How to ACE Your Days During Social Distancing
With a few simple practices, your days can be more fulfilling and enjoyable.
Posted Apr 29, 2020
Many of us have been practicing social distancing for well over a month. We are spending long days in our homes and might be stuck in a rut. The same routines could be getting boring, or we might be feeling increasingly burned out or even a little depressed. Whatever unique stressors we each face, there is a simple tool that can help us get more out of our days. The acronym is A.C.E., for Achievement, Closeness, and Enjoyment. These are three primary needs we each have, and they are useful to keep in mind when planning activities and for reflection at the end of each day or week. A simple goal would be to have at least one activity for each letter completed each day.
The “A” for Achievement reminds us of the benefits of being productive. Many of us may have this need met through our work, but with the high level of unemployment and challenges leaving the house it has become much more difficult. Instead, we need to get creative and turn our attention to little things we can get done at home. You might set small short-term goals as simple as getting laundry or dishes done, or larger medium-term goals like starting a new home maintenance project or taking an online course.
The “C” for Closeness raises the importance of maintaining social connections. It is important to emphasize that this means an actual feeling of closeness. You might be living in very tight quarters with family or roommates but lack a true sense of emotional intimacy with any of them. If that is the case, this need is not being met. Try to seek out people or communities that give you a sense of belonging. Spend some quality time with a pet. You might reach out to friends on the phone or video or find a church service or meditation group you can attend online.
Finally, the “E” for Enjoyment gives us permission to kick back and have some fun. To meet this need, seek out activities, people, and situations that give you a sense of joy or delight. Prioritize things that make you smile, laugh, and feel like the burdens of life are lifted for a little while. It could be as simple as watching a favorite comic on television, engaging in an enjoyable hobby, calling a friend who makes you laugh, or watching pets play with their favorite toys.
The best ways to use the ACE model are as a planning tool and a structure for reflection. When planning your days, look at your to-do list or calendar and make sure you have a little bit of achievement, closeness, and enjoyment scheduled for each day. As a tool for reflection, you can take a moment at the end of each day to reflect on when each of these needs were met. You could journal about it, or simply contemplate it for a few moments. You might notice that some activities fulfill more than one need. For instance, calling a friend who makes you laugh might fulfill the need for closeness and enjoyment.
However little we might be able to do outside the home right now, we still have some control over how we plan and experience our days. When you schedule experiences of achievement, closeness, and enjoyment, and savor them when they arise, you are taking an important step to maintain your well-being during these challenging times.