Hello fellow Waggers! I know it's been a while. I have been really busy on this deployment, most recently visiting Vietnam, and now trying to recover from this COVID 19 pandemic. Hope everyone has been enjoying the photos of Beermuffs and what he has been up to during this time. If not, be sure to follow #adventureswithbeermuffs on Facebook and Instagram to check it out!
As some of you many know, I have been on deployment with the USS Theodore Roosevelt since January of this year, and have been working with one of the squadrons on board. Up until a few weeks ago, things were going well with the daily grind. I was able to establish a new routine involving exercise and work schedules, along with making sure that I was getting adequate sleep and eating the right foods (most of the time). Being on a ship definitely has its challenges, as I am often not afforded many of the luxuries that I have back home as far as self care is concerned. Still, through the support of my peers, family and friends, I always know that I can overcome and adapt to whatever life throws my way.
Recently, as most have seen in the news, my ship had a few cases of COVID 19, and as a result has decided to quarantine all the sailors aboard. I, along with many fellow sailors, am now in a hotel room for the next 14 days so that we can ensure that everyone will be healthy when we return to the ship. Given this interesting turn of events, I now need to figure out ways to stay engaged, healthy and motivated. This is not easy for me, as I am typically motivated by a purpose. One could call me an existentialism oriented person. Of course, looking at the big picture I could say my purpose right now is to get healthy for the greater good, so that we can continue the mission. However, sometimes it is easy to fall into a spiral of hopelessness and anxiety. The goal is to not go there!
So, what have I learned in my years of working in mental health and being more aware of how I cope? I'm sure many of you out there are dealing with a similar dilemma. As many states have ordered these stay at home policies I know a lot of you are feeling my pain in asking "now what?" or "how long will this last?" It is important to allow yourself to feel the sadness and anxiety associated with these questions. Give yourself some time to grieve, be angry, be depressed, feel whatever it is you are feeling in the moment. The important thing is that you do not stay stuck in these feelings, but rather let them pass in their own time. It's important to look at ways to establish a "new normal" for yourself that can get you through until we are free and clear of this virus. Even when this is all over and done with, it is quite possible that things may not completely go back to "normal" and understand that this is okay. Change isn't necessarily a bad thing, and we may benefit from trying to see the good and the lessons learned that come out of all of this. Because, if not, then why go through all of this? I would challenge everyone reading this to look for your WHY that is going to get you through.
First thing is first, I know I harp on this a lot, but being in isolation for an extended period of time is going to require the establishment of a new routine. Routines are the backbone of our daily activities, provide us with structure and guidance, and give a purpose to live for. For example, when I learned that I was going to be placed in a hotel room for 14 days with no physical contact with other humans, and that I was not allowed to leave my room for any reason, I had to think about what my new normal was going to look like. I couldn't go to the gym or go for a run, which is my ultimate coping skill! I couldn't really go outside, other than my balcony, and I wasn't going to be able to choose the food that I eat. What on earth was I going to do! After my initial panic subsided, I started thinking of a plan to establish a new routine.
What did this routine look like? First I had to figure out the things I could not control. In this case, meals and medical checks. I had to figure out what times my meals would be provided, and what times the medical personnel would be coming to check my temperature. I also had certain deadlines to report any symptoms I may be experiencing and maintaining contact with my Chain of Command. In being isolated, it is important to identify those factors that you cannot control, and schedule your day around those things so that you can still establish some sense of normalcy for yourself.
After figuring out this schedule, I was able to then make a list of the bare minimum things I would need to do to maintain my physical and mental well being. I'm not able to exercise the way I typically do. I have no equipment, and I definitely can't go running. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have a health and fitness coach in the family. I reached out to my brother and asked him to send me some workouts I can do in a hotel room with zero equipment. He's been posting workouts on his business page, www.wolffitcoaching.com
I also went onto Youtube and downloaded some free workout videos. For those of you who don't mind spending some money, Beachbody on demand has all their workout series available to stream from home for about $10 per month. There are so many options out there I didn't know about until I started asking the right questions! So now I have a variety of workouts to do in my hotel room. Perfect.
Now what do I do with the rest of my time? Luckily I was able to think ahead and packed some books that I've been wanting to read. I packed my Start Today journal so that I can stay on track with my goals. I packed my laptop so that I could do research, stay in touch with friends and family, and write blog posts for all of you lovely people that read them. I also made a list of all of the things I wanted to do while I was given this gift of time. I plan on watching some movies and TV shows. I plan on doing more research on mental health. I plan on creating an online course as part of Wags for Wellness. I plan on making a plan for Wags for Wellness when I get back from deployment. Making this list got me excited and, believe it or not, helped me re establish my purpose! You don't lose your purpose in life just because things get put on hold for a little bit. You have to decide to keep that purpose and find ways to work towards it even when things don't go as planned. My purpose still is, and always will be, to help others overcome obstacles and increase their resiliency with the assistance of our four legged best friends.
I would love to hear from everyone! What are you doing during this quarantine time period? How are you coping with all of these changes? If you have dogs, how are they helping you get through this? Leave your comments below!
Enjoy a picture I took today of Beermuffs in quarantine. As always, Be Well and Wag On!