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Entrepreneurship / Money

Staying happy, healthy, and motivated amid COVID-19

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In these difficult times, everyone is adapting to a new normal.

Granted, if you’re self-employed, you may have already been working from home, even before the coronavirus pandemic. But even if that’s the case, so much else has changed. Your business may have previously relied on events where people gather – events that have cancelled or postponed. (Talk about stressful.) Or, now you may have young children or teenagers at home – kids who need to be dressed, fed, and (yikes!) homeschooled.

It‘s enough to freak anyone out. But don’t worry – we will all get through this. At 17hats, we pride ourselves on supporting the small business community. Gathered here are some strategies for coping with our new, stuck-at-home-way-too-much circumstances.

Maintain a routine.

As difficult as it may be, try to develop a routine, for yourself and for your kids. (See more about scheduling your children’s days below.) Maintaining a routine can help you stay motivated and focused.

Where to start? Let’s start at the beginning. After getting a good night’s rest – important for its own sake these days – try to start each workday at the same time. And, yes – you have to change out of your pajamas. The “uniform” that you wear each day sends an unconscious signal to yourself, and to other business contacts you communicate with via video chats. (OK, yes, you’re allowed one video conference in sweatpants unseen by your laptop’s camera, just because you can.)

When it’s time to settle in to work, find a dedicated space within your home. Sure, you may have already created a home office, or at least identified a space where you can focus. That’s important, so you can “leave work at work” when it’s time. The wrinkle these days? You may have to explain to your new live-in office mates – your kids and your spouse! – that this is a space carved out for your productivity. Explain to your kids that there will be times when you shouldn’t be disturbed unless it’s an emergency. (Times like when you’re on TV, being interviewed by the BBC. It’s worth rewatching this hilarious kids-in-the-background video from 2017.) 

Make time for yourself, too. That should be part of your routine. While following local and national CDC, guidelines (of course), seek out opportunities for exercise and fresh air. And don’t forget your mind-body relationship: Handy apps such as Calm and Headspace can help you find moments of relaxation and mindfulness in the midst of a busy day. Turn to your favorite authors for inspiration and motivation, too. Here are seven books that Oprah recommends as uplifting, for example. Oh, and many sites (like this one) will brighten each day with a different inspiring quote.

Finally, manage your news intake. Yes, it’s important to stay aware of developments of this crisis as it evolves. But it can be easy to overdo it. Wallowing in the tragic news of the day can prove distracting at best. At worst, it can weigh on your mood and contribute to depression. Remember, we will get to the other side of this someday!

In the meantime? If you’re a parent, your workday may be complicated for a while.

Kids at home? Consider these ideas.

Like all of us, your kids are likely feeling more than a little unsettled at the moment. Aside from picking up on the anxiety that adults are feeling, children may be missing the comfort that a predictable, orderly school day provided. (True, no matter what they say.)

The fact is, kids need structure. So if your new normal means that you have tykes, tweens, or teens roaming the house, it’s time to organize weekdays (and maybe even weekends) into a regular routine. In fact, it’s worth writing it down, someplace where everyone, kids included, can refer to it. Think about a chalkboard or dry erase board.

Allocate time for specific subjects, just like a school day. Be sure to include time for physical activity – kids, especially young ones, need to burn off excess energy. Include some free time, and, of course, a dedicated nap time for the little ones.

Here are a few more ideas:

  • Yes, your kids are going to want some unstructured screen time, apart from any online schooling. That’s OK. Pro tip: Schedule your kids’ allotted screen time for when you need to talk to clients. And you can have a say in what your kids watch. Consider quality content that’s still interesting, such as Baby Einstein, PBS Kids, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and, for older tweens, something like the Vlogbrothers.

  • There’s lots of novel video content online that can be part of your home “curriculum.” Consider Cosmic Yoga (yoga for kids) and GoNoodle, which will get your kids up and exercising. Art for Kids Hub offers plenty of fun creative projects, and Music with Lindsey will have them singing along as they learn about music.
  • Think about podcasts, too. NPR’s Wow in the World answers burning questions that kids have, while Story Pirates features top actors and comedians bringing to life stories that were written by kids. And when it’s time to calm down, turn to Peace Out, which can teach your kids about mindfulness and meditation.
  • Just because you’re homeschooling doesn’t mean you can’t take (virtual) field trips. Many museums, zoos, and aquariums are posting fun videos of their most popular exhibits. Don’t miss these beluga whales at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium confused to see penguins on the other side of the glass during the coronavirus shutdown. 

One other consideration, if you’re trying(!) to work with kids in the house. Let your clients and coworkers know. Everyone understands that the world has changed. People will understand if you need to reschedule a call to accommodate your children’s schedule, or if you need to keep one eye on the bassinet during a video chat. Remember to be kind to yourself. This is a tough situation.

Rely on your friends and family for support. And turn to your 17hats community, too. If you’re a 17hats member, consider joining our Facebook User Group. We all support each other by sharing small business strategies and life hacks that can help you to keep all the balls in the air during this challenging time.