Consumer Justice Concord

Stuck At Home – What To Buy And Not To Buy

People from around the world are reaching out to us because they’ve reached a breaking point. They’ve simply had enough: Enough of being inside. Enough of working remotely. Enough of having businesses shut down. Enough of schools being closed. Enough of being isolated. Enough of everything.

The common message they communicate in time management consultations is, I just can’t do this anymore. Some break down in tears.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives in a multitude of ways. And after months of being stuck inside, limiting exposure to friends and family, and juggling responsibilities at home and at work, it’s no surprise that many of us are dealing with frustration, anger, and more. If you find yourself in that situation where you don’t feel like you can handle what’s happening anymore and you’ve lost motivation to even try, you’re not alone. Putting you under a tremendous amount of stress, increasing your responsibilities, and stripping you of your support networks is a recipe for burnout and breakdown.

But you have a choice. You can succumb to the pressure and give up, or you can rally and fight for your career, your life, and your mental health. If you choose the first option, you guarantee failure. The second option, though, will give you the opportunity to innovate, to succeed, and to grow stronger through what you overcome.

I recommend you use everything that’s happening to you right now as an opportunity to become a more resilient person who has the desire and motivation to do your best each day. Instead of being crushed by the weight of it all, approach life with a sense of hope and tenacity that motivates you to not only get through — but also thrive.

Feel Your Anger

It’s natural and normal to feel angry about what’s happening right now. And it’s important to acknowledge and express that anger in healthy ways. Repressed anger can cause anxiety and depression, as well as lead to heart problems, headaches, skin disorders, and digestive issues. Anger that is not dealt with in healthy ways can also lead to emotionally or physically abusive behavior toward the people closest to you.

To release the anger, frustration, and even rage, recognize and accept that you’re feeling it. In psychology, the acceptance paradox is that when you accept what you’re truly feeling, those emotions then have less power over you — not more. So do that. Admit that you’re fed up, frustrated, angry, disgusted, etc. It’s the first step toward freedom.

Then, find healthy ways to release your anger. If you’re in a very heightened state, you may simply want to be alone — or as alone as possible — and then unleash what you’re feeling. This could look like taking a hard run, punching a punching bag, screaming into a pillow or in your car, or doing something more calming, like taking deep slow breaths, stretching, or journaling. Anger is an extremely strong emotion and until you release it, the energy of it will agitate you.

Question What Is Possible

We tend to have established places we go and ways of doing things. But now is a time to question everything. In my own life, I’ve switched churches and gyms so that I could meet in an in-person (yet safe) environment that was best for me. Some people I know have switched school districts or sent their kids to private school, so that they could have five days a week of in-person learning instead of remote options. Others have done the opposite, choosing to stay fully remote. And I know some people who have even moved to a different state — some temporarily and others permanently — so that they would have access to schools and other amenities.

What about you? Could you find new places to go for the things you enjoy doing? Sometimes by just hopping over a city, county, or state line, you’ll find many more opportunities available to you. Given that most work and quite a number of schools are remote, you may even have the ability to move to a more rural area or go to a different state without too much disruption in your family’s routine.

If to stay sane, you need to not be under stay-at-home orders, need your kids in school, and require indoor gyms to be open, there may be options outside of your immediate environment. Look into them. Do a short-term rental, get a camper, or even look into moving permanently if that’s an option for you. If you have choices and the resources to act on those choices, you might be able to put yourself in a situation where you find day-to-day life less stressful so you have more energy and motivation to tackle work and other important parts of your life.

Accept What You Aren’t Changing

There may be some areas where you either can’t or don’t want to change the situation. Your children may be happy and thriving in their hybrid approach in school and in your community. Your family may not have the money to uproot and move, even temporarily. Or maybe your organization has chosen to stay remote for a long time, and while that situation isn’t ideal, you love the company and don’t want to change jobs.

In those cases, you need to accept your situation as it stands. Accepting what you can’t change or what you’re choosing not to change helps to make your situation feel less stressful because you’re acknowledging your autonomy: “I am choosing to stay in this job, to stay involved in this organization, or to continue to live in this city. Through this choice, I am accepting these certain limits that are currently imposed, and it is in my control.” Once accepted, then find ways to make the situation more doable for you.

Develop a Strategy for Moving Forward

Once you’ve questioned everything in your environment, then you will need to develop a strategy for moving forward within these realities.

If you’re working from home and feel uncomfortable in your current workspace, make small modifications like adding a new chair or better lighting that can improve the situation for you. Or move your office to another room for a change of scenery. If you have your kids doing remote learning, see if you can get a babysitter or join a pod to have someone else help with supervision. If that’s not possible, work on a schedule to help get your kids set up as much as possible before school starts so there are fewer interruptions throughout the day.

And think through strategies to up your drive to get things done. That could look like using services like Focus mate, where you can sign up to have a remote working buddy on a video call with you for a focused block of work time. Or you can identify an area of your job where you would like to learn and grow. Instead of looking to “just get by” in all of your work, pick at least one project where you’re going to knock it out of the park, do really good work, and push yourself. Choosing a stretch project will require a bit more effort can get you out of a “minimum viable” attitude and reinvigorate your passion for what you are doing.

Invest in Self-Care

Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eating a bunch of sugar or drinking a bottle of wine each night might feel satisfying in the moment, but they are unhealthy options in the long run. Instead, positively alter your brain chemistry by investing in simple things that make a huge difference in your mental state, including guarding against depression and anxiety and getting enough sleep.

Those options include exercising, being outside, doing a creative hobby, connecting with family and friends, laughing, praying, journaling, going to a religious service, reading, and listening to music. These simple activities not only release feel-good chemicals, but also help us to avoid the feeling of learned helplessness, meaning that no matter what I do I can’t improve my situation.

We’re in a time that is unusually challenging worldwide. But I have confidence that you have what it takes to not only get through but also to come out even better than before. Use and reuse these steps to stay motivated and to keep moving forward, even when times are tough.

So Now Let’s Talk About What To Buy And Not Buy.

The question you need to ask yourself is, do you need to buy anything? <NO>

Things to make staying home easier while social distancing

  1. For watching TV: This streaming device

The Roku remote even uses voice control so you can speak your requests.

The Roku remote even uses voice control so you can speak your requests.

Finally: A reason not to feel guilty when you tell Netflix for the 129387th time that yes, you’re still watching (after all, you can’t go anywhere!). For the best streaming experience, we love the Roku Ultra. It’s compatible with all of the biggest streaming services (including Hulu, HBO, and Apple TV) and has an easy-to-use remote that you can control with your voice.

  1. For reading more books: The number one Kindle

The Paperwhite is perfect for reading—and listening to—your favorite books.

You now have all the time in the world to read those books that have been on your list—but the library is closed. Fortunately, Kindles exist. And of all the ones we’ve used, we like the latest Kindle Paperwhite the best. Not only does it have 24 different levels of illumination (perfect for reading anytime, anywhere!) but it’s also waterproof and has the most storage of any model so you won’t run out of room for all your books and podcasts.

-Fedrick Gold – Staff Writer