Coronavirus blog: Coping with COVID-19 crisis

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- I thought life was already hectic with a full-time career and three kids but I had no idea it was about to get crazier when the novel coronavirus pandemic hit. We are all being impacted by this crisis and I have been hearing from everyone from family to friends to parents of kids that go to the same schools as mine to complete strangers when I have gone out for essential services. I felt a strong urge to start this blog because it has been therapeutic for me to put my feelings on paper. I wanted to give other people the opportunity to do the same in the hopes that it would help them. I would love to hear how you're feeling and coping so please feel free to share.

CORONAVIRUS BLOG: ABC7 Meteorologist Sandhya Patel opens up about navigating life during COVID-19 crisis

Pandemic pandemonium:

The week that the coronavirus started taking a toll on the Bay Area, I went into flight or fight mode. I felt like a hermit the first week! I didn't leave my house except to drive to work and back. My kids stayed home too. They didn't even want to go out for fresh air. That was a good thing considering coronavirus was growing exponentially. My husband was the only one left the house for absolute essentials like food. I really love my sleep and no one knows this better than my husband who noticed that I was waking up earlier than usual for what appeared to be no reason at all. When he asked me why I told him I didn't know because I truly had not connected the dots yet. The funny thing is I wasn't and haven't been feeling tired at all. I have averaged about six to six and a half hours of sleep daily. On the weekends, I usually get about eight to nine hours and that has helped me recharge.

One morning when I woke up earlier than I wanted, I thought about writing this blog. After thinking about what my husband asked me, I realized my brain was not really shutting off because there was so much going through my mind! When I got into bed, I had no problems sleeping as usual. I knocked out within a few minutes. I just found myself waking up way earlier than I wanted. I had a lot on my mind.

How will my kids do with school at home? How will my husband and I work while trying to help them? How do we stay safe? This is why I wasn't sleeping in!

We were being bombarded by emails from the schools and companies we have done business with over the years. I was just trying to do everything and anything I can to help keep the household together, adjust to the at homeschooling, help out in any way I can at work. That meant checking work emails early in the morning and staying on developments while trying to cook and help my kids with homework.

Our oldest daughter Alexandria is really independent, success-driven and a straight "A" student. The twins are in a league of their own. Nicholas is as laid back as they come so he likes to spread out his homework, do it in his pjs and robe, moves around to different parts of the house and Ashley requires more help. I have gone from teacher and chef by day to forecaster by night! I never said I was great at everything :)

My husband is in biotech and has been working much longer days from home. Since he works regular hours and has a lot of group meetings, I was trying to do what I could to help and he also assisted with getting the meals to the kids, dishes, and cleanup.

Emotions were running high during the first week of the crisis. The twins adjusted and adapted very well but, our oldest daughter was a little upset that she may not have a middle school graduation ceremony or get to go to Great America. As her school assignments began coming in, she was getting overwhelmed! She didn't know how she was going to complete these on time. We told her to do her best, communicate with her teachers and she would be fine. She adjusted after a few days. Kids are resilient and I feel that mine has coped well but, I wonder about other kids and the emotional toll this will have and if this will cause long term mental impacts. If you or your loved ones are having a hard time and need help, we have resources you can turn to.

Working & Staying Healthy:

I was going to work not worried about getting the virus but, just staying healthy so I would clean all the computers and phones before touching them, I washed my hands more than usual and really just ate well which meant more veggies and fruits to boost my immune system. I wanted to do what I can to stay healthy, keep others around me and my family safe. Let's just say, I have never dieted in my life because I love food too much so this is my weakness! I think it's important to listen to your body since we're all under so much stress right now and eat what you feel like as long as you replenish with nutrients and as many healthy options as possible. One day, I cooked half a big container of spinach, threw in a yogurt curry and ate the whole thing as my meal with radish, carrots and celery on the side! That wasn't supposed to be an entree, just a side dish but, at least it was a healthy one!

