Surviving these times means being intentional with our thoughts, our relationships and our bodies.
Are you finding yourself easily frustrated these days, with a shorter fuse? When the news is all doom and gloom—as it has been since the outbreak of the Coronavirus— it’s hard for even the most optimistic among us to stay positive. It’s true that we need to take this virus seriously. There are important things to know, to protect yourself and those around you, but you do not need to become an expert on COVID-19.
Instead, be deliberate about how you behave during this unusual time. Staying positive will help both you and your relationships weather the storm of quarantine and the Coronavirus.
Here are ten ways to intentionally survive these unprecedented times.
- Limit your intake of news. Be careful with what fills your mind! You could watch 24-hour news channels, visit countless websites, listen to fear-inducing podcasts, and be bombarded with the angst of the moment. Instead, choose a single news source and decide how much limited time you’ll spend with it each day. Then stick to your plan.
- Be aware of triggers. Quarantine is a recipe for a mess of emotions. Cabin fever, worries and anxiety all lead to irritability and anger. These emotions impact our relationships with partners, children and co-workers, which suffer, during a time we need to rely on them most. The first step in preventing your anxiety from hurting your relationships is to notice and acknowledge it before it turns into anger. Once you notice yourself feeling edgy, temporarily distance yourself from the situation and share your feelings with a trusted friend.
- Move your body. Get some form of physical exercise every day. Any form of exercise balances your brain chemistry. Run, walk, dance, yoga—take your pick! Go outside for a hit of natural Vitamin D if you get the chance. This will decrease stress levels, improve your mood, and lift your overall outlook to the next day. Immunity is also boosted with outdoor exercise, by breathing in fresh air.
- Stock up on compassion. Everyone will have different levels of fear and grief, and it manifests in different ways. Showing extra levels of patience is good for your soul and for those around you. Don’t be hard on yourself…. if you need a break, take it.
- Look to the past. Get hope from your past resilience. You have likely endured other unforeseen major disruptions in your life. You made it through! And you are stronger because of them. Know that you will get through this. Remind yourself of your resilience on a regular basis. Talking with friends is a great way to reflect on past challenges, encourage and build each other up in the process.
- Take advantage of found time. These are stressful times, but they can also be liberating, if you choose to see it that way. If you are WFH, what can you do with the time you previously spent commuting? I have a friend who taught herself to knit, and she’s having a ball creating beauty. Another friend dug out her old guitar from college and has relearned a beloved hobby from the past. Pick up a favorite novel you haven’t had time to embrace in years. Many are using this extra time to get a jump start on Spring cleaning, which is cleansing in so many ways. Realize that this is a moment in history, and our children watch how we handle ourselves during times of adversity. Free time is unusual, and that’s what I’ve decided to focus on.
- Practice random acts of kindness. Think of those who could benefit from your thoughtfulness and generosity. Write an unsolicited book review for a friend who is an author, or post a Yelp review for your favorite neighborhood haunt. Comment on a colleague’s LinkedIn post, or send a note of encouragement to a friend. When you go to the market, thank the clerk for working. If you notice someone cleaning, let them know you appreciate their efforts to keep our surroundings safe for us all. You’ll be surprised at the joy you bring to yourself in the process.
- Let go of what you can’t control. What your neighbor is doing is out of your control. What is in your control is staying six feet away from them, practicing good hygiene, and taking good care of your family. Focusing on anything else is counterproductive to your own mental health and emotional well-being.
- Be intentional about good sleep habits. Improving sleep can make both sleep and anxiety better. Maintain a consistent bedtime, limit caffeine and alcohol intake, remove visible alarm clocks, and get exposure to daylight each day. Studies show that keeping your bedroom cool, dark and quiet, staying off screens, and intentionally practicing mindfulness before bedtime can all decrease anxiety and promote good sleep patterns.
- Find a bit of joy every day. It can be a simple as a bubble bath, a FaceTime call with friends, or making a favorite recipe you haven’t had time to do in years. Injecting some positive energy into each day will invigorate you to the next day. Acknowledge what you have accomplished, learned and are grateful for. This reflective behavior will help dilute some of the negativity you’ve absorbed, and will remind you that not everything that’s happening right now is bad or depressing.
There will be an end to this time of quarantine; there is light at the end of the tunnel. Give yourself and those around you grace and extra love right now. Your health is precious—protect it!
Focus on the future with hope and determination. Be deliberate in activities that are positive, stress-reducing and fun. With intention, we’ll get through this together.
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