This has been an unprecedented past two weeks. I can’t say that any of the measures that have been put into place could have been expected or prepared for, but at this point, we all need ways to maintain our well-being while sheltering at home. Right now, as I write, my son is calling me, “Mom, Mom, I need your help!” Here I come!
While children are navigating this whole new world of e-learning and not seeing their friends at school (but big thanks to Zoom for all the virtual interactions with classmates and teachers!), we as attorneys and for those of us who are parents, are trying to balance it all while working. What is the goal of work though if we are not able to maintain well-being? The first week of e-learning took all my focus. We had tech issues with assignments, a lack of devices to all share in our household, batteries running out, and a generalized need for normal, or what used to be normal.
My biggest takeaway from this new normal is that exercise is a saving grace. In order to keep working, I need to exercise. Starting last Sunday, I began running outside again. After taking some time off, it felt good to get back to pounding the pavement. I can say I feel better emotionally, physically, and mentally.
My greatest recommendation is to go outside everyday, walk or run, and sweat. Getting a good sweat has a great ripple effect. In these days of being at home, any reason to take a shower, shampoo your hair (I mean really shampoo, not just dry shampoo), and get dressed in clothes that do not involve lounging, e.g. yoga pants, sweat shirts, etc., is a good reason to do so.
My next recommendation is to shut off the news[i]. The constant stream of bad news and scary predictions is not good for anyone’s well-being, let alone an attorney trying to concentrate and maintain focus on a task or writing assignment at hand. It is ok to allow yourself to watch one trusted 30 minute newscast per day, but that’s it. I also curate my news that I read online. I want positivity. I want accuracy. I subscribe to Maria Shriver’s Sunday Paper available at: https://mariashriver.com/sundaypaper/. This is a great way to follow what is happening in the world via her uplifting message every Sunday morning and a full list of carefully selected, informative and generally positive articles.
From this source, I found a great list of recommendations from an author, therapist, life coach, and a licensed social worker named Kristin A. Meekhof. Her article[ii] helps address the issue of maintaining your well-being while tackling the new challenges we all face while sheltering at home. One of my favorite of her eight recommendations is the following regarding self-care:
“Now is an ideal time to read that book you’ve put aside or reach out to a friend (by cell, not in person) and have an authentic chat. In addition, there are various things, like yoga, planks, or mediation which will help you feel grounded in well-being instead of sinking in chaos. Remember, it can be small things, like reading a chapter in a book, doing sit-ups and eating a healthy snack that can be part of your self-care. If you can do three self-care action each day that enhance your well- being it will give you a feeling of success.”
I have felt revived by doing the smallest self-care actions. For me, after a tailspin afternoon of e-learning struggles for us all, I found that sitting down after dinner, next to my son as he worked to complete a still life art assignment, and reading a wonderfully timely book, “When Less Becomes More,” by Emily Ley, was so restorative. After one hour of reading her sincere and nurturing words, I felt better. Simply put, my stress level went down, I felt relaxed, and my mind was clearer. It was also helpful that after a day of struggling with assignments, my son successfully emailed his art teacher his complete assignment after an hour or so of focused, quiet time. I was one foot away to answer questions my son had and give him advice on his drawing while also being there to celebrate with him when it was done.
And hopefully we will all be celebrating with loved ones some day in the near future when we have flattened the curve and the numbers of COVID-19 cases begins to go down. We will celebrate a great act of humanity to help stop a medical disaster in the U.S. We will celebrate our resilience. We will celebrate our compliance. We will celebrate our civility and the fulfillment of our civic duty during a pandemic. We will celebrate someday soon. Until then, be well.
© 2020 Megan Davia Mikhail
[i] This recommendation is supported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC): “Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.” CDC’s COVID-19: Manage Stress and Anxiety, available at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html
[ii] 8 Ways to Help You Maintain Emotional Well-Being by Kristin A. Meekhof, published March 22, 2020, available at: https://mariashriver.com/8-ways-to-help-you-maintain-emotional-well-being/