We are certain that we are not alone in feeling as though we went to bed one night in early March 2020, and woke up to a different world. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, daily life is different, it’s really, really different. Work is different. Our social lives are different (more like they have come to a screeching halt). “Social Distancing” is now not only a term we all understand, but we hear it all day, every day. It is almost surreal, what we are currently living in, and more than a bit overwhelming. It’s a different world.
There’s so much fear and uncertainty in our lives right now, which makes it very hard to stay positive on a daily basis. People all around the world are experiencing these same feelings. Although we need to take this threat seriously, we also need to maintain some semblance of happiness and balance. So how can we still maintain calm, and find joy? Amid fear and uncertainty, how do we stay positive? How do we keep our anxiety at bay?
There is hope! Even in these times of anxiety and stress, there are quite a few things that we can each do in order to lift our spirits. Focus on the positives in life so that we may have the energy needed to weather this storm. Here are some ways to help you cope amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and navigate this different world.
1. Focus on the things that you can control
Times like this can make it difficult to control your feelings. When fear and depression set in, it makes you feel powerless. It also brings about feelings of doom and gloom and suddenly otherwise minor things turn into huge obstacles. But you are not powerless! You are in control of your own thoughts and so many other things. Try shifting your attention towards the good in your life and minimize what has been ‘taken’ from you.
Some of the things that are easily within your control include your daily routine, your eating habits and your clothing choices. Sticking to a daily routine can be very calming, especially when it feels like everything has changed. Work on trying to keep your bedtime and morning schedule in tact, even if you are working from home or not currently working. Eat at your ‘normal’ dining times. And this sounds super simple – but put on some pants!
Additionally, be very conscious of your internal self-talk and make sure that you keep it positive. Use your control to focus on the positive, and on controlling what you can – leave the rest behind.
2. Know that you are not alone!
Recognize that this pandemic has done a fantastic job of making us all feel very isolated. After all, we are being told daily to self-quarantine and stay in our homes! This fosters fear and it threatens our safety. Social distancing is painful for many of us. Just the little things – not being able to go to our favorite shops and restaurants is very isolating. Who is craving Mexican about now?! You are not alone! We are all in this together. Share your feelings with friends and loved ones. And when you are feeling stressed, go old school and pick up the phone and call a friend.
Bright side – we are very fortunate with the technology that we have access to these days. We are able to call, text, set up video calls, share funny videos, etc. One of the best things my friends and I did last week was set up a video conferencing call and we had a short happy hour together. We were only on the call for about an hour, and it was way less awkward than I thought it would be! It was a fantastic mood-lifter. Make sure that when you (virtually) get together with friends, you talk about things other than the virus. Make it a pact to only talk about things that lift each other’s spirits!
3. Limit your Media Intake
Everywhere you turn, everyone is talking about this virus. On the TV, radio, social media, emails (some from company’s I have no clue had my email address!). While it is important to keep yourself informed about the virus and it’s outbreak, you do not need to become an expert on the subject, or stay on top of every unpleasant detail from the time you wake up until you go to bed. There is a very fine line between staying informed and feeling overwhelmed! A great tip to combat information overload is to choose a single news source, just one, and then decide how much time you will spend with it each day. And stick to that!
Be cautious with social media. Social media is a great way to stay connected and up-to-date with friends and loved ones. However, it can be a serious source of anxiety. Limit your time on social media in order to improve your mood – hide websites that cause you worry, and just scroll on past anything that doesn’t bring you happiness.
Also beware of disaster reporting. In uncertain times, it is wise to steer clear of drastic accounts of disasters. The media really hones in on our fears and sensationalizes trivial things, heightening our anxiety. Reading too many of these accounts will only add to your stress and distress!
4. Perform random acts of kindness
I love this – because looking out for others can have the boomerang effect of making us feel good as well. Unexpected gifts or acts of kindness can have a huge impact on your friends and loved ones. It is not advised at this time to deliver fresh-baked goods, however, you could send a card or a small gift in the mail. These would be a great moral booster for anyone, including elderly living in nursing homes who are not able to physically get out or to have visitors.
Random acts of kindness do not necessarily require a monetary investment. It can be as simple as writing a positive review for your friends’ business (these are huge!!) or commenting on a social media post. Showing gratitude instantly brightens our mood. Some ideas to show gratitude include making a thank you poster for your local clinics or hospitals that are still open, using sidewalk chalk to write a positive message on your neighbor’s driveway, or, hang a cute drawing with words of affirmation on the neighborhood mailbox. Challenge yourself to think of someone could benefit from your thoughtfulness and do it!
Don’t overlook simple check-ins on your neighbors, family, or friends via phone or text and make sure that they are doing okay. This will make them happy and may also serve to remind you of your blessings and good fortune! Supporting others can give you a sense of purpose – and control over your situation.
5. Take advantage of the positives of the situation
This is stressful! We know this. It would be easy to give up and give in to our negativity. But what if all of these social cancellations gave us opportunities to focus on things in our lives that we have not had the time for? Now you have the time! Some ideas with this time might be to tidy up your space, convert that basement area to a craft room, start a gratitude journal. These things will help remind you that not everything that is happening right now is bad or depressing.
What else do you have time for now, that you have been putting off? Learning a new work out routine maybe? Spending time with a pet? You could hop online and learn a new skill, like an instrument or a craft. This would be a great time to explore meditation or mindfulness. Do you enjoy working outside? Go do it! This gift of time may also allow you to bless others in the form of donations – by going through your home and finding things that are still useful, but you are done with them.
Focus on all the small things in your life that make you happy. Relive some of your greatest achievements. Think about some meaningful praise that you once received. Ponder all of the wonderful things in your life that have happened up to this point. You have the time now to rejoice in some of these memories. And remind yourself that your track record of getting through tough stuff is 100%, so you will get through this too!
It feels as though the entire world is reeling right now under the weight of recent events. Although these 5 ideas are simple, they can have a huge impact. Hopefully, as terrible as this is, it will turn out to be an event that united all of us in our common hope for good health and prosperity. Keep moving forward – with a positive outlook and kindness. Together, we will all get through this!