Even with terms such as “pandemic” and “global crisis,” one can easily get lost in thinking that this event is only affecting them individually.  It may seem at times that the current situation we are dealing with is only happening on their street, or in their town, or their state.  The truth of the matter is that everyone, every person that you can possibly think of, has been impacted by this crisis.

For some, not much has changed.  Stay-at-home parents remain stay-at-home parents.  Healthcare workers continue to work each day providing care and services to those that need it most, just as they did before.  Retail employees such as grocery store cashiers and stockers continue to do their jobs so that the public has access to the goods they need to survive.  Postal employees continue to deliver and sort mail and packages, a service which is now more crucial to our society than ever.

For many others, seemingly everything has changed.  Businesses are closed.  Offices and factories are temporarily shut down.  Millions are doing their part to stay home, help flatten the curve, and get us through this as best we can. More people are working from home than ever before, which has resulted in a “new normal” that, despite the phrasing, is different for everyone.

I reached out to my friends and family to ask how they are coping with their individual versions of this new normal.  I am very lucky, in that I not only have my family, but friends that are close enough that I consider them family.  They are spread out around the upper-Midwest: Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio.  While my friends and family all live in different states, they are experiencing very similar situations right now.  They have set up routines and are sticking to self-imposed schedules in order to make things feel as “normal” as possible.  Some are working more than ever before because of the circumstances that surround their jobs.  Others are working less, and are taking the opportunity to make changes and improvements while at home.

I’ll let them share.

Mo, Radio Personality, Springfield, Illinois – “While many are seeing less time at work, my life during this pandemic has become practically non-stop work.  I am one of the few broadcasters who survived a recent round of layoffs – we said goodbye to half of our staff – and I am now working consistent 15-16 hour days to help keep our stations afloat.  It is stressful, but it is something that needs to be done during these uncertain times.  People who have it worse than I do turn to me, and our group of stations, as a source of normalcy.  News, entertainment, good music, bad jokes, that is what listeners expect of me no matter how physically or mentally drained I may get from non-stop work.  I plan to keep doing it until the worst passes, or until my brain explodes.  But I really hope it doesn’t come to my brain exploding!”

Jason, Student, University of Cincinnati College of Law –  “The University of Cincinnati transitioned to online classes on March 18th.  Classes are significantly different since they are all online, but it has really affected law classes because they are unlike any other kind of school. Most professors use the socratic method of teaching, which works well in an in-person setting because the threat of being called upon is a motivator to properly prepare for class.  But now, most professors have abandoned this way of teaching due to technical difficulties and attendance issues.  Because of this, it is much more difficult to prepare for class, and stay focused.  What has really helped me is the fact that I have set specific hours for myself.  I spend my days reading and going to class online, and reserve the evenings for relaxation.  Making this schedule and sticking to it has made the days much more bearable.  Going for daily/nightly walks has become quite important as well, as is keeping in touch with friends and family.  I think I have talked to more friends and family in the past month than I did all of last year, which has really helped.  Thank goodness for technology!”

Kimmy, Kindergarten Teacher, Plymouth, Indiana – “Life as a teacher is very different now.  I brought home a lot of my supplies and set up a classroom in my home craft room.  I began filming video lessons for my students because those feel like they are more impactful and beneficial.  I try to keep our routines in the videos the same, that way they have a sense of normalcy during this time.  My class meets weekly using video chats, which is what most other classes are doing as well.  I wanted to connect with our school as a whole, so I set up a nightly bedtime story where our teachers take turns reading books.  Those videos are shared to our Facebook page each night at 7pm.  I definitely had to create a schedule for myself to keep a routine, and I feel more like a vlogger than a teacher right now, thanks to all of the videos I record and edit.  It’s been fun trying something new, but it is definitely a lot more work.  I really miss my students a lot!”

Corey, Senior Accountant at Trinity Health Systems, Detroit, Michigan – “I’ve set up a routine where I wake up around 8:30 every morning, turn on my laptop, and eat breakfast while working until around Noon.  At Noon, I typically go for a long jog, then return home to eat lunch and resume working until 5pm.  Inter-office communication is much harder now, and working on multiple tasks simultaneously – something which was easily done in an office setting – feels next to impossible.  Working in the healthcare field further emphasizes the need for this type of distinction.  Maintaining this concrete schedule has proved important, as it helps me stay on top of things while working from home.”  

Mandy, Case Administrator, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Southern District of Indiana (Evansville) – “When this began, my job allowed me to work from home for 4 weeks straight.  Now I am alternating weeks; one week back in the office, and the next week working from home again.  I’ve come to appreciate the career I have chosen, as they really seem to care about my health and well-being.  Being home has allowed me to work on many projects in my yard, and I have been able to accomplish a lot that I wanted to get done with my new home.  I feel like I have been more active since this began than I have been compared to the last few months.  Planting flowers and digging in the dirt brings me a lot of peace.  It is awful what is happening, but I try to think positively as much as possible.”

Amie, Radio Personality, Barron, Wisconsin – “I can’t say my life has changed considerably much during this pandemic.  I’m not the most social of people to begin with, and my usual visits to places outside of work or to the store would occasionally only be to a friend’s house, or the movies.  Not being able to indulge in those has been tough – the psychological weight an afternoon of laughing at bad movies with your friends can lift off of your shoulders should never be underestimated – but I have found solace in knowing that my job is doing some good.  Working in radio, getting information to others is my bag.  Letting listeners know what is open, the policies that have changed, figures affecting the state and/or country, etc…knowing our stations are providing stability for folks out there really helps keep me focused and grounded.”  

One thing is clear from talking with my friends and family: it is important to set a schedule in order to help things feel “normal.”  I have done so myself, designating certain hours working from home, and trying to keep a routine as best as possible.  I have even made small distinctions that actually make a big impact on me, such as using my laptop for work only, and my desktop computer for everything else.  This seemingly small distinction helps keep me from blurring the lines between work and relaxation, and stay focused.  

I have also discovered how important it is to keep a schedule for non-work related things, such as sleep.  I very quickly got off track with my sleep routine when this began, and felt the impact from doing so almost immediately.  Sleeping in, staying up late…I quickly realized it was doing me no good, so I reset myself and am once again following a sleep routine similar to what life was like before.

My friends and family come from all different walks of life, and have vastly different careers from one another.  Yet a common theme stands out between all of them: it is important and beneficial to set a daily routine for yourself and stick to it.  I suggest you do the same in your life, especially if you are struggling right now.

I also recommend you reach out to your friends and family, if you haven’t done so already.  Ask them how they are doing, and what life is like for them as they stay at home as well.  Let them know that you miss them, and that you love them.  Let them know that you are there for them, just like you were before.  

It is all too easy to become disconnected as we power through this situation while feeling stuck at home, and it is more important than ever to stay connected to those we love in an effort to prevent that disconnect.    

You are not alone.  While it may not seem like it at times, as we are all dealing with this event differently in our own individual lives, we truly are in this together.  

And we will get through this as well.

 

Together.

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