Pace Yourself [Mental Health Monday]

Something that has always been hard for me is pacing myself when it comes to work, family, friends, and life in general. I’ve always had a hard time relaxing and this particular situation with COVID-19 has ironically helped me to slow down a bit.

Mental Health Monday: Pace Yourself | Self-Care | Mental Health Matters | Mental Health | RachelPoli.com

My old routine

It took me a long time to get into a routine with running a blog. Between creating content, adding images, social media marketing, engaging on social media and the comments, and everything in between, finding that right routine for it all was hard. There are only so many hours in each day.

I used to work on one project each day. For example, Sundays are for my Double Jump blog while Mondays were for this blog. The other days of the week had a specific project assigned to them as well. This worked for a little bit but it slowly tapered off. Once I checked something off my to-do list, it seemed I had added another three tasks to it.

Before I knew it, I was stressed and overwhelmed trying to get so many things done in one day. On top of that, I had to nanny in the afternoon, I’d get emails from my church of things to do there as well, plus other last-minute tasks that would worm their way onto my daily list.

How this lockdown has helped

I’ve fortunate I’m not sick and I don’t know anyone who is sick. I know people whose immune system is compromised (such as myself) and I have grandparents whose immune systems are shot. I know what it feels like to be scared that something may happen and we’re all doing the best we can to stay home and distance ourselves from friends and family. It’s hard, but it’s for the best.

I thank my lucky stars each day that I’m healthy and everyone I know is healthy. I pray for the people who have been affected by this virus physically and mentally and for those who know others who have been affected by this virus. It’s a terrible thing and we all need to do our best to stick together, do the right thing, and be kind to one another.

In a weird way, I feel as though this stay-at-home order is forcing me to slow down. The circumstances are weird and not good, but it’s allowed me to take some time to really look at my daily routines and figure out that I need some changes.

My workdays before quarantine 

I normally wake up early and jump into work right away (after grabbing a cup of coffee, of course). This work is blogging, writing, freelancing, business, book reviews, church stuff, anything and everything. Because I nanny in the afternoon, I cram it all in within five to six hours before leaving to get the kids from school. Then by the time I get home, it’s dinner, shower, and just about bedtime because I’m exhausted from the day.

Now that everything has been canceled and closed, I don’t need to nanny in the afternoons. Both parents are home so the kids and I FaceTime once in a while to keep in touch but that’s about it until this is over. I miss them and I miss the routine of going out every afternoon, but I now have four to five hours added back to my weekdays. For the time being, I no longer need to compress all my work into a few hours. I can stretch it the whole day.

The first week was rough

I didn’t know how the handle everything the first week. I buried myself in video games and ignored the outside world all the while constantly refreshing the news and getting mad at myself for it getting more and more stressed and scared. I got no work done so, on the second week, I knew I needed to do something. I needed to ease myself back into my routine, even though it was going to be a different routine.

I no longer needed to nanny in the afternoon. I no longer had to worry about church. (I’m still working for church, but I don’t need to worry about my Sunday school lessons at least). I work from home anyway, but now my mother was home. My sister was home every other day. My dad, unfortunately, still needs to go into work every day. My family is fine and they don’t bother me while I work, but it’s still odd to have them home anyway, especially when I’m on video calls or live streaming.

I needed to ease back into it

In between the news and getting used to being stuck inside the house all day with my family who are supposed to be at work, I realized I needed to ease myself back into working and also to find a new routine, even if it’s a temporary one. Well, this “temporary” routine seems to be working great for me.

Not only am I feeling productive throughout the day but I’m also finishing with enough time left over at the end of the night to play games with my family, watch a movie, have some “me” time, or chill with a video game or a book. The way I’ve changed my routine is the simplest thing too.

Pacing myself

I work on a lot of different things. I run two blogs, started a podcast, I live stream, I work at my church, I have my creative writing, do freelance work, and so much more. This is why I originally decided to dedicate one day to each thing, but that’s obviously didn’t work. The to-do list for each project is miles long and it’s so hard to get it all done within one day or even just a week or month.

I started looking at all the tasks I needed to do for each project and prioritized them. I started doing one task from each list every day. For example, I write one blog post for here a day. I write one blog post for Double Jump. Soon, I create a backlog of posts so if I ever need to skip a blog post for a day, that’s okay.

There are some projects that I don’t work on every day. There are some projects I do multiple tasks for each day depending on when they’re due and/or how time-consuming the are.

I don’t know why I haven’t done this before. Doing one task for each category has, somehow, allowed me to get so much more done during the day. I’m even back into my routine of working on my novels daily. (That’s also a huge thanks to Camp NaNoWriMo but it’ll keep going through May and beyond… I assume it will, anyway.)

Pacing yourself is so important

I rambled a bit in this post and I didn’t mean to. I mostly meant to discuss the importance of pacing yourself and what I’m doing. I threw so much backstory in there, but… this isn’t a novel. I’m not editing it out. If you read it, good for you. Thanks. If you skimmed and skipped to this part, good for you too.

We all need to work so we can make money and survive in this weird world. However, in order to work smart we need to take care of ourselves. That includes getting a good night’s sleep, eating healthy, getting a decent amount of exercise… but it also means taking care of your brain. You can’t expect yourself to work on everything at once and do it all in one day.

I don’t know why I always thought I could. I’ve been finishing my day around dinner time if not before. It’s been a normal work day for people with day jobs. I start between six and seven in the morning and I’m done around three or four in the afternoon. It’s a great feeling. I’m less stressed about my work because I feel like I’m making progress on everything throughout the day. Not to mention I’m able to spend more time with my family and have some downtime to relax, something I rarely do.

My sleep schedule is still off (it always is) but I feel somewhat refreshed each day. There have been days where I’ve worked so much that the next morning, my brain doesn’t want to do anything. It doesn’t matter if I slept well or not, I overworked it the day before and it still wasn’t ready to get back into it. Now I’m able to wake up and keep that timely routine of getting my work done in a good time.

Take this time to take care of yourself

Some of us are stuck at home. Some of us are still working. Some are taking care of others, some are worried about their family and friends. The best thing we can do right now is to adjust to this new (but temporary) “normal.” A great way to do that is to find a good routine to keep things as normal as possible but pace yourself in doing so. Take the time to hang out with your family and enjoy the nicer weather.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go practice what I preach.

Take care of yourselves.

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