Coping in the life & time of Covid-19

It’s been two and a half weeks since my employer instructed us to start working from home. We were originally working toward a late March return to the office. But in the last week or so, we learned that our current “WFH” set-up would continue on indefinitely. After that message came through, it took some time for it to really sink-in… I sat at my make-shift work station (i.e. my dining table), taking a pause from whatever project I was working on, with my mind drifting between wanting to make another cup of coffee, and really trying to understand the depth of what it meant to work from home —indefinitely.

I guess in any other circumstance, news of a company-wide WFH situation might be the blessing of all blessings: you get to roll out of bed just before logging on, you could possibly nod off in between conference calls and tasks (not saying you should, but I’m not there to stop you), and – if you’re in my line of work – you can review or tweak a marketing brief (for example) alongside working on a load of laundry –all with no judgment from anyone but yoursef. It’s an efficient use of time, actually. In this situation, the need to plan a post-workday errand schedule would not necessarily need to exist. In fact, the meshing together of work and basic personal “time” actually makes for a more streamlined way of life. And for me, I actually find that I’m even busier while WFH. (Caveat: This whole situation might be relevant to just me, the single professional. Obvi, the scenario differs immensely for married folks, or couples juggling families with their professional lives.)

However, today you and I aren’t caught up in just any other circumstance. We’re face-to-face with a situation that’s affecting the whole world at once… We are in the life and time of coronavirus. Exotic as it may sound, it is definitely not at all as poetic as Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s novel which highlights a prior pandemic in its title (Love in the Time of Cholera). With businesses halting, borders closing, and the death toll rising globally, we are living in a time that we once only thought was feasible on screen. With schools and offices closed, living and family rooms across the world have morphed into “office” and “day care” hybrids. Parents not only have to juggle the various aspects of their professions, but in many cases, they have to juggle care for younger children, as well as prepare lesson plans for the older ones. The elderly are seemingly living more independently than they may have in a long time, with younger family members doing their best to distance themselves from them if only to ensure their safety. And on the dire end of the spectrum, there are front liners fighting the good fight with dwindling resources to allow them to do so effectively, and in sadder conditions – some patients are essentially dying alone. While we hope (and know) that we’ll come out of this eventually, the sad truth is that it will be at the expense of many lives lost. While we can’t solve all the problems that this covid-19 pandemic has unleashed, we can do our part to “flatten the curve.”

So -how are you coping?

Por moi, adapting to my “new normal” has been surprisingly easier than I expected. As the severity of the situation began manifesting itself, it was as if something in my head clicked. Panic-mode was fleeting, and I found myself quickly moving into survival mode. With fear of the unknown whispering in my ear, an even louder voice started barking instructions to act upon right away. Things like making sure I was able to stick to my nutrition plan in this compromised state, or how I’d need to maintain physical activity while possibly being holed-up in my tiny apartment, but all the while not needing to hoard toilet paper, hand sanitizer, or basic grocery items I could use day to day. (Note to all you hoarders: REALLY!??)

Then on another level, my inner introvert relishes in the autonomy -from a work perspective, at least. That said, I’ve quickly adjusted to a new daily routine. My week/workdays literally go on like this:

  • Wake-up (and check my temperature)
  • Conduct my bathroom ritual, followed by my morning weigh-in
  • Take my double-shot of ACV (don’t ask), blood pressure medication (it runs in my fam), make breakfast and coffee, then take vitamins (fish oil, men’s multi, glutamine)
  • Turn on my lap-top and go through my workday (with the morning shows running quietly in the background)
  • In-between projects, day-to-day tactical items, strategy sessions, conference calls, and the like – I work-in a light lunch as the latest press cons by the DC Mayor, and Governors of Maryland and Virginia go live
  • After ending my workday, I usually sit through an argument (in my mind) between my bottles of alcohol and my digital scale; the latter winning each time
  • I slowly transition into “workout” mode, then spend a good 1 – 1.5 hours doing full-body YouTube exercise videos plus dumbbell & resistance band training
  • Then I prep for dinner…
  • As I eat, I get a little Netflix or Hulu in
  • Shower & my nightly bathroom routine
  • Do a final temperature check (monitoring as I’ve been feeling “off” a bit lately)
  • Sleep*

*Sleep only comes after a good 30-40 minutes of responding to my various text strings talking about anything and everything from the latest ass-hat comments from our president, to the newest ridiculous meme filtering through everyone’s inboxes, to sharing the best of all hopes and intentions that each of us will see another day… hopefully virus-free.

My weekends are pretty much the same. As I’m in self-quarantine, I’m trying hard NOT to leave my place for any reason. So I busy myself with another workout on Saturdays (goal is a 6-day workout streak each week), I order at least one meal via delivery to support a local restaurant, and depending on my grocery needs – I might make an Instacart request. All the while, I try to make regular phone calls to my parents, schedule FaceTime sessions with my siblings and friends, and keep myself engaged with all things I love: entertainment, travel, fitness, style… there is still so much info available to us even when in quarantine. At the most basic level, there is still a lot we can do during these times of isolation.

I’m sure that this “routine” will eventually get old, and I’ll prepare to shift things around as needed. I’m coping. I’m doing my best to keep my body healthy (sticking to a daily intake of about 1,700-1,800 calories; my food scale is EVERYTHING!), my mind sharp, and finding sanity in communicating with others & laughing –a lot. I pay enough attention to the news to stay “in the know,” but I shut out the useless banter (aka those useless press conferences by the man-child). Above all, I try my best to be nice to people… especially those who are in positions that keep essential businesses going. A little kindness and gratitude can go a long way.

These are tough times. We’re going to get through them. BUT we’ll get through this sooner if we each do our part. Whether you choose to believe this situation or not, just look around you. It’s all very real. While most of us will get through this, the truth is that for some that may not happen. But let’s minimize loss through our patience and diligence. We’ve got to STAY. HOME. NOW.

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