During the coronavirus pandemic many of us have found ourselves with increased time and responsibilities at home. We find ourselves working from home for the first time, or having children home attempting to engage in school digitally or through a hybrid model. Even for those who might have been doing many of these tasks before, it has been a significant adjustment with restrictions on extra-curricular activities and social gatherings. In the midst of this stress and adjustment, consider these ideas:
- Balance is unrealistic. We often ask, how can I balance all of this? I propose that balance is not necessarily a realistic expectation for us to have of ourselves when managing several simultaneous roles. Balance suggests that we have equal parts on multiple sides and are at the center keeping everything appropriately assigned. How then do we handle dramatic, abrupt changes? Simple answer, we can’t, we have to adopt a different mindset.
- Think of juggling instead: Imagine juggling a combination of glass balls and rubber balls. Glass balls represent deadlines, appointments or critical needs that must be attended to and kept suspended in the air, otherwise, if one is dropped it will shatter. The rubber balls represent tasks that it is okay to occasionally miss or adjust and they will bounce. Take a moment and consider, are you a person who has a tendency to see most tasks as “glass balls”? Are there some expectations that you have of yourself that you could let go of and it would be okay? Try acknowledging to yourself when you let some things go that “it’s okay, it will be there when I can come back to it”.
- Mindfulness: Many of us know that mindfulness is good for us and has been linked to several health benefits. When you think of mindfulness, yoga or meditation come to mind. That can sound like just one more thing to add to your day. What I mean by mindfulness is choosing to be aware and present, during intentional times throughout the day. Taking 5 minutes to sip your morning coffee and notice how it smells and tastes. Cuddling on the couch for a few minutes with your pet or child without engaging in distractions. Taking a few minutes to focus on your breathing. The simple act of increasing mindfulness can improve our ability to manage stress and see things more clearly.
- Rituals: When a person works in an office, they will often have a commute after work and a familiar routine that goes along with it that helps their brain to transition from work to home. When children attend school (in-person) they and their parents have routines related to school pick-up whether off of the bus, from childcare or in the car which helps both transition from school to home. Being at home for such large portions of the day, makes it important to establish new rituals during transitions. Try cleaning up your work/school space at the end of each day. Attempt to time a snack at the end of your workday. Try changing into and out of work clothes. Apply a scented lotion or try lighting a candle. If you can incorporate your 5 senses into the experience, even better!
I hope that the above tips help you to find comfort, along with some tangible ideas to improve your experience with managing multiple roles right now. Remember, you are not alone! If you notice the need for additional support or significant difficulty during this time, consider reaching out for the support of a therapist.
-Jessica Smith, MA, LMFT
Owner, Encompass Hope, Llc