20 Tips to Stay Motivated During a Pandemic
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This is a post that I never thought I’d be writing … never in a million years. The world has suddenly changed in a matter of months, weeks, or even a few days for some of us.
Why has the world changed (for those of you reading this a long time into the future)? The new coronavirus called COVID-19.
I promise not to get political here or claim that my opinions on how to handle it are the way to solve this deadly pandemic. We all have our opinions … but few of us are experts including me.
So instead, I’d like to offer my list of ways to stay motivated & healthy during this crisis. It is my way of coping and helping my family through this disaster.
Tips on Staying Motivated During a Pandemic
We all have our own way of dealing with situations like this … although I suspect that very few people (if any) who are reading this have ever lived through a pandemic.
It is my first time … and my wife’s … and certainly my kids.
My kids think this is like having a snow day. And for now … my wife and I are okay with them thinking this way … while trying to talk with them about what is actually going on without scaring the crap out of them.
It’s tough … but we will all get through this I know. Yes, this disease is making a bunch of people of all ages sick and some are dying. It is bad … but it isn’t the end of the world (based on my unscientific gut feeling).
So here is a brainstormed list of ways my family and I will cope with the COVID-19 outbreak.
These are things I plan to do (along with my family) while we are isolated and practicing physical distancing (I don’t like to use the term social distancing) –
1. Write More
Over the past couple of months, I have been wanting to focus more on my blog (The Money Sprout) and writing. Unfortunately, over the past couple of years I have kinda let it go … not writing as much as I’d like.
So now will be a great time to pick back up on writing and growing the blog. Hopefully I will keep it up after all this settles down.
2. Spend (More) Time with My Family
All 3 of my kids have transitioned to eLearning now for school for at least the next 2 weeks, although I don’t see them going physically back to school this year. My wife is already a stay at home mom and I am now teleworking indefinitely, for which I feel fortunate.
So this is a great time to spend even more time with my family. I plan to value this time a lot as our oldest child will be off to college in a few years.
We are also limiting our interactions with family members and friends outside of our immediate household. With older grandparents, we are keeping our kids away from them until we know it is safe.
3. Play Some Board Games
Speaking of spending more time with the family … one great non-electronic activity will be to play board games.
I got a few board games this past Christmas that we hadn’t found time to play yet. So now is the time to break them out and start playing!
4. Continue Investing in Dividend Stocks
I don’t have any plans to stop investing new money into the stock market, especially dividend stocks. That means reinvesting the dividend income my wife and I are earning, along with adding new investment dollars.
One of our strategies to financial independence is to build a sustainable income stream from bluechip dividend stocks. I am guessing that many companies dividend history and growth will be tested over the next year … so we will follow our guidelines on when to sell, stay put, or keep investing.
5. Stay the Course
I invested through the Great Recession back in 2008 and beyond and I plan to do the same this time around. As I mentioned before, staying the course with our dividend income investing is one strategy we are continuing with through this economic downturn.
I also plan to continue maxing out my 457b plan at work, along with my Roth IRA and my wifes.
Has the market downturn impacted my investing? I would be lying if I didn’t admit that it hurts to look at our investment accounts. But I learned back in 2008 to stay the course and we will do the same this time around.
One positive thing this time … our oldest son is starting to learn about economic downturns and hopefully I can teach him about long term investing strategies.
There are no plans to sell any of our positions and we plan to invest through this next downturn.
6. Learn New Skills
My job is in the IT industry. And as I mentioned earlier, I am fortunate to have the opportunity to telework through this pandemic.
Overall, my current job is likely safer than some. But an extended downturn could eventually be an issue.
So while I have some in demand IT skills at my current job … I’d like to diversify my skill set and learn new things.
What do I have to lose? I will have more time available, cutting out almost 2 hours of commute time while I telework. And if we are stuck in our home for an extended period of time … then I plan to learn some new IT skills.
Plus there are plenty of other non-IT skills I’d like to learn … so in a way I’m looking forward to this opportunity.
7. Plant a Vegetable Garden
My daughter and I have grown a small vegetable garden the past two years. With spring temperatures finally starting … now is the time to start our garden for this summer.
Since we have a lot more time to focus on it now … we may expand a little this year and try some different types of plants. In the past we’ve mostly just focused on tomatoes and peppers. One year we grew sweet potatoes and last year we grew some kale which was a success.
This year we will probably expand.
8. Keep Exercising
With the virus going around like crazy … now is an even better time to stay healthy and exercise. While I don’t want to overdue things and threaten my immune system … I still want to stay active and keep exercising.
Since I have a lot more time now, I hope to focus on some other forms of exercising like lifting weights, etc.
And I have been encouraging my kids to get outside and have fun … just not around a lot of other kids or people though.
9. Try New Things
What a great time to step out of my comfort zone and try some new things? One of my goals for this year (2020) was to try yoga. Well, it is mid-March and I haven’t done any yoga yet this year so I don’t have any more excuses now!
I’d also like to try some meditation to see if it will help with stress.
And there are some other new and exciting things I’d like to try that have nothing to do with exercise – like learning to play the piano.
