It’s been over a month since my family cut off most of our interaction with the outside world, thanks to the Pandemic. And many people complain that they are struggling to stay sane. So I put together some of the ways my family has adapted to keep our sanity, and adjust to the new normal.

 

As the days and weeks have gone by, we found some coping skills I want to share with you. Today I met a woman walking her dog who told me how hard this quarantine still is for her. I hope she was just making conversation, because this has been going on a while. It made me realize that maybe my coping mechanisms were not common sense.

 

My husband usually travels about 50% of the year. So, we were thrilled when all travel was cancelled, and he started working from home 100% of the time. But having no friends over, and not going on our daily adventures to the zoo, aquarium, etc., was hard. We had to adjust fast, because we were having daily melt downs as people expressed their frustration over the situation.

 

ME time- staying sane

 

I learned quickly that if Mom isn’t sane, nobody else can be either. So the first, and most important tip, is that I allow myself some ‘me time’ every day. No matter what is going on, the last hour before bedtime I send everyone to their own corners and we each do our own thing. Even when I just watch a silly TV show that is just for me, I feel refreshed having been alone and doing my own thing for a time.

 

Crafting

 

Second, I have been crafting like crazy. For me crafting is almost better than therapy. In fact, in High School I spent every Thursday afternoon with a friend. She and I did crafts and talked. It is still my favorite way to find myself again when life is stressful. I cannot tell you how much it has helped me to make things every day. It keeps me sane.

 

My mom has taken it to the next level. She is crafting daily, but her craft project is to sew masks for the doctors and nurses in the local hospitals. She is part of a wonderful group of women who are dedicated to sewing a million masks this month. Her service and example is uplifting and brings me hope. She is not sitting back and complaining that the change is hard. She is getting to work and serving others in a wonderful way.

 

Gardening

 

The next thing that has really helped me stay sane, and blessed my life, is gardening. My yard has never been so tidy! Getting out into nature always rejuvenates me. I love weeding, and planning planting beds. I love seeing the finished product as my yard comes to life in the springtime. It is also a safe way to socialize as people pass by on the sidewalk. We can chat and stay socially distant.

 

As the grocery stores have had food shortages, I have planted a garden and I’m watching the little seedlings get a bit bigger every day. Knowing I am preparing for our family’s future is reassuring. With so much uncertainty in the world, I am so grateful that when you plant a seed it still grows. When fall comes we will have food to share with family, friends and neighbors. And that is a certainty my soul needs right now. It helps me stay sane.

 

Social media keeps me sane

 

I am SO grateful for modern technology. With social media I can keep in touch with friends and family. I can check on them, and they can check on me. Mostly we send around hilarious Covid memes, but still. It is a wonderful way to release tension as we laugh together. Connection is a basic need of the human soul, and social media keeps me connected even when we have to stay away from each other.

 

We have also had firesides and RS meetings by ZOOM. The connection to our leaders and the messages of the Spirit nourish my soul. I feel more sane as I listen to the uplifting and encouraging messages of the Lord, and ignore the media frenzy. The Lord wants us to have peace- at any and ALL times. I can see the difference between the Lord and the world now more than ever.

 

Walking

 

I used to take my son to the local fitness center several times a week so we could swim. We love swimming! But since that is closed for now, we have been walking instead. I had no idea my neighborhood was so beautiful. When you are driving by at twenty miles per hour you miss a lot! My neighbors have beautiful gardens.

 

As we have been walking and admiring the scenery, we talk and laugh and the exercise keeps me balanced. Even the dog is thrilled. Everything is a new smell adventure for her. Even though she is small, she needs a change of scenery once in a while. Keeping her sane is just as important as keeping the rest of us sane.

 

Making new friends

 

My son is on the autism spectrum. And he has really struggled with this widespread quarantine. He loves his friends and craves spending time with them. As I watched him struggle, I said a prayer. And the Lord reminded me that I know other autism moms whose kids want more friends too! So, I reached out to a wonderful lady, and her son and mine have quickly become best friends. They have been playing together online every day. It has helped both our families stay sane.

 

I listen to them laugh together and get to know each other. I love that they are not lonely anymore. Their social skills are growing. I have even seen those new social skills transfer to other groups of friends my son has online. Not only is it helping him endure this lock down, but it is helping him learn. Friends are vital, even when you have autism. And I am so grateful my son is making new friends and building his skills.

 

Goals = stay sane

 

To read more of Abby’s articles in her Living in Harmony column, click here.

Finally, I have been blessed as I make goals daily and weekly. This quarantine seems never ending. But as I keep making goals and accomplishing them, this time is not wasted. My family is happier when I am happier. And goals keep me focused on the future and not on being bored.

 

The news is full of daily updates on Covid, and when things will start opening again. But I have put a temporary hold on that, and stopped listening. It leaves me too anxious because I miss my old life. Instead I am focusing on those things that are within my control.

 

As I look around there is a lot of work to do right here! Some has been put off for a long time because I did not have time before. But I do now. May you find fulfillment as you look around and find things that bring you joy. Because the darkness outside doesn’t belong inside our hearts. We can stay sane as we find new things to focus on.

 

About Abby Christianson
Abby is capable and caring. She is learning more about Autism and parenthood every day. Having completed training to be an RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) for ABA therapy she is beginning to understand her son. And even though she is the first to admit she makes a lot of mistakes, she is so grateful to be on this journey. She comes from a family with many autistic members. She invites us to join her, as she shares her adventures. She wishes to emphasize that Autism is a difference not a defect. If you or a family member have autism, Abby wants you to know that the challenges can be overcome, and there are blessings in autism. You or your loved one are not sick or broken. Together we will teach the world this new language.

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