Worries:

When the news grew dim by the day about the caliber of this coronavirus and that self-isolation was recommended, I called my parents to ask them if they were doing this. They mentioned that they were feeling well and only going out to get groceries or medication. I know they have lived their lives, had their challenges and are way more laid back about things but, I don't think they or other older parents that we know quite got how serious this was right away. It took them time to digest this information.

I tried to call my parents regularly just to see how they were doing since they were in isolation. My dad has a heart condition and just had a triple bypass several years ago when we almost lost him so he is at high risk. My brother was kind enough to check on them and get them the groceries and medications they needed so they wouldn't have to leave home. My dad is a homebody and prefers to just read, relax and watch the nightly news. My mom, on the other hand, is a social butterfly and really enjoys her walks, shopping, getting together for lunch or dinner with her friends and family. That was not going to fly! I told my mom that she is going to put herself and my dad at high risk is she didn't isolate. My siblings also called them to let them know. They understood and went into isolation. I asked my kids to FaceTime them more than usual because I worried about what impact this would have on them. I didn't want them to get depressed even though I know they are tough and have their strong faith.

Faith & Coping:

My faith is one thing I have relied on to get me through these tough times. I have faced some very challenging moments in the past and this is what helped me. I have this comfort knowing that we will somehow get through this in a matter of time.

I have also been working out a few days a week on my elliptical or taking a quick walk with my husband. One day we took our kids out for a short walk keeping a safe social distance just to get them some fresh air. I enjoy cooking but, trying to get food on the table has not been easy! I couldn't do this daily. We did do takeout just to survive but, made sure we had cleaned everything thoroughly so we hope, weren't exposed to anything.

One thing that has been very important in our family is eating together. This means no devices, just the five of us enjoying each other's company and our meals while talking about our day. Work is important but, do your best to unplug when you are having meals with your families.

Everyone copes with a crisis differently. I found taking a short walk, getting fresh air and taking pictures of nature did wonders for me because I love photography!

My advice to you, take a moment to breathe and enjoy the beauty that surrounds us.

I also found myself doing exercises I'm not good at just to help the kids stay in shape and meet the PE requirements from schools. Trust me, doing planks was not my idea of fun!

The kids got creative and did it to music and somehow, I got roped in occasionally! It was actually all good and we got a chance to laugh together. This morning while doing stretching exercises with my younger daughter who wasn't exactly following the routine, I broke out into laughter! She provided comic relief and we all need that at a time like this! I have a new appreciation for all the teachers who have done a remarkable job trying to teach our kids at home! My hats off to them! They have had to design a plan in a matter of days so the kids can keep learning and every family has different needs so this hasn't exactly been a cakewalk for anyone!

Working From Home:

A few weeks ago, my managers had a meeting to discuss how we would do our jobs if this virus got out of control. I asked if there was an option to work from home and still be able to build our weather graphics and provide our viewers with the forecast. I had no idea that a week later, I would have the technology and management support to execute this! Here I am working from home and bringing you the same forecast you have relied upon for years. It's just from a different location for the time being. I was scheduled to work a Saturday afternoon-evening shift about a month ago. Little did I know when I agreed to this that we would be facing a pandemic! Who would have thought that a virus could single-handedly take our global economy into a recession?

It's unbelievable how bad it has been all over the country with the growing number of cases and across the world! I began testing the remote equipment, worked with our engineers on glitches and let my managers know that we were good to go if we wanted. They allowed me to do 11pm on Saturday night from home. Viewership has gone way up since we're all stuck inside! I appreciate the fact that they trusted in me enough to try something that has never been done before at ABC7, build a show from home and put it on the air with very little fancy equipment other than the weather computer!

I am doing my part to bend the curve or flatten the curve. I feel strongly that we all need to be in this together to make the difference. We will all get through this tough time as long as we work together.

I would love to hear from you so feel free to share your thoughts on my social media pages. Follow on Facebook and Twitter for the latest on weather in the Bay Area and so much more!

Go here for the latest news, information and videos about the coronavirus.

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