BY: CLAIRE SIERRA We’re in a brave new world now, aren’t we? Usually I’m writing you around now, while collating and sharing events at the Balch and around the region. But something different emerged today. As I wrote, I encountered 10 tips. Each day seems like its own month. The ups and downs are remarkable. I imagine you’re going through your own version of freak-out/feeling fine. Crazy, but now is the time to come home to ourselves. I wanted to update you on things at the Balch, in case you wanted to visit. And offer some timely support. I know you rely on us as a place of respite and refuge, your own personal retreat from the world out in the middle of nowhere (yet close to so much cool stuff!) And we are still that place. I wanted to share a few ideas in these challenging times. I feel strongly that while we need “physical distance,” (along with copious hand washing — mamma mia!) we don’t need “social distance” –that is the language of control and isolation. Words shape how we think and we need connection now, more than ever. People are showing signs of stress, isolation and loneliness — which as a therapist, I know is a key trigger for depression and anxiety. Whoa, nelly! So, a few antidotes (read on.) If you are someone who is used to going to work in an office, school, shop, bar or restaurant, you are used to and likely craving social connection. And with your work routine tumbled about (or gone entirely), you might be feeling a bit lost or panicked. I’ve worked from home for many years, and I’ve been relaxed, effective and productive. I’ve developed a mostly-sane rhythm for myself. So here are some suggestions to help you maintain (or regain) stability and sanity in what is an uncommonly stressful time. Think of this as a retreat. You may have wanted some stay-cation, and here it is! Use this time to rest and replenish. Give yourself a several days to sleep in and lounge around. Just notice if you feel good and empowered. or if are you slipping into malaise. Expect emotional turmoil. If it lasts, break the pattern. Move on to step 2. Create structure for yourself. If you’re used to getting up at 6 or 8 am and making coffee, do that. Get dressed. (Thanks, Mom! She suggested this one.) Decide when your breaks will be. Create lists so you can shift gears, as needed, to re-focus. Or make a new routine. You get to decide how you want to spend your time. If you’re not used to being at home so much, it’s disorienting and can take a while to find the perfect balance. (And for god’s sake, limit time on the rabbithole of social media. It’s dangerous in there!) Dive deep into self-care. This is the retreat you’ve been wanting—or not! Here it is, though. Think of this as the perfect moment and that all is well. (That alone will help immensely.) I suggest 20 minutes or longer for morning spiritual practice. (My morning practice is up to 2 hours. I love how it sets the tone for my day.) Afternoon, around 3 or 4, is another great break to reconnect. You could read sacred text, pray, guided meditation, contemplative journaling, connecting with higher guidance, using oracle cards, oiliating your body, doing yoga on-line … endless options. Get outdoors. Right now, outside is the safest place to be! Take walks around your neighborhood or go to the local park. Meet friends or neighbors there, and stay a safe 6 feet away. (Remember, wash up when you go back inside.) Stay connected. Network, co-work and have virtual meetings with colleagues. For many of you, remote meetings aren’t the norm. Virtual meetings serve a variety of tasks and purposes. Spend an extra 10 minutes at the start of team meetings to catch up on each other’s personal lives. For co-working, you get on video together, share what you’ll be working on, set a time, then go do it! It’s incredibly effective at getting those avoidable tasks done. It’s a great way to do projects together or work separately yet together in a virtual room. Set up virtual coffee, lunch and dinner dates. Using Zoom, Facetime, Messenger and Skype video conferencing, it’s never been easier to visit while staying home. Here are a few tips on staying productive and forging a shared community with your friends, family and coworkers. Everyone’s at home, now what? How disorienting it is, to juggle having your spouse and/or kids at home also home, when you’re trying to work. You probably have different rhythms. They may need schedules or routines, too. And expect meltdowns, they happen. Communicate with compassion — everyone is having a time of it. Set clear boundaries and expectations. Help each other find emotional balance in a stormy time. Check in on a friend or colleague, or 3. Never have we been happier to receive a random phone call! We now have time we never anticipated. Trust that your timing will be perfect, and you’ll be a blessing to each other. Do this daily. Practice gratitude. Research from Dr Joe Dispenza reveals that 10 minutes of gratitude boosts your immune system for 4 days! One meditation is simply closing your eyes and feeling the appreciation for all the things going well in your life. If you need a boost, there are great gratitude meditations to be found on-line using YouTube or Insight Timer app. Or start a gratitude journal and list things you feel happy and appreciative about. Start small, go big. Everything counts. Make sure to disconnect from work at the end of the day. (Surprisingly, that’s the biggest reported issue about working remotely.) Now that there’s not a clear “on” and “off” to your workday, it might be sloppy at first. That’s okay, you’re human and learning a new way of being. Be compassionate with yourself and family members who might be struggling to find balance and new rhythm. Reach out for support. Whether that’s friends, colleagues or professional helpers (like me), it’s not a time to “fake it till you make it.” Let others know, so we can help you. We don’t have to do this along—just at arm’s length. These might seem like small things, but they can make a world of difference. Let us know if you have suggestions to add to this article — we want to hear what’s working for you. In the meanwhile, know it pains us not to encourage your visit, and we’ll look forward to seeing you soon. We (still) like it better when you’re here. This widespread change in travel means a loss of business that is devastating for us and other small businesses. So…. We are offering a Discounted Gift Certificate so that you can travel later at reduced fee. This helps us by replacing lost cash flow and helps YOU with a getaway at a reduced cost. Purchase between $75 and $500 in value (good for bistro, lodging and spa) and get 20% off. Use Coupon Code: GorgeLove And while it may not seem true, The Magic IS (still) Closer Than You Think. Claire P.S. At the Balch we’re very aware of the heavy toll this outbreak may be taking on your emotional well-being. You might be feeling isolated, lonely and disconnected from the people you normally see every day. You’re not alone. Lean into the tools above to create a new reality for yourself. Develop new routines that support you. Break down the physical barriers. And reach out for support. You know me as a boutique hotel owner, but I’ve as therapist and coach for years. I offer coaching, therapy and several sessions that have been enormously helpful to clients and might be perfect for you. We know that in challenging times like these that the power of care, connection, tranquility and wide-open nature—the essence of the Balch experience — are needed most of all. Whether you’re traveling now or in the future, we’re here and ready to welcome you with our world class hospitality that you’ve come to expect. At the risk of being vulnerable, we could use your help. If you’re in a place to plan ahead, we both win. Purchase a Discounted Gift Certificate and travel later at reduced cost. This helps us by replacing funds lost through cancellations due to this health situation. Click here and use Coupon Code GorgeLove to receive this 20% discount. OR: go to website, click Book Now, and then go to the Gift Certificate tab. Choose an amount from $75 to $500. (These are transferable and unused amounts can roll over to another visit.) Good for lodging, food and spa services. Available now through end of March. If you need to adjust reservations, please contact us at 541.467.2277. To adjust reservations made through an online booking agent or travel site, please contact them for assistance.