I was at first reluctant to write about this matter: you don’t need me to tell you what is happening because it’s all over the news and in our stores and in our minds the minute we step out for our daily exercise or our shopping trip for the essentials.
Many of us are not at work and are working from home, or maybe can’t even work from home. I myself work at a library and had to self isolate but the library I work at closed as I was still in the isolation period and for me working from home isnt viable. So maybe like me you’ve found yourself with no work to do, or maybe you’re trying to adjust to working from home…or maybe you’re one of the many brave people still in work on the frontline in some way. This is a hard time for everyone: and being neurodiverse in these times will also add to these already challenging times. So rather than looking at the news and the statistics and all of that I want to focus on how we can do our part to help everyone and the health service, as well as help ourselves get through it without going completely insane in the process.
- Keep a separate place in the house. Maybe you’re in lockdown with your family or your partner and find that the times when they’d run errands or go to work/ school and you’d have time to yourself…is suddenly not happening. Rather than feeling like you have to be forced to stay in the living room all day, go into a room where you can be alone for a bit (I.e your bedroom or maybe your kitchen if you have a place in there to sit). You’ll get to separate and socially recharge without making anyone leave the house unnecessarily.
- If you work from home try to pick a work spot. If you work from home, like my previous point, you may want a bit of social separation still and in this case to focus on work. If you can work from somewhere slightly separate from others it may help you focus and still feel like you have some kind of routine (I.e “I sit in this spot of the front room/kitchen/my bedroom for work and anywhere else in the house is not for work). Just remember: if anyone is in that spot when you want to use it that you arent rude in saying “you’re in my spot” because right now everyone is in everyones spot!
- Keep a routine if you want to. Who says that just because you’re at home you cant have a routine still? Self isolate in a way that helps you. You can choose to do this by setting tasks (by the end of all this I reckon our homes will all be spotless from multiple cleaning sessions!), working around your daily exercise and if you’re still working you can exercise time management by balancing a work/ home life still. Going to the shop on the same day can also help as it also establish days of the week (because I dont know about you but for me the days are already just blurring a bit…is it saturday? Monday? Tuwedthursday?)
- Take advantage of this time. This situation is horrible right now. No one can deny it (and if they do I think the lockdown has already broken them). However, instead of dwelling on that we can try to make use of this time. Maybe you’ve been wanting to look over your CV again or you’ve collected some TED talks you think might be helpful (god knows I’m always finding them on LinkedIn but never at a time where I can comfortably sit down to watch all of it!). Theres an abundance of articles online you mightve wanted to look at and never had the time or the focus needed…well now we’ve got plenty of time and the time to pace yourself through it all! Or perhaps you have a project you always wanted to start on; that photo frame you was always meaning to fill with loose pictures or that film you always wanted to watch. This could be the time to do all of it because time is the one solid guarantee we have right now.
- If you have a special interest then try to use it still. There’s no ignoring this situation, nor should we be ignoring it anyway…but that doesnt mean we shouldn’t try to escape it for a little bit. I myself am a gamer and right now I use gaming to escape from all the uncertainty and worry right now, and it helps me to face it better because I’m not drowning in all the headlines all the time. Indulge in your interest and even if you dont have a special interest just do something to escape it for a bit: watch a film, read a book, change the radio for a CD when you drive so you dont get the official adverts. Theres nothing wrong in doing this and your relatives and loved ones you live with may appreciate it too (that appreciation may change if you try to play monopoly though. Game responsibly people).
- Facetime doesn’t have to be your friend. Understandably a lot of people are trying to socialise in ways that are lockdown friendly which is awesome because that’s easily done with technology and helps us still keep to the rules. However that means a lot more people are talking about facetiming with loved ones: which is great if that’s what you like. Personally I don’t like face timing: i become very aware of my face and not accidentally giving myself a double chin by looking down too much and still being able to converse in a non-awkward manner. I also dont particularly like phone calls that much but I’ve improved with them somewhat but either way it doesnt matter because the people who get in touch know me and know my preferences. The same goes for you: don’t feel pressured to socialise in a way that makes you uncomfortable. Odds are people wont even ask because they already know but if they don’t, you can always gently nudge someone into a means of communication that makes you comfortable and where they still get to check on you. The “hey I hope you’re ok” text is always an oldie but a goodie for chatting!
- Sensory aids arent just for the outside world. If you’re in a house (next to neighbours also stuck in their houses) with quite a few people odds are they’ll go about their business but something they do may grate on you. Maybe you live with a loud chewer or maybe your neighbours are playing music loud in the day. Maybe your loved one tried to help you out with shopping but they got something you cant stand to eat. Use your noise cancelling headphones in the house, avoid the foods you’ve never been able to eat, wear nose plugs or carry around your stress ball (etc). Your aids are to help in any environment, and dont think that just because your in your home that you shouldn’t need to use them. This is the same for anyone still working. Do not feel like you have to give up your sensory aids if they help you! And if you have workplace accommodation in place in some manner they should remain in place or at least negotiated with you if adjustments need to be made to accommodate our situation in society right now.
- Focus on the day. I have been managing fairly well with all the uncertainty right now largely because I avoid focusing on it. I understand that right now no one has any answers about what will happen but they are going to let us know as soon as possible when answers do come so my brain is willing to accept this for now and I focus day to day, task by task to get through it and this is what everyone needs because for once the neurotypical people in our lives now see what we can feel like in the face of uncertainty but dwelling on it wont help us either. We’ve just got each other, and go to do the best we can.
- Remember to eat and sleep. I dont add this to be patronising; but I know personally in times of stress I would forget to eat. Whether you’re at home or on the front line it’s so easy for us to get caught up in something and forget vital routines. We still need to get sleep each night and to keep our food and drink intake up. If you have a food routine you can try to stick to that (and if you was partial to a Maccy’s try making a “home made”!) one but try to consider alternatives if you cant (I.e just regular pasta if you cant get spaghetti) or see if your family can help with any shopping you couldnt pick up yourself: so long as shopping limits are respected theres no harm in that.
- Patience. As reluctant as i am to quote high school musical: We’re all in this together. Odds are maybe you’ll get irritated with the people you live with or vice versa, or you’ll get upset at that one relative you have who keeps going out. We’re all human, and right now we’re all a little scared and upset qnd emotions are running high for everyone but falling out or shouting at one another wont help. We all have to practise a little patience right now and get through this without inducing an all out family feud.
Finally: stay safe. Above all else stay safe. We can literally save lives by just sitting in home and last time I checked there wasnt any hero in both DC and Marvel that could do that, and the work that our healthcare workers are doing right now is more than any superhero can do anyway. So keep calm and carry on staying inside and we will get through this.