How to Stay Calm and Carry On in the Covid-19 Crisis (Part 1)

(Note: This post was originally published in the spring of 2020, at the start of the pandemic. But the projects and ideas listed here can benefit your life at any time!)
When you aren’t fishing be mending the nets. –Irish Proverb

I don’t know about you, but we’ve been dashing about getting a few long-life groceries (e.g., rice and beans) since the Covid-19 pandemic. To prepare for a Covid-19 isolation, we’ve been doing an inventory of our food cupboards, making sure we have enough cat and chicken food for a few weeks and ordering our prescription medicines and vitamins, all while watching the Covid-19 updates and news from everywhere. With all the distraction, I’m finding it very difficult to focus on writing or getting anything work-related done at all, especially with my husband and girls at home now. It has been only two days of Covid-19 social distancing and tensions are flaring, the girls are starting to bicker. How will we get through this without throttling each other?

So what would any sensible, highly trained, seasoned life coach do? Call mom, of course! My mother is always a source of wisdom. She suggested we have a family meeting and set some protocols and structures in place (i.e., lunch at 1 pm, dinner at 6 pm, no daytime TV), as well as set some individual and family goals. It is good to have a positive focus to keep your mind engaged in a time of crisis (whether related to Covid-19 or otherwise). I can see how quickly we could fritter our days away with worry about Covid-19 and not use this time at home as a family to our advantage. 

I’ve asked the kids to think about what their own goals are and have come up with a list of my own that I’ll share here for inspiration (in the unlikely case you didn’t already have a long list of things to catch up on—ha!). 


Talane’s List of Possible Projects to Stay Busy during the Covid-19 pandemic:

1. Volunteer to help.

Be a good citizen and offer to pick up groceries and medicines for your elderly neighbors or those who are self-isolating. Drop a note through the door with your phone number, name and what you can do to help. Not only is it the right thing to do, but science has shown that helping others is one of the best ways to increase your own happiness too. Now is your chance to experience the joy of being of service. 

2. Declutter the house Marie Kondo style, keeping only that which gives you joy.

If you are dreading being at home, this project may be just what you need, given the average American household has some 300,000 items. Holding each and every one in your hands to see if it sparks joy, will give you plenty to do. If charity shops close, get everything ready in bags and boxes and store in the garage for pick up later. Read this blog for more decluttering tips.

3. Super spring clean your house from top to bottom.

Did you know that cleaning and disinfecting are two separate things? I didn’t, until researching natural disinfectants for disinfecting the house of any viruses. You first have to clean a surface before disinfecting it. We have two asthmatics in the house so using ammonia or bleach can aggravate their lungs, so not something you want to do when a respiratory virus is sweeping the globe!

Step 1 is to clean the surface and then you can disinfect with natural products like vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, alcohol, and essential oils such as lavender and tea tree oil. Wipe down all door handles, taps and railings throughout the house with a cleaning fluid first, followed by a disinfectant. The fabulous eco-friendly Koh spray doesn’t kill viruses but is a great cleaner, cutting through grease. You’ll want to follow it up with a spray of your natural disinfectant. Learn more about cleaning and disinfecting here.

Other jobs: clear out the cupboards and wipe them down, wash the walls, wash the curtains, clear the linen cupboard, remove books and dust them down. Try emptying the entire room and then adding back in the things that you really want (yes, including the furniture). I have a house cleaner and have hired her for as much as possible now, before she ends up quarantined. I’ve also told her we’ll keep paying her and she can make up the hours later. Get inspired by Toni Hammersley’s beautiful book, The Complete Book of Clean.

4. Design your ideal capsule wardrobe.

Take inspiration from Project 333 started by Courtney Carver. The goal is to select 33 items you will then wear for three months. You don’t necessarily discard the other clothes, but put them away out of sight for now. When you come back to look at them in three months, you might wonder why you kept them in the first place. A simple wardrobe dramatically reduces decision-making fatigue and often serves as the springboard to simplifying the rest of your life, once you realize how much easier it is to get dressed in the mornings. For inspiration check out the project333.com website or take the challenge here.

5. Get rid of those petty annoyances.

Now is a perfect time to make a list and go through the house looking for things you can mend and repair. Sew on the missing buttons, get the stain out of the carpet, fix the broken blinds, deep clean the car, refresh the kitchen paint, and the list goes on. Most people have 60-100 petty annoyances. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get rid of them! You’ll have loads more energy as a result. This is the first tip to creating your ideal life and the first tip in Coach Yourself to Success.

6. Design a fabulous menu plan.

We are going to take advantage of this family time at home to make more meals from scratch, cook with the girls, bake our own bread, do a 5:2 fast, and try new recipes. Now is the perfect time to unearth those languishing cookbooks and have some fun experimenting with more complicated recipes. Dig into the back of your cupboards for those unusual jars and spices. We found a block of tamarind paste buried in the back of the pantry and it is delicious in the slow cooker with chicken. 

7. Start a journal.  

Inspired by The Diary of Anne Frank, my girls have started keeping a diary to record their own feelings and experiences as the pandemic spreads and school closes. If you are scared by the virus, you can imagine how much scarier this is to children. I’ve lived for over half a century and not once have we had a major war or a disease affecting so much of the world. I vaguely recall the gas shortages in the 1970’s but didn’t drive at that time so it didn’t really have much of an impact. The Great Recession did have a big impact as my husband didn’t have any work for a year and we downsized, but we were never restricted in any way or short of food. I’m grateful to have had such a lovely long run of relative peace, prosperity and happiness. Here’s hoping this is a blip on the radar and long may our happiness continue!

8. Make some photo books or scrapbooks.

We always say we will do this, but never seem to find the time. I’m embarrassed to say my youngest doesn’t have a baby book yet and she is now 13 and old enough to make it herself so I think we’ll work on this one together. 

9. Advance your skills.

Is there some new software you’d like to learn how to use? Could you use this time to develop your sales, negotiation or leadership skills? There is no reason to stay bored at home when there are so many ways you could be taking advantage of online learning to get up to speed on something you’ve been meaning to do. Try Open University or udemy.com. 

10. Deepen your relationships.

If tensions are already flaring, now is the perfect opportunity to develop your communication skills and raise your emotional IQ. When your family is home all the time and together all the time, tensions can escalate and arguments too, making it essential that you have clearly communicated boundaries. What if you could use this time to bring your family closer together instead? Take the free Emotional Index Quiz to find out what your top four personal and emotional needs are – the first step in becoming more emotionally savvy!

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