5 Ways to Keep Busy and Stop Worry
This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our 'world' would be confined to our homes!
This crisis is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is - and how much we need human connection!
Remember you are not alone. Because what is DIFFERENT here is that everyone is impacted! Your neighbor, mom, dad, boss and friends as well as countless others around the world are all going through something similar.
So, it's important to remember:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
Viktor E. Frankl
This is the challenge each of us must rise to! If we're going to be stuck at home, we may as well make the most of it.
Here Are 5 Things You Can do to Make Your Life Better while Physical Distancing:
1) Create a Healthy, Supportive Routine
When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do at the moment), one EXTREMELY easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.
While we're all stuck in anxiously waiting at home, it's easy to lose our sense of time. Days can begin to blend into each other. A routine can give us an anchor and greater sense of control over our lives. And if you have children, creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normality.
This routine or schedule can be as simple as:
7am - Wake-up
8am - Breakfast (Be mindful and make healthy food choices)
10am - Exercise/Meditate
11am - Talk to friends (virtual coffee date)
12.00pm - Lunch or Snack
1-4pm - Learn something new or work on a home project
5pm - Make & Eat Dinner (Be mindful and make healthy food choices)
7pm - Talk to close family (maybe FaceTime or Zoom)
8pm - Read, Write in your Journal, or listen to soothing music
10pm - Bed
Be sure to include food preparation, social time, exercise and some learning or creativity so you get some benefit from this challenging time.
It's also important to recognize weekends because it's too easy for days to all blur together. So, make a more flexible schedule for your weekends. For example, you could include:
Sleeping in/later bedtime
Movie night with popcorn
A virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues
A larger project, do some arts & crafts, gardening or home improvements.
So, create a routine for a sense of control and mastery over your environment and life circumstances. Reclaim what power you can over your own life, because with all this uncertainty it's important for you - and especially important for children - to have predictability.
2) Be in the moment:
In THIS moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.
This tip is about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practicing BEING.
This is a PRACTICE - meaning you will have to do it over and over again - bringing yourself back to the NOW. Over time it gets easier, and it's a great skill to have to take back to "normal" life.
So when you notice that you're worrying, feeling anxious and want to pick up your device and find out what the "latest" news is about the COVID situation, say to yourself, "It's OK. In this moment, I am safe. In this moment I am OK." You can also add or say, "In this moment, my children/husband/family are safe."
EXTRA TIP: Reduce or minimize how often you watch and read the news! And DON'T read articles or watch the news (about COVID-19 or similar) just before bed!
Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!
Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream - Endorphins (our natural "happy" drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily "reward" system).
What are your favorite comedy shows?
Is there a comedian you like?
Netflix and Hulu have so many watching options, so find something that makes you laugh!
IMPORTANT: We should NOT over-use laughter as a distraction technique. And it shouldn't be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where there isn't much that any of us can do other than sit and wait - distraction can be a great coping mechanism.
4) Be Kind!
Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are housebound, never mind the fear that you or a loved one might actually catch the COVID virus! So, of course we're going to feel uneasy and weird.
Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be gentle. Imagine you're soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid - what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself!
Use kindness to give yourself - and others - the benefit of the doubt. Instead of getting upset when you see other people behaving badly, remember that we all do silly things when we're scared.
Remind yourself of that kind, wise self, that is intelligent and unconditionally loves ALL of you. Now, when you need it most allow that kind, wise self to be with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug - and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the nice sweet stuff, but also tough love and common sense).
5) Get Outdoors (weather permitting)
Spring is in the air! Flowers are blooming, trees are budding, warmer temps are coming!
Take walks daily, walk at a faster pace to get the blood flowing and the heart pumping.
Go explore a nature trail, listen to the sounds and enjoy the sights of the spring season.
Sit in the warm sunshine and breathe in the fresh air, it does wonders for the soul.
Take the family to a state park or recreation area.
Find a baseball diamond and hit some balls or play catch.
Find a bench and sit near a river, pond or a stream for awhile and just listen and breathe.
So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The area I am focusing on is trying to keep a better schedule, I seem to be struggling with getting up earlier. I find myself sleeping in because I don’t HAVE to be anywhere. Does this sound familiar?
I’m also working on being present so that I don’t create a ton of stress and anxiety worrying about how and when this will all end!
Believe you have the skills and the power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what - you'll find a way.
This COVID-19 situation will end, and when it does, you'll be proud you made the effort to learn something new- whether it's about yourself, about your family, or some new skill - and who knows it might just change your life for the better!