of watch TV before you go to bed. My wife just watched three hours of TV last night and I would have been right there with her if not for falling asleep on the couch while waiting for her to put the kids to bed. We tend to fall asleep faster and have way better nightly rest when we each have a book in hand and read together in bed. Watching TV is easier to do but I am pretty sure my long-term health would prefer a few more hours of sleep instead of a few more hours of the Ozarks.
I ran into my son’s teacher today and she looked tired and frustrated. She loves teaching kids and this pandemic is making that a challenge for her right now. I really empathized with her at that moment. She gave me the inspiration to write this post in hopes I can help myself and others keep it together for a little bit longer.