This morning at breakfast, I noticed that my 6-year-old daughter, Kitty, was looking a little sad.

Typically, Kitty is a pretty happy-go-lucky little girl. She is low maintenance. Low drama. Rarely complains. Always gets along well with others. Always happy….Basically, a really great kid.

So, to see her looking sad took me a little bit by surprise.

When I asked her what was the matter, she burst into tears. For the next 15 minutes, she sobbed in my arms and talked about how much she missed her friends and her teacher and her school, and how she was afraid she might never see them again.

Ugh. Talk about ripping my heart out.

These are hard times, aren’t they?

The first week of this quarantine, I feel like I walked around in a daze – almost in disbelief over what was happening. I didn’t know anything about pandemics or flattening curves. In true extrovert fashion, I would have never purposefully engaged in anything close to social distancing. Without question, I definitely took luxuries like getting my nails done, or going to Starbucks, or – dare I say – buying toilet paper, for granted.

Now that we are in week three, things are getting real.

Like Kitty, I miss my friends. I miss teaching. I miss going to the gym. I miss in person church services and Maple Tree appointments.

On some level, it seems like this might go on forever.

But (I keep reminding myself) this is temporary.

At some point, this quarantine WILL come to an end. Businesses will once again open. We will return to our normal lives. COVID-19 will be a distant memory. Something our children and grandchildren will talk about.

However, knowing this is a temporary situation doesn’t necessarily make it any easier to live through right now. If we are not intentional about what we focus our mind’s on, we can easily give into anxiety or despair over things we have absolutely no control over.

Because, let’s face it. We can’t control how long this quarantine will last. We can’t control whether or not we will get sick with the coronavirus….or any virus, for that matter. We can’t control if the grocery store will be stocked the next time we need food. We can’t control when (or if) our children will go back to school this year.

BUT, there are some things within our control.

You see, just as we always teach at Maple Tree, health is not merely the absence of illness. It involves your whole self – physical, mental, and spiritual. There are things we can do…choices we can make each and every day to help us not only survive this quarantine, but – dare I say – THRIVE during this quarantine!

If you have been struggling, I want to offer some tips that might help.

  1. Create a schedule – something to keep you on track each day. Wake up at the same time each morning. Shower. Get dressed. Make your bed. Have a “to do” list of things you would like to accomplish. Put boundaries around your work time. Be sure to include leisure time. Plan out your meals and your workouts. If you have children in the home, figure out when you will help them with their school work. It might even help to create a schedule for them
  2. Take steps to decrease feelings of isolation – This goes for you, if you live alone, or if you know someone who lives alone. Check on your friends. Call them. Send them a quick text to let them know you are thinking of them. Send them a letter in the mail. If you are feeling lonely, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone. Now more than ever before, I have seen people coming together to show their support. You are not alone in this!
  3. Take advantage of the help that is available to you – sure, things look a little different these days. Rather than coming into Maple Tree for your exercise sessions, maybe now you participate on a Zoom call. Maybe you are communicating with your doctor through a Telehealth service. Just because help looks a little different, doesn’t mean there is none to be found! Talk to your doctors, participate in your exercise sessions, take your medications, ask for help if you need it! Help is here!
  4. Get outside – There is something to be said about the healing, calming power of nature. Not only is Vitamin D good for your body, it is also good for your emotions. Take some time each day to get outside – whether that is on a walk, or just to sit and enjoy the beauty of the world we live in.
  5. Live on purpose….with purpose – Knowing that each and every day I have to get out of bed and show up for my family….and show up for all of you….has given me a sense of purpose. I know I need to keep it together, because I want to help others do the same. Therefore, now more than ever I have clung to my faith. I am reading my Bible each day, praying more than ever, and journaling my thoughts.

Maybe you are not a person of faith. There are still things you can do to help you live with a sense of purpose. You can do simple acts of kindness or start a gratitude journal. You can contact a local organization and ask if they have any remote volunteer work you can help them with. Pick up and deliver groceries for someone. Drop a friend a note of encouragement. There are many things you can do!

Yes, these are hard times.

But, my friend, you can do hard things!