We’ve all certainly been going through a lot the past couple of months. Personally, I experience a wide range of emotions that shift week-to-week, but also day-to-day, and sometimes even hour-to-hour.
One day I might feel pretty good. I’m getting through the chaos and uncertainty; I’m doing the best I can; and as a family, we can do this. But an hour later, I find myself in a much darker and far less positive brain space. I question whether I should be doing more and ask myself if I’m being too cautious and should get out more. In general, I sometimes feel very stuck.
Everyone is navigating their own unique experience, and whether your kids are back at daycare or are remote learning from the living room or you’re taking care of your kids with minimal or no support, I’m guessing I’m not the only one experiencing these ever-shifting emotions.
I’ve found myself in a stay-at-home rut quite a few times over the past several months. Sometimes I wallow in it, and sometimes I take very specific actions to help me feel unstuck. Listen, I think it’s totally OK to sit with your feelings and to feel a little stuck at times. But if you’re looking for tactics to feel more productive and a bit more positive (we could all use more positive vibes these days, right?), here are six practical steps you can take.
1. Discover a new hobby
Mom life is a busy life, and not many of us have extra time to spend on hobbies. But you still need to use some of your time to bring yourself joy. And trying a new hobby can do just that. Looking for inspiration? Consider doing a fun puzzle, learning to knit, experimenting with new cooking techniques, starting a windowsill garden, learning photography and/or Photoshop, or trying hand lettering.
There are plenty of free courses and guides if you search online, or you can sign up for a more formal service that will provide trusted guidance, like The Everygirl Courses (courses re-opening soon!), MasterClass, or Skillshare.
2. Revisit your passions
Remember that blog you started (and abandoned) five years ago? Or that baking-focused Instagram you always said you’d start? Or maybe you’ve felt inspired to help support a cause close to your heart? You’ll be amazed at how much your mood can change by spending a little time on something you’re truly passionate about.
We’re all guilty of needing to unwind in front of the TV for a few hours after a long day (or perhaps that’s just me). Mindlessly watching a marathon of Selling Sunset feels good in the short-term, no question about it. But when I use my evening free time after the baby is asleep on something that makes me feel inspired, I feel a definite shift in my mood.
3. Get fresh air
If there’s one thing that has saved my sanity during all of this uncertainty, it’s getting outside (while wearing a mask, of course). While one walk outside doesn’t always shift me out of a rut, making it a routine does help. And I also know it’s important for little ones to get outside in the fresh air.
In addition to the natural mood boost from fresh air, long walks mean I’m moving my body, which is another mood-lifter, and it’s a time for me to catch up on my favorite podcasts. Some are just for laughs (any other Bitch Sesh fans out there?), while others teach me something (I’m currently enjoying Be Well By Kelly).
4. Step away from social media
Most of us know social media can be more of a highlight reel and less of a reality check. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still easy to fall into the comparison trap thinking that everyone around us is doing so much while we’re feeling quite meh.
If you find yourself spending a bit too much time scrolling Instagram and notice your mood plummet afterward, it might be time to set some social media limits. You can set an actual time limit on your usage, delete the apps altogether (personally I can’t bring myself to do that, but I admire anyone who does!), or simply unfollow or mute the people who make you feel like you’re in a deeper rut than you were before you unlocked your phone.
5. Connect with a friend
Sometimes I send my friends a text that simply says, “blah.” Their responses are usually something like, “Yup, I feel you.” Sometimes we have actual phone calls to get deeper than my one-word text, but really both make me feel better. I know everyone is going through a lot right now, so whatever rut I’m in, it helps to know there’s another friend right there next to me. Talking out your emotions with a trusted friend can take a weight off your shoulders. I always feel better after I chat with a friend.
6. Update your space
Our routines over the last few months have shifted, and our homes should reflect that, especially since we’re spending more time at home than ever before. Take a look at how your house is set up and play around with small changes. If your kids are remote learning, are there better ways to set them up for success? And if you’re working from home, is your home office (or kitchen counter office) serving you the best way possible? Changing up seating arrangements, play areas, or even the art in your house can bring about a fresh perspective and can make you feel like your space is new. And hopefully, this can give you a spark of inspiration or brighten up your mood.
This article was originally published on September 23, 2020 and has been updated for timeliness.