47 Days: Changing Habits, Creating New Ones, and Social Connections

There’s a movie called ‘47 Days’ coming out. It is a movie scheduled to come out in 2020 about the 47 days it takes to get a correct diagnosis for a woman who has an illness.

There’s another show, that was a television series, called ’24’.

All of the events of the series occurred, in real time, in 24 hours. Some episodes showed what was happening in one person’s perspective, and would swap back and forth to others, but the idea was the same.

This social isolation, and change to our habits as we know them, have been ongoing now since Mid-March. In fact, when I first wrote about it, I made several comments about March Madness (The NCAA Basketball Tournament), which was scheduled to happen the very next weekend.

In the last few days, as I continue to connect with some friends and family throughout this time, I have noticed that people have started mentioning where we are at in the timeline of our changes to our daily patterns and routines.

A friend of mine, with multiple children age 12 and under, texted me back this week when I asked her a couple of questions.

She responded that for ’47 days’, they have been in their house, with both parents attempting to work productively, care for their 3 children, and cook, clean, and all other tasks. She answered my question, and was able to provide me the help that I was looking for.

Today, I read on social media a post from my relative about how things have been going for her since this Social Isolation began. She discussed that she hasn’t been able to see her new grandchild except for once, is missing her family and other grandchildren, and several other facts specific to her as well as some things that are universal to all of us.

This time where we work to not spread our germs to each other, so that we can survive and not overwhelm our hospitals so that we may continue to live healthily, wreaks havoc on our Social Connections.

Social connections are the connections we have in our lives which help us get through times of stress, times without stress, and times where we want to enjoy ourselves.

They are the connections we have to help us know we have support when we need it, to help us laugh at something that we find funny, and to get along with others. Our social connections are the people who pick up our kids from day care when we are running late, listen to our story about the guy who scolded us for our driving, and help us decide when it is time for a new haircut (or not).

The Strengthening Families Institute has identified that there are 5 Protective Factors, which help us to get along in life, and to feel better about things, and to be resilient. The five factors are: Parental Resilience, Concrete Support in Times of Need, Social Connections, Knowledge of Parenting and Child Development, and Social and Emotional Competence of Children. I am a National Trainer for them, so this way of thinking is near and dear to my heart.

So here, I want to talk about how our ‘Pause’ has affected our Social Connections.

21 days tends to establish a new habit. This means, that with this social distancing and quarrantine, that we have all had the chance to establish one new set of habits, which I’ll call ‘the temporary quarantine’ habits, and then to establish a new set of them, which I’ll call the ‘in for the long haul’ habits.

As we think about our new habits, one thing I am wondering, is how you are doing with keeping your habit of having social connections, or even establishing them, if you did not already them?

Many people are starting to think about what it will look like when our restrictions loosen and they are able to get out and about again. Eventually, I will have shorter hair, with a little bit of lighter roots, and will be getting used to my sons being out of college and into their next steps.

For others, this has been a time of extreme financial hardship. Some people have less job security, as they are in jobs that may not have the capacity to pay them while the company income stream is down. Others may have had to have completely changed the way that they do their job due to the changes in need. These changes may be welcomed and be better, or they any not be a fit for the employee and be far worse than their original role was.

All of us, whether we generally are at home and go out as we have to, or whether we run errands to get around other people and like to have our lives structured, have had to change how we get our social needs met.

For some, this time of social isolation has been one of working a ton of hours due to their work role. Carry-out delivery drivers, personal shoppers, medical professionals, and many, many others have had their lives turned upside down in the way of working their jobs differently. These changes can include working less or more hours, having fewer patients, or, for those involved with allegations of abuse, only getting more serious calls when they get them.

Some people are FaceTiming, while some others are spending many, many hours with their kids, and some are teaching others kids while they raise their own.

But for all of us, our patterns have changed and that changes how we feel on a day to day basis.

I’ve written about the effects on our lives in dealing with and avoiding this virus a couple of times. I wrote about it when it first seemed like things would change, when things really had closed, and now, 45 days in, or 48, or whatever it is today, as things begin to slowly open up.

For some, who rely on social interaction and structure, this time has been really, really isolating.

For those who love to be at home, this time has been a chance to reduce the number of interactions they have with others to a level that they are comfortable with, and a way to set boundaries about how they like to talk with friends, family members, and even which hours they like to work.

For myself, my mobility is less because I fell from a bike. I am a mover by nature, and am doing all I can to get this ankle back up and ‘running’, although running is something I hardly ever do. I am learning to navigate getting around a little differently, so that changes my patterns and everyday connections.

For now, I’d like you to think of this time of change and evolving from a few perspectives.

