Five Minutes at a Time

As we continue to navigate the abnormal season accompanying COVID-19, I have been trying to keep in mind that we all process the daily life changes and news updates in very different ways. Our unique reactions are understandable given the rapidly changing nature of the current situation and our differences in temperaments, perspectives, and circumstances. Information is readily available online for how to best cope with the changes in schedules and routines as daily life is thrown into a crazy cycle of unexpected and unknown – there seems to be no end to the suggestions for how to make the best of (and be the best in) the current situation. Personally, I find the innumerable resources, tips, tricks, and eye-catching suggestions for ways to deal with being stuck at home somewhat overwhelming. It is easy to start to see these often idealized suggestions, and the perfected images that accompany them, as something everyone should pursue in order to successfully weather this current season.

What I’ve realized is that the “best way” to deal with this season will vary by person. We’re all just trying to do the best we can, where we’re at – and we could all benefit from extending grace to ourselves and those around us as we recognize this reality. It is important to acknowledge that my best will not look the same as your best (and to accept that even our best will likely change by the day, if not by the hour). Our best, even if it’s not always perfect, reflects the stage we’re currently in and takes into account the rate and manner at which we’re processing everything. It is okay if our routine doesn’t match the idealistic suggestions offered online for how to best structure our day. It’s helpful for me to keep this in mind, especially as this particular season continues to stretch on.

Right now, my best often means taking life just five minutes at a time. Similar to taking life one day at a time, it’s my method for breaking certain seasons into more manageable segments; there’s only so much I can process at once. For example, when life is especially chaotic, routines are completely upside down, and the uncertainty of the season feels overwhelming, I’ve found that I need to mentally break the day into half hour blocks or, on those especially difficult days, five minute segments. This doesn’t mean I actually set a timer or watch the clock every five minutes all day long. Although, at first I might check my phone every twenty seconds, incredulous that it hasn’t been an hour already. But, eventually, I realize it’s been longer than five minutes since the last moment I wished the day would speed up and, sometimes, I even get to a point where I end up enjoying the day without paying much attention to the clock at all. For me, breaking the day up by mentally tackling just the next five minutes helps me reestablish a sense of calm so I can move forward into longer stretches. I’ve experienced several seasons in life where I have been confined to indoor activities: one simply being the apparently indefinite, frigid winter season typical for northern Minnesota, and another more difficult season required bed rest for several months. During these especially restricted periods in my life, I’ve often found myself breaking the day in smaller and smaller moments of time until I realize I am less overwhelmed, better able to tackle the rest of the day, and move forward into a new routine.

This is an example of something that has been helpful for me. I recommend finding the suggestion, advice, or method that works best for you to effectively and best deal with the current season. Whatever tip, trick, or encouragement speaks to where you’re at, hold on to it and gently remind yourself it is enough. At this stage, there’s obviously a lot of uncertainty over how long this season will last or what to expect next. Be sure to extend an extra measure of grace to yourself as well as to those around you, we are all just doing the best we can while processing and dealing with this season at our own rate and in our own way to the best of our abilities. And sometimes, if it helps, take the day five minutes at a time, knowing that time will continue to move forward and this season will eventually come to an end.

Wendi, her husband, and their two kids are currently perfecting their best “ya sure you betcha” accents, having recently relocated to northern Minnesota. She is co-author of the blog The Unexpected Ever Afters and a member of the podcast Moms Who Wine.

*photo credit: personal photo*

3 thoughts on “Five Minutes at a Time

  1. This is such a great perspective on how to manage tasks in this time of uncertainty. I too have been overwhelmed at the barrage of advice, to-dos, tips, tricks, recipes, and schedules coming at me. It took me a long time to try to focus and take things day by day. I never thought about breaking it down in smaller chunks like a half-hour or even five minutes?! I am going to try this tip.

    Our region is supposed to reach its apex toward the end of April and the month just started. I feel saddened that I want the month to be over already but I think if I just take little steps at a time, I will be able to focus and get through the days better. Sometimes I feel so paralyzed by my thoughts and for sure don’t give myself enough grace. Thank you for your reminder that we are all trying our best. I hope you and your family stay well through this all!


    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughtful comments! Yes, I found myself getting totally sucked in and then completely overwhelmed by the suggestions for how to make the most of the day. Cheers to finding new routines (and lots of grace, too!) and thank you – I hope you and yours also stay safe through this crisis.


  2. Pingback: Cheers to All Sides of Parenting – the unexpected ever afters

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