Does waking up every morning in a global pandemic feel surreal?? We’re living in the strange new reality of COVID-19…. and these are unprecedented times.
Are you worried? Anxious? Overwhelmed?
Fear is a completely NORMAL response to a pandemic, and precautions are most definitely needed – social distancing is critical, increased hygiene practices essential, etc – but the truth is, succumbing to fear and panic is NOT helpful.
Ironically: if you get caught up in a negative thinking loop, this heightened state of stress can impact your strength and immunity, putting you more at risk. It’s a kind of EMOTIONAL contagion.
So, how can you stay POSITIVE and remain CALM during a world-wide health crisis? I have some ideas.
BUT FIRST, why is staying positive important? Does thinking positive mean ignoring the problem or pushing reality aside?? No.
It’s so easy to fall into the HABIT of thinking negatively when you’re in trouble. But flexing your ‘think positive’ muscle is about grounding yourself, so that you can face challenges from a place of mental CLARITY and emotional STABILITY.
In short: thinking positive will help you make better decisions, which is good for you, and good for the world.
So, here’s a list of six daily habits to help you navigate this strange new world. These are simple things you can do every day for your mental health, your wellbeing and stress relief in light of the COVID-19 outbreak that’s disrupting our lives.
Habit 1: Remember All The Good
Our first strategy to boost positive thinking is: for the next 10 minutes, flood yourself with JOYFUL MEMORIES.
ACTUALLY SET YOUR TIMER and commit. You’re going to feel so good from all the endorphins afterwards. You might have done a “gratitude exercise” before, but this is more imaginative.
Grab a journal or just use your imagination to visualize your most cherished moments in life.
Now, how can you harness the feeling of being centered and optimistic, and direct it towards the challenges you are facing in your life right now?
Habit 2: Let Go of Plans, Be Flexible
Our next strategy to boost positive thinking is to ALLOW yourself to DREAM about your future.
Though it sounds frivolous, this exercise is important because it helps us practice letting go of rigid plans and staying flexible. By dreaming up new ideas, we can visualize different possibilities without reality’s usual constraints and consequences.
In a crisis situation such as the coronavirus pandemic, we are faced with constant change and uncertainty. If we practice being mentally flexible, openminded and adaptable, it becomes easier to do this in real life when we are faced with changing circumstances.
So, this exercise isn’t about planning, its about being open and saying YES to whatever exciting ideas come up.
Start by saying “wouldn’t it be awesome if ____.”
Don’t worry about realism, don’t let logistics, credentials or finances get in the way. The goal of this exercise is to TEACH YOUR MIND TO DREAM BIG.
A time of great uncertainty and change is also a great time to re-write the rule book for what’s possible in your life.
Habit 3: Practice Self-Compassion
Our next strategy is to practice self-compassion. My guess is, you don’t give yourself enough credit for how awesome you are. You are amazing, accepted, and LOVED by life itself.
This is a great time to really embrace that truth and give yourself the gift of self-compassion.
Here’s a great exercise to bring it home:
Touch your heart with you hand, bow your head, close your eyes.
Imagine that you are speaking to the inner child that lives within your heart…. Whisper these words to yourself as a loving prayer, and a gift to yourself:
I know that you’re tired and overwhelmed.
I know that you have fear.
It’s ok to feel that way.
I love you.
I really, truly, deeply love you.
I will take care of you when things are rough.
I promise, I will never stop loving you.
You are loveable, just the way you are.
I LOVE this exercise because it’s a reminder to SPEAK KINDLY TO YOURSELF. I find that this practice gives me more strength, self-compassion, and the confidence to meet challenges that come up.
How would it impact your wellbeing if you could give yourself this gift of self-compassion every day?
Habit 4: Stay Social
Our next strategy addresses loneliness, as more of us enter self-isolation and take increasingly difficult social distancing measures.
Social distancing can be scary, boring, and disruptive to your life.
Plus, if it’s working to stop the spread of the virus, then it seems like nothing is happening… because there’s no spread to report!
Studies show that if people practice social distancing too long, they eventually get annoyed and quit, which sabotages all our efforts to contain the virus. That’s why it’s import to remain positive and find ways to THRIVE despite the challenges.
Here are a few ways you can connect socially, at a distance.
1. Schedule a daily phone call. Stay in touch with a different friend or family member every day by phone or video chat, just to check in. Share positive thoughts, strategies for success, and boost one another’s morale.
2. Host a virtual party. Set up a video call with a group of your favorite people and host a party or performance! Have a dance competition, get grandma to play her violin, have the kids perform their favorite musical – nothing’s off the table.
3. Connect through spirituality. Organize online prayer or church groups, host spiritual book clubs, virtual group meditation – do things that help you connect to your spiritual beliefs and ground yourself while building community.
4. Revive relationships at home. Spend time reconnecting with the people you are living with. If you are in a lockdown situation, use this time to improve your existing relationships. Play board games, do puzzles together, have a nostalgic movie marathon – whatever boosts your spirits and connects you to each other.
5. Support Your neighbors. Think about how you can help others without putting your health (or theirs) at risk. Can you speak to your neighbours from over a fence or across balconies? Ask them if you can help them gather supplies, run errands, or just support them with your friendship and conversation.
Humans are social creatures and loneliness is proven to be detrimental to our health and immunity. Make sure you take your mental and emotional health as seriously as your physical health.
Habit 5: Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
This habit is about boosting our mental health by caring for our physical health.
We all know that exercise is good for our bodies, but the impact of physical exercise on mental health cannot be underestimated.
Exercise is scientifically proven to improve mood and wellbeing by the ‘happy hormones’ it releases. This helps us battle things like depression, anxiety, prolonged stress and insomnia that can come up in times of crisis. It can also boost our immunity.
So, here are a few ideas for safe exercise, even if you are in self-isolation:
1. Go for a walk or hike. It sounds so simple, but this is truly the most accessible form of exercise. Being in nature grounds us in a way that nothing else can.
2. Take on an outdoor project. Does your fence need painting? Backyard junk need to be removed? Would you like a raised garden bed? Now is a great time to get around to those projects you’ve been putting off, and get moving at the same time.
3. Take an online fitness class. Always wanted to try yoga, Tai Chi or Zumba? Virtual golf? There are tons of free videos available online for whatever activity you enjoy or are curious about. Be experimental and find something you truly love to ensure you stay motivated.
Staying active and keeping a normal fitness routine is a great way to help boost your mental health, and give you back a sense of normalcy in these ever-changing times.
Habit 6: Learn Something New
Is there a skill, hobby or self-improvement project you’ve wanted to take on but haven’t had the time?
Now is your chance. Search something new that you’ve always wanted to learn on Youtube or through an online course. Maybe you want to make pasta from scratch? Learn how to knit? Speak another language?
The sky’s the limit!
You never know what you might find out about yourself when you broaden your horizons and start exploring new worlds.
Added bonus: You might find new friends who share your newfound interests.
The world can get overwhelming at the best of times, let alone in times of crisis. That’s why it’s SO important to practice lots of self-care right now and be mindful of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
What action are you planning to take to stay calm and positive? Add your tips to the comments below to help your community stay strong and healthy!
<3 I’m here for you. I see you. I love you! <3
We are in this TOGETHER,