One is, how are you adjusting to the changes in your social connections, and how are you working to feel better than you have been during this time of change and stress?

What can you do, as you want to talk to others, or even listen to someone else breathe, or to get away from the people in your home, to get that need met?

How about those of you who really like structure and routine? When you think about how you get your own needs met, how can you do that as our routines evolve and change. A routine you may have had before the ‘Pause’, is that you woke up, got ready for your day, took the dog out, got the kids ready for school, then left for work.

You may love that routine, but then had to change it to waking up, working quietly while your kids sleep, taking the dog out when he is ready to get up, and then getting the kids up and ready to do their e-learning for school.

Any change in routine can be hard and unsettling. We use our social connections to talk about how these things can be frustrating, and to bond with those close to use about how we are working to get through times of stress.

As I finish this article, I’d like you to think about who your social connections are.

Is it your spouse? Your brother?…..Maybe a best friend from college??

If you can’t think of any, then I encourage you to start with finding a social connection.

Whoever it is, and however you are used to getting those social needs met, what can you do to make that a little better, and a little easier for you?

What changes to your routine in the last 40+ days do you like? Which ones would you like to change back, or change again?

I hope that you find something you like to look at today. I love to look at things growing, and can’t get enough of looking at a cactus I planted in early spring.

Homelessness in Madison County: 2017

terriswritings.files.wordpress.com/2019/03/flvwlmixqcucsgdspkeqqw.mov

Self Care: Adventures with Muffy

Muffy

We’re Getting There

Recently, I have found myself thinking about self care.

I am a really good anticipator, therefore a professional dreader/worrier. Our recent move was more stressful to me, for the most part, before we moved.

I am beginning to meet potential clients and to develop a caseload. There are people who come to the office, and people who meet by tele-therapy. I have a core group of office mates with skills different from my own, and I actually drove somewhere today without using my GPS

My downtime during the past year has certainly been different from previous years.

As a teen, and even before then, I was as active as I could be.

In fact, when I was in 5th grade, my teacher (Mrs. Garmin), took me aside and told me I was in too many activities. She told me I needed to pick either sports, music, or academics to focus on outside to school.

I promptly went and ‘told on’ her to my parents. I pride myself on being pseudo-good at many things, and well practiced at the things that are most difficult for me.

I could not believe that she would even think to tell me to give up one of my activities, which included after school sports, Girl Scouts, band, before school choir, basketball when it was in season, swimming in the summer, guitar classes before school, high ability classes, and spending as much time as possible with my core group of friends.

In high school, I kept up my pace. I remember during my senior year, going from tennis practice to musical rehearsal every night during the Spring semester. I dreamed one night that I had finished my reading assignment (Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities).

I woke up, realizing I had fallen asleep with the book on my lap, and had not read a page of it. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed.

Through it all, through Indiana University Marching Hundred and Pep Band, the University of Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Fishers, Noblesville, and now Mckinney, Texas; I kept my favorite stuffed animal ‘Muffy’.

As we were moving to Texas, my husband pointed out we still have ‘that creepy dog you always want to keep’. He took it out of the box, and set it somewhere else in the garage (nothing else from that box made the cut that day).

I put it into a different tote, and found it the other day as we still work to conclude the endless task of unpacking.

I thought about how happy I had been, as a child, holding that dog as I slept.

I remembered wanting to have it with me when I fell asleep at my Grandma’s house, where I spent a lot of time.

I put it through the washer, and it looks quite a bit different than it did a couple of days ago, when it had spent the last 13 years in the garage in Noblesville.

It makes me think though. It makes me think about how important it is to slow down a bit.

Without the time we have taken to unpack our boxes, I wouldn’t have re-discovered old dirty Muffy. If we had a bump out in our garage in our new house, like we had in our house in Noblesville, we probably wouldn’t have been going through each box so carefully.

It has been really interesting going through some boxes that have basically stayed packed since we began our journey together, 25 years ago.

Things that I love are: looking at water, seeing flowers bloom, swimming, and processing people and events I am a part of.

I also love watching mindless television (Hello, Big Brother), getting pedicures, and talking endlessly about nothing.

With a big life event, like moving to a new state, we have an opportunity to re-invent ourselves in some ways. I’ll never be seen as ‘the middle Dollens kid’ here in McKinney. I’m Terri Parke, from Indiana.

A Midwesterner

I encourage you to think about things you love.

Now I encourage you to take some time to fit them into your schedule. My 5th grade self did a great job of helping me learn to get and stay busy.

My 48 year old self says being busy is great, but so is enjoying the ride during the not so busy times.

I hope you take the time to do something you love today.

Or at least take a break from something you like a little less.

Happy Friday!

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