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  • Jolene Roehlkepartain

Finding New Rhythms During Trying Times

What new daily rhythms are you adopting during these difficult times? It’s easy to get caught up in the never-ending, dreadful news that continues to build and ramp up our emotions. If we’re not careful, we can whittle a whole day away (and weeks and months) just following the news and having multiple panic attacks. Instead, consider:

Creating a daily schedule— If you’re a parent, you know that predictable, daily routines help keep kids calm and safe. That’s true for adults, too. What kind of daily schedule would bring out the better side of you? This is easier for me on work days, but I’m now creating a schedule for my writing days and for weekends. Those of us who work in a creative role are finding that our creativity circuits are all blown because of the pandemic. Playing, reading, experimenting with art and music, journaling, taking walks, and other activities help to rebuild the overloaded circuits. I still find, however, that my circuits aren’t stable. They can blow at any moment, particularly if I check the news too often.

Planning only for the day—Lucille Ellson, who is 102 and lived through the flu pandemic, the Depression, and World War II, told the Washington Post the way to get through hard times is by making a list every morning of what to do. She says, you can’t plan beyond one day because things are constantly changing. She put off a wedding into the future and eventually got married once her fiancé returned from World War II.

Doing more of what soothes you—Which healthy activities help you feel better? A warm, hot bath often refreshes me. On some days, I’ve started the day and ended the day with a bath, something I’ve never done until now.

Intentionally fudging now and then—Yes, healthy diets, exercise, good sleep, and meditation are all good choices to make. But once in a while, take a break. My brother has a “Naughty Meals Series” that he does once a week, such as eating a pepperoni pizza with my 88-year-old mother in law. Others snack on some chips or chocolate. But whatever you do, be intentional. Otherwise, you could inhale a large amount through mindless eating.

I’m still tweaking my daily rhythms, taking into account how quickly life changes. When you learn about someone you know being placed in the ICU on a ventilator, those aren’t easy days. Then there are days when you discover that your friend in hospice is still alive and joking and that a 104-year-old Winona, Minnesota, woman survived the virus.

More days with different news and different experiences will come. In the meantime, finding new rhythms can help us find a bit more balance during uncertain times.

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