10. Become More Self Sufficient
It is times like this where I realize how much of our daily life is reliant on other countries and people from all across the world.
I’ve always had an interest in being self sufficient with our personal finances … although we are not where we want to be.
But this can apply to other areas in life – like growing your own food or doing your own home repair.
I could write an entire set of posts just on my thoughts of self sufficiency. I’d like to use this time to discover other areas of our life that we can make changes to in this area.
11. Work on My House
My wife and I have plans to sell our home in about 2 years. We want to downsize once our oldest kid graduates high school.
But our current home needs a ton of updates, which have been piling up on a list of things to fix.
Well … as long as I can still get the supplies I need to make repairs, I plan to start focusing a lot on fixing up the house.
12. Limit Social Media & News
Talk about easy ways to get sick … watching the news and following social media can ruin your health just from the stress.
Don’t get me wrong, we still need to stay informed … but there has to be limits (at least for me) or I will worry myself to death.
My plans are to limit social media and any news to once per day for now … probably in the mornings for a few minutes to check up on the latest news.
13. Continue to Intermittent Fast (IF) Every Day
I recently wrote how intermittent fasting is my favorite life hack … and nothing has changed. In fact, I am even more in support of IF now that my family and I are trying to stay healthy during this uncertain time.
Will intermittent fasting prevent me from catching the virus? I doubt it completely, but I feel much healthier whenever I am fasting.
I have been doing at least 16 hours of fasting (up to 24 hours at times) every day since mid-January. And I plan to keep on at it for as long as I can (which isn’t too hard).
14. Eat Healthy for as Long as Possible
This is kinda the follow up to intermittent fasting … I am going to continue eating healthy. My goal is to put my body in the best possible position to stay healthy.
This means – no sugar at all and definitely no seed oils. I don’t eat gluten or dairy right now and am trying to limit processed foods.
Since mid-January, I have been following the Whole30 diet. Just last week I passed day 60 and have lost almost 14 pounds since then!
My plan is to continue this way of eating through this pandemic … or at least as long as I can continue to buy these healthy foods to eat. And more important … I am encouraging my family members to eat the same way.
15. Finish Estate Planning
My wife and I have taken many steps over the past year working on our estate planning. With 3 kids … it is critical that they are taken care of and our assets dispersed appropriately.
But while we have done a lot of planning … there are still a few tasks that need to be completed.
I don’t want to sound negative … but a pandemic will make you start thinking about these things. So over the next few weeks, my wife and I are planning to review and complete our estate plan.
16. Look for New Opportunities
Market downturns and recessions always seem to be good times for innovation and new thinking … and I don’t think this time is any different.
Yes … we have a very contagious and deadly pandemic going on right now. But there will most certainly be a lot of new opportunity that will come of this.
Maybe I will finally start my side service business I have been putting off? Or maybe I will finally buy that first real estate investment I passed up back in 2008?
This is a time to look for new opportunities.
17. Learn Gratitude
It is sad for me to admit … but times like this make me stop and think about what I truly am grateful for. My family, for example, is the number #1 priority in my life … followed closely by my health.
There are certainly plenty of other things that I am grateful for and I plan to show it now.
Too often we get caught up in the wrong priorities in life (especially when we get too busy). For example, I have a passion for investing and building side income streams.
But those don’t compare to the more important parts of my life … like my family. So I plan to spend more time on showing gratitude over the coming months on what really matters in my life.
18. Waste Less
My grandparents lived through the Great Depression. I have been fortunate to hear stories of how life was back then, which I believe has helped shaped who I am today.
Our family has always tried to limit waste as much as possible … but it isn’t easy.
However … now may be a great time to adopt some new waste-less habits. With shortages of toilet paper and canned goods in our area, we will try and live better with what we have in our home.
I have heard the stories from my grandparents about never wasting anything … and now I think it is my family’s time to learn this lesson too.
19. Get Outside
I will continue to get outside and encourage my kids to do the same, especially now that spring is here. Just because we are quarantined doesn’t mean we can’t go outside … at least where we live. Unfortunately, I’m not sure those living in big cities can say the same … but I can’t really comment on that.
Fresh air, the sun (for vitamin D), and just being outdoors can help keep my family healthy.
20. Take a Nap and Just Slow Down
I really can’t remember the last time I actually took a nap. For the longest time I have prided myself on being busy and never felt like I had the time to slow down … and even take a nap.
Well guess what … I plan to start napping (I hope) from time to time. And in general … even though I have a list of things to keep me busy and fit … I hope to just take this time to slow down and enjoy what I have.
I think we all can take this time to do the same!
So those are just some of the thoughts that came to mind as I sit here thinking about being quarantined for several weeks … and possibly many months.
While our normal routines have been spun around … there are plenty of things that we can still enjoy like being outside, exercising, and spending time with your family.
I hope everyone stays safe during the next several months. And in a year or two we can look back at this unprecedented time in our lives!
How are you handling the COVID-19 pandemic? What changes are you making in your daily routine to help keep your family safe and happy?