For the past few weeks, or longer in many parts of the world, we have all been forced to redefine our “normal” lives and are desperately trying to establish some kind of footing in an uncertain and ever-changing world. As we all continue to let go of our expectations of normalcy, there are a few things that have remained constant that are now more important than ever to hone in on: First, we have a choice about how we respond to the present moment. Secondly, the importance of prioritizing self-care so that you can care for others has become even more urgent and essential. And lastly, but probably most importantly, love, gratitude and compassion can help us overcome the difficult mental symptoms we are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We may not be in control of what’s happening in the world, but we can be in control of how we respond.
It’s strange that during a time when we’re forced to slow down it seems like our minds are racing a marathon. Floods of new information are coming into our consciousness almost hourly and it can send you into a tailspin if you aren’t intentional about what you choose to bring in, what you choose to leave out, and how you manage difficult information and emotions.
Here are a few tips on how to prioritize self-care during the pandemic:
- This is so hard, but so important because it’s something you have control of. When this storm hit a few weeks ago, my schedule went out the window; I didn’t know what day it was, I’d wake up and go to bed at random times and my whole routine was totally out of control… and I already work from home so I can’t imagine how disorienting it must have been for people who have a physical office! However, although, you may not be able to physically go into the office, you can mimic your routine and lean on your habits to fuel yourself. What’s your daily routine on a normal workday? Do you always get up, shower, make coffee and breakfast and then start your day? Then keep that routine even if you’re not “going in” to work. Because you’ve already wired your brain to associate those things in that order with going to work, you’ll feel ready to work when it comes time. However, if it doesn’t happen and you’re not as productive as usual, be gentle and compassionate with yourself. There’s a lot of crap going on and you don’t need to be productive all the time.
- In our experience, there aren’t many things more effective at weathering storms than a disciplined, consistent breathing meditation practice… and the good news is, you can join ours every weekday if you don’t already have a daily practice! Contact us for more details or visit our Resources page for podcasts and guided meditations.
- Staying connected in a time of drastic disconnection is crucial. Schedule consistent times to check in on the people you love and people who you think might need it, whether it be via phone, video conference, FaceTime etc.
- If you’re fortunate enough to live somewhere with outdoor spaces you can escape to, by all means do it. There aren’t many things more healing than being in nature where you can experience the warmth of the sun and the interconnectivity of everything living.
- During a time of crisis, it is completely normal and expected to experience waves of emotions; some days you may feel like you’re a pro surfer and some days you may feel like you’re drowning. This is normal and you shouldn’t shy away from feeling. Instead, practice taking a few deep, slow breaths when you go into overwhelm, breathing right into where you feel that emotion in your body. Try inhaling for 3 counts and exhaling for 6 counts, repeating until you feel more relaxed and feel like you’ve come out of the storm. Remember, just like storms, all emotions pass and there is always a blue sky on the other side.
- When we’re suddenly stripped of so many things in our normal life, it’s easy to only see the negative and feel like we have nothing. However, it can also be a wonderful opportunity to appreciate the things that we do have and see things that we might have taken for granted in a new light. What are you grateful for today? Being able to go for a walk? Talking to your mom on the phone? The spring flowers blooming? The sun? Being able to see your friend’s faces because of technology? Dedicate a few intentional minutes to noticing and saying out loud what you are thankful for every day.
- For me, I’ve noticed that when I wake up and get lost reading article after article about COVID-19 or tuning into the morning news segment, my day is shot. After that, I have a hard time focusing on the things that could make me feel good in the present moment and instead I find myself feeling anxious, helpless, bogged down with sadness for the people who have been really effected by the virus, or angry at the people who aren’t taking it seriously. Thus, I limit myself to scrolling left on my iPhone in the morning to read the headlines and if it’s nothing new about the situation and from a source I trust, I don’t click on it and carry on with my regular morning routine.
- Think of 5 (or more!) things you like to do at home or outside that help you to relax so that when you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything, you can do one of those things. For me, those things are: Taking a bubble bath, going outside, breathing meditation, yoga, organizing/cleaning my house, and singing.
- When you’re faced with dozens of movies on Netflix, it’s easy to want to just eat chips all day and neglect any sort of nutritional normalcy you had before. However, during these times of extreme stress, making sure you’re nourishing your body with good nutrients is essential to feeling centered. Make some healthy, comforting soups- I know that always makes me feel better!
- Again, when faced with the Netflix vortex, you can lose track of time and not prioritize moving your body. Go for a walk, do some yoga, tai chi, etc. to get some endorphins flowing.
- Pretty self explanatory and a constant that remains extremely important to well being.
- Extending compassion to yourself and others in the form of a meditation can be a powerful practice to feel connected with the rest of the world.
- Building meaning into your life during this time of seeming meaningless is essential for happiness. How can you create, cultivate or invite beauty into your days?
Undoubtedly, there will be days that are more difficult than others. However, by reminding yourself of this list, you can find a sense of comfort knowing that you are in control of how you respond in every moment, and that in times of crisis, we all have the choice to bring good things in and give good things out.