Help on Hard Days


Whew! Are you feeling like these days are hard?

The kids have all been out of school for over two months, and we still have a whole summer to get through! Many of you have been working (or trying to work) from home. Some of you may not be unemployed because of the pandemic. Or you are working harder than ever – an essential worker when the rest of the economy is closed.

I don’t know about you, but I did not think that this is where we would be right now when we rang in 2020 on New Year’s Eve!

With all of this change, you may be feeling like you don’t know how much more “together” time at home you can handle right now or how you can go without a job for much longer or how you can keep working as hard as you have been without falling over, and you know what, that is OKAY!

It is okay not to be okay. It is okay to want things to go back to the way they were before. It is okay to have more screen time and less schoolwork time or to feel overwhelmed and grieve your life the way it used to be. It is okay to be uncertain and anxious about the future in this time of uncertainty. Someday, we will be able to go back to work and school and just regular life, or something like it. Truthfully, we aren’t likely to do things exactly how we did them before once this pandemic has run its course. However, that knowledge doesn’t help now on the hard days when we just don’t think we can live like this anymore. So, here are a few things that might help you get through the tough days.

  1. Take time to breathe and breathe deeply. As you breathe, relax your shoulders, your face, and your arms. Let yourself sink into the floor a little bit. Clear your mind as you breathe out the stress. Repeat these steps throughout your day. I like to do 4 Square Breathing. Here’s an example
  2. Step away from your desk or workspace and… Take. A. Break. Maybe you can go on a short walk outside or play a game on your phone. Whatever that break looks like, make sure it happens a couple of times a day.
  3. Set work hour boundaries. When you are working from home, it is REALLY hard not to bring work home with you. Set some work hour parameters and stick to them. Don’t answer the phone, look at email or type out that memo outside of your designated work time. Trust me, creating that boundary will do wonders for your mental health.
  4. Practice grounding techniques. They work well when you are feeling panicky, unfocused, nervous, or simply overwhelmed. Take the time to notice and describe five(5) things you see, four(4) things you feel, three(3) things you hear, two(2) things you smell, and one (1) thing you taste. If you have chocolate or a cookie, or, better yet, a chocolate chip cookie, now is the time to whip that out and savor the flavor.
  5. Last, write out a list. Lists help when your brain is bouncing from one thing to another, and you can’t seem to get anything done. This process also helps when you need to feel a little better about your accomplishments. I like to add a few things in there like “check the mail” or “eat a snack.” It’s crucial to get what’s going on in your brain, out on paper. You will hopefully find that the tasks before you seem possible.