In Japan we woke up to the news that due to the coronavirus Prime Minister Abe-san closes all schools in Japan up to April. All children are on an extended spring break.
This morning when the email from school came in confirming the temporary closure of the campus, my mind started racing:
- Yorick has IB exams soon; he can’t be off from school.
- Marit has asthma, I am not happy with the corona virus!
- Roger’s work doesn’t stop, I hope he does not bring the virus home.
- Do I need to prepare for a 2-week family quarantine?
- Should I stock up on food and meds?
- Can we still take the train or only travel by car?
- What about the Instagram course I planned to launch, and all the business meetings scheduled in my calendar. Do I go ahead with that?
This has a massive impact on our daily life.
A week ago, a friend of mine started a WhatsApp group to arrange carpooling trips to school to prevent the kids from being exposed to the virus on the train. And the past few days I started wondering if it would be better to keep Yorick and Marit home as saw the virus spread quickly globally.
And then the Japanese government took over; they made a decision and I had no choice but to accept that.
When others makes a decision that negatively impacts our life,
it can generate feelings of anger and powerlessness.
We love routine, and are generally hesitant to change. When the change makes our personal situation worse, it is even harder to accept. It hurts, and causes emotional pain.
Anger is a natural response to pain but it doesn’t make us feel less vulnerable.
And while I type this, I feel an itchy cough coming up, my throat is dry, and when I swallow it somehow feels different.
Oh no, what if …
“OKAY, let’s not go there!”, I say out loud. “I don’t have time for worry now, I need to focus on doing what I can to manage this new situation.”
Do you recognize that moment, when you are waiting at the doctor’s office for your appointment and your symptoms seem to slowly disappear? My body seems to do the reverse right now, and I realize instantly my brain tricks me into thinking it is already too late; the virus has caught up on me.
Don’t let fear and worry take over, in stead find positivity in the situation.
Yes, the decision from the Japanese government massively impacts our daily life; we didn’t ask for it but have to deal with it. If we like it or not, we have to adjust our current lifestyle to suit the situation we are in.
In stead of feeling frustrated, put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask yourself what could have been the reason for the decision they took. In Japan, the government took the necessary steps to protect our vulnerable children from the virus. I am incredibly grateful for that!
When you look at a situation from another perspective, you may discover similarities. My priority is keep the kids safe, and that is actually exactly what the government is trying too. Knowing this, makes it so much easier to accept the decision, and move forward. Now, I can start to think in solutions.
Here are some things I am doing to stay calm and reclaim the feeling of control.
Take care of myself and the family
Continue to eat healthy, sleep 8 hours per night, and protect ourselves from the virus by following the recommendations from the World Health Organization.
If your life is stressful, think about a coping skill you used in the past that reduced the tension. What kind of activities make you feel stronger?
Don’t fall in the trap of focussing on all those activities you can no longer do due to the virus. That is not helpful. Instead, think of what you can still do, indoors, by yourself or with your family? This is an opportunity to try something new.
I feel energized after a 1-hour nature walk with my dog Storm (and from now I will keep at least 1 meter distance from others as per the WHO recommendations). And I guess, we get to play some of our favorite board games again the coming weeks (on the other hand, I am very competitive now I wonder if that is a good idea for my blood pressure).
And luckily for me, I can also keep on working on the online Instagram Home Organizing course that launches soon. Yes, my work is my passion and takes my mind temporarily off whatever is happening outside of my office!
Whatever strategy works for you to lower stress, use it!
Talk about it
This weekend I plan to sit down with the family and talk about this unprecedented situation. I think it is a good idea to express our feelings; it provides relief.
If you struggle to stop worrying, journal how you feel. Articulating your concerns lowers stress, organizes your thoughts, and provides clarity. Clarity is important in times of uncertainty (that’s probably why I felt the need to write this blog).
When I get together with my family, I also like to agree on some rules and discuss expectations on how to best deal with this unfamiliar situation. It helps with feeling more secure.
Here are some rules I like to set for my family:
- When you leave and return home, wear a mask and disinfect your hands. I placed the hand-sanitizer in clear view in the entryway as a reminder.
- Online learning via the school starts Tuesday: Yorick and Marit make sure they block the time in their calendar and set their alarm clocks as usual. I will help them get used to the new routine.
- Don’t take the train. Use your bike, and if that’s not possible I will take them by car to friends for play dates or to study. I will make time available in my calendar.
- No more social gatherings or get togethers with large groups of friends (no more than 10 people).
- Daily take vitamin C, D, Magnesium and Zinc.
Simplify daily tasks
In the past when bad things happened, my brain stopped functioning effectively. I can’t think as clearly as usual, and am more forgetful and distracted. Luckily, I have lots of strategies in place to keep me going; the Master Calendar and Master To Do List I use consistently are my life-savers). This morning I first did a brain-dump to take everything out of my head.
I meal plan so I don’t have to worry every day about what we are having for dinner. And today, I ordered my groceries online which saved me a trip to the supermarket (and exposure to the virus). The first thing I put in the (online) basket were large doses of vitamin C, D, Magnesium and Zinc to boost my family’s immune system.
When tasks are left undone clutter builds up. When life is out of balance, we need strategies for remembering to remember, and to easily maintain and run our household. Lower expectations and aim for organized enough.
Use checklists for routine tasks, and sticky notes or alarms as reminders. Ask for help by delegating some work to household members.
The coronavirus is a reminder that life is precious.
Why not use this as a motivation booster to create your “bucket-list” AND make a plan with actionable steps towards accomplishing your dreams? Trust in a positive outcome and be prepared for living an even more purposeful after-corona life!
No excuses that you have no time: those cancelled social gatherings and meeting must have left some empty slots in your calendar.
I do wonder, what are you doing to keep stress and worry at bay the coming weeks?
We’re in this together, let’s keep each other safe, and stay in touch, online!