Coping with COVID19: Tips from the OncoLink Team

We are all learning how to live differently. Many of us are learning to socially distance ourselves from each other, homeschool our children and work remotely. Others continue to work on the front lines, caring for patients, restocking grocery shelves and delivering the mail. And there are also many who are facing losing their income, childcare, and housing. These are unprecedented times in which we must learn our “new normal” (by the way, this is a term cancer survivors have used for years).  The OncoLink Team is learning too.  We thought we’d share with you some of our wisdom and tips for keeping busy.

From Maggie:

  • Do your schoolwork early so you can have more fun the rest of the day.
  • Try cooking a new fun recipe.
  • Loosen up the chores (or switch out your chores with someone else’s to get perspective on what they do each day).
  • Pick a new word every day and have a contest to see who can use it the most times correctly.
  • Rearrange your furniture in your bedroom-this gives everyone a fresh perspective.
  • Try something new with personal grooming (part your hair on a different side…no one else will see) or let your siblings/kids give you a makeover.
  • Dance party at 7 pm -as loud as we want for 30 minutes.
  • Learn to play Blackjack.
  • Have “High Tea”: 2-3 pm Fancy Tea party with Lorna Dunes (Good moment for using your “Word of the Day” and we actually used the “Good China”!)
  • Limit your time watching the news.
  • I moved my “treadmill habit” to the nighttime because I want to see the sunlight during the day and my treadmill is in the basement.
  • I am giving my nails and toes a break from polish (silly but it feels good).
  • NAPS.

From Marisa:

  • To keep busy, I’ve been doing a lot of yard work and spending as much time outdoors as I can.
  • I’ve picked a couple of new books to read and have challenged myself to keep up with stretching and meditating (Calm app moved to the home screen of my phone).
  • Pick a different room to clean each day, little by little.
  • I’ve been facetiming with my family and keeping in touch with my friends, especially those with little ones.
  • Make playlists for certain things or people.

Mostly, I’ve just tried to focus on what could be positives of this situation—maybe we can all learn and re-learn something about ourselves, about our habits and what makes us think or feel certain things. This temporary pause for some of us is a time of uncertainty and pressure for others, including healthcare providers, law enforcement, our leadership, our children and the elderly, grocery store workers, and countless others. By focusing on how we can help them, I’ve found myself motivated to be better.

From Mai:

  • Stop and take a deep breath.

From Christina:

  • Limit your time on social media sites unless, of course, you are looking at photos of puppies, kittens or Baby Yoda on Instagram. There is a lot of false information out there that can send you into an anxious tailspin. Best to avoid it.
  • Treasure this quality time with your furry friends. Don’t have a pet? Shelters are still open and looking for volunteers to foster! What a great time to open your home to a sweet dog or cat AND have a companion for this time when we are isolated.
  • Games! I’ve been playing lots of cards with my folks. I’ve also been playing online games with friends like Words with Friends and Rummikub. 
  • Hobbies: revisit something you used to do…spend more time with it…or learn something new. I’m knitting a lot!
  • Walks: as long as the weather is good, I’m trying to get outside every day (sometimes multiple times) for a nice walk. I try to be mindful on my walks too by paying attention to sounds, smells, sights, and feels.
  • Cleaning: we are picking projects like cleaning out the fridge, the pantry, the freezer. It helps us to know what food we have on hand.
  • I’m so grateful for Zoom and Facetime to stay connected with friends and colleagues. Staying busy with work has been very helpful for me.

From Courtney:

  • We have been doing a lot of outdoor activities with our kids that we wouldn’t normally do. We went to the state park and took a nice long hike, we practiced skipping rocks into the lake, we had a picnic, and then we got our fishing poles (when I say fishing poles I mean sticks because my kids are way too young to be trusted with actual fishing poles) and went fishing.
  • We picked up all the sticks in the yard from the winter and had a bonfire and cooked hotdogs and made s’ mores! We have been getting a lot of use out of our bounce house. If it’s not raining the kids are outside bouncing out all of their energy. We are going to learn how to play soccer and baseball this weekend as well.
  • We have been cooking like crazy too. Some of my favorites have been banana pancakes, chocolate chip cookies, and lasagna. After dinner every night we have a dance party, but that’s nothing new we do that every night anyway!
  • For myself, I have found it helpful to Facetime friends and family so I can have some “face-to-face” interaction throughout the day. I am keeping up with self-care and started watching a new tv series on Netflix, to give myself some time to not think about what’s going on in the world. 
  • This weekend is my youngest daughter’s 1st birthday and of course, my oldest daughter is so excited about her sister’s birthday party, so this weekend the four of us will have a blowout birthday party! We are going to put on our party hats, decorate the house, bake a cake, blow up balloons, play pin the nose on Elmo, sing and dance and eat all the food and drinks we had already purchased for the party!

From Isabella:

  • Try an online class and learn something new. I recommend EdX (link: Classes are available in multiple languages and include a wide variety of subjects.

From Karen:

  • If your team uses tools like Slack or Messenger, maybe set up a separate channel or thread for news updates that your teammates can choose to read or not. News updates can be distracting and for some cause increased anxiety. Take time away from the constant news updates.

From Carolyn:

  • We start the day with a family morning meeting to talk about the day and plan activities and schedules. 

From Alex:

  • It can be incredibly stressful when I start to think about how this disease is going to change society. How my daughter is studying abroad, and she wants to finish up her classes before coming home. I am blessed to be working from home and have a job where my team is very supportive. But now I’ve had to take care of schooling and daily care of my 8-year-old granddaughter. I start each day with a prayer and ask God to help my family, my friends and me to retain hope and as much of a normal routine as possible.
  • I do my best not to worry about things that I can’t control. Instead, I focus on my work for OncoLink, and the normal chores that are part of my daily life. I am especially grateful for dinner time. When we gather to eat and answer each other questions and play a game. I’m grateful for a hallway closet filled with board games. I think we’ll try and play all of them. Last night was scrabble.
  • If I had to make a suggestion, it would be that during this time, keep your hopes high, keep your dreams and goals alive and pay attention to your loved ones. Each day is precious, each day can still be filled with love, hope, joy, and the little things that make life count.

As you can see, we are learning to adapt to many different spaces and trying to tap into our resilience. 

What are some of your strategies for #copingwithCOVID and social distancing?

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