4 Things I Learned While Being Stuck At Home For A Month

So, let’s be real.

We’ve all been experiencing the emotional roller coaster that’s being called a “global pandemic” in the news.

As I’m writing this, most of us have had shelter-in-place orders for well over a month - two months by now.

Which means our entire sense of “normal” has been in upheaval for awhile.

In fact, it’s gone on long enough that many of the stop-gaps we’d put in place thinking would be temporary have become a new form of “normal”.

That’s true for me. I’m guessing it’s true for you, too. 

Here’s the thing: we can feel defeated by this, or we can choose to take we can look at what’s worked and decide to make it part of our future normal… a normal that we begin to choose.  

That’s what I’m doing.

I’ve got 4 changes I’ve made to my routines that I’m gonna let stick. 

They’ve become lessons I’ve learned, and things I’ve changed about my perspective.

I plan on carrying them forward with me as my “new norm”. 

What I found during this forced time at home was a little mind blowing to me. 

The overarching theme of these 4 lessons I’m about to share is I had created a life of burnout without even realizing it. 

So staying at home, in a sense, became a rescuer for me.

My hope is that by sharing these 4 lessons I’ve learned, it will inspire you to get a little introspective. 

And maybe you’ll realize this time at home has taught you a few invaluable lessons, too. 

When things shifted… I panicked.
I think like most of you, when things began to shift and I realized we wouldn’t be leaving our homes for a while, I panicked.

Not on the outside. 

I wasn’t out stockpiling enough toilet paper for 2 years. 

But I was worried about missing opportunities to travel or just be on the move because I had believed success in my career depended on it.

I was also worried about being able to juggle my daughter’s schooling with my own schedule.

And, I was a bit stressed about the change I had to make in my routines, which had taken me years to cultivate. 

Any sense of safety or normalcy dissolved.

I think many of us felt as though the cushion of certainty had been ripped out from under us. 

I don’t share this to make light of the real struggles others have endured during this time - like essential employees who’ve had true battles to face.

What I’m saying is, reality is relative. 

All we have is our own experience. 

And when you’re confronted with changes beyond your control, it can feel devastating - at various levels. 

As the days became weeks, though, I realized I could either continue to stress and worry… or I could create structure in my days.

I could adapt. 

Be more flexible. 

Make sure my focus was on growth, and not fear. 

And that leads me to the first lesson I learned while staying at home.

Lesson 1: It quickly became clear the life I’d been living had trained my body to become accustomed to burn out.

I realized I’d created a story in my head that went like this: if I”m not hustling 24/7, I’m not being productive.

If I’m not  constantly moving, I won’t get “enough” done. Or even worse, I’ll become irrelevant.

If i’m not communicating all.the.time with everyone on my team, they will fall flat on their face and the business I’ve built will fall apart.

Here’s the thing with hustle: you don’t realize you’re trapped by ituntil it’s almost too late.

It can be rationalized as productivity. That’s how I rationalized it.

But hustle and productivity aren’t always the same.

There’s also a huge difference between tasks you actually must do for your livelihood, and everything else.

My takeaway from this lesson was I needed a tighter boundary around how I invest time into my business. 

I can say “no” to a ton of shiz that doesn’t feel aligned for me and still be successful. 

Lesson 2: Constant busyness doesn’t equate to fulfillment.

I wonder if you’ve ever felt like this: you’re afraid for things to be quiet because you don’t want to be alone with the stillness. 

Somewhere along the way, many of us - myself included - believed if I was busy all the time, I would be happier.

Well, when you’re literally stuck at home with nowhere to go, you learn that’s not true.

Happiness isn’t connected to your level of busyness. At all.

In fact now that I’ve been sitting with the stillness, I’m craving more and more of it.  

Can we physically distance forever? And just be friends on FB and IG?  #kidding

But seriously, that realization makes you closely examine what you’d been prioritizing.

In my case, I know as restrictions lift I’m going to be more picky about how I spend my time. I don’t want all my hours jeopardized by busyness. 

Lesson 3: I realized I can be happier with less.

I’ve always been a minimalist, so I don’t mean less “stuff”. 

I actually mean less obligations.

Less time spent working. 

More time spent doing the things I love to do.

The simpler life became, the better I felt.

During our stay-at-home order, I had to restructure my days so I could  juggle food prep, homeschooling my daughter and balancing the work I had in my business.

But once I figured out I could just put a bowl of oatmeal by her door in the morning, a box of Goldfish midday and a bowl of pesto tortellini from TJs in the evening, life became a lot easier.  #kiddingagain

But what I learned was those “new” parts of my routine - the cooking, the spontaneous time with my daughter, (btw, I’ve got a Roblox account now and I’m a Supermodel on Fashion Famous in case you were interested), family time - I loved them.

I needed them to play a larger part in my time. Had all this not happened, I wouldn’t have figured that out as quickly.

For those of you familiar with the Enneagram personality test, I’m a 3, which means I get a ton of my self worth from my level of productivity.

It took a stay-at-home order for me to realize that when I structure my routines to be more balanced with home and life, I’m a happier person. 

And actually MORE productive!

Lesson 4: self-care is even more vital to my routine than I realized. 

I’ve always thought self-care was important. But before our stay-at-home order, I didn’t realize just how integral it is to my mental health.

It’s so important that I ended up structuring my day around all the ways I could care for myself. 

I started prioritizing myself at the start and end of my day. 

Not because I’m selfish -- self-care isn’t selfish! -- but because I know if I don’t care for my mental health, I can’t care for anyone else either.

I had to adjust my routines to make this happen, but it was worth it. Because now that I’m prioritizing my mental health first thing in the morning, guess what’s happened?

My mental hygiene improved.

Which means: 

  • I’m more effective in running my business.

  • I’m more available to support my team.

  • I’m a better mom, wife and friend. 

It’s had a trickle-down effect that’s impacted every aspect of my life. 

Now, as I think back on these 4 lessons I’ve shared with you…that

  • my old “normal” had trained me to get used to burnout
  • busyness doesn’t mean contentment
  • simpler is better
  • And self-care is vital

My hope is you’ll hear this and realize two things:

1 - It’s okay if the only lesson you’ve learned is that you can survive. 
2 - It’s okay if you’ve learned you can thrive, no matter the circumstance.

The bottom line is, I hope you’ll reflect back on this time and tie it back to something. 

Our brains naturally search for patterns and meaning. When we can’t find meaning, we can’t make sense of something. 

And when we can’t make sense of what’s happening, it leads us to feel un-grounded.

Stay grounded.


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