In times of crisis, when everyone is anxious and uncertain about the future, it’s understandably hard for people to stay on track. In those moments, we must work to keep focused and productive while coping with ambiguity and uncertainty.
Recent events surrounding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic have sent the world into a state of caution, fear, and even panic. There is no denying that the uncertainty of this situation is both challenging and stressful. Everybody reacts differently to stressful situations, whether a global health emergency or a smaller-scale personal crisis.
While we all wish we could help stop the spread of the disease and comfort everyone we see, there is only so much within our control.
Here are some steps we can take right now to help take care of yourself and those around you.
It’s easy to succumb to statements such as, “What is the world coming to?” or “It’s someone’s fault- this could have been avoided,” or “I’ve lost faith in humanity,” and more. Instead, make a point to observe and even write down one good thing that happened today. Did someone go out of their way to be kind to you? Journaling and taking note of it all is an excellent way to reflect on the goodness we have.
Appreciate life’s simple pleasures.
The best things in life are free. With the warmer weather and some sunny days ahead of us, getting outside is a healthy choice. Take time to appreciate the solitude around you. Notice the tulips that are beginning to emerge. Soak in the warmth of the sun beating down your back, take walks in nature. Nature is the best and free medicine for us plus there is so much wonder to see.
Take a break.
Turn off the noise—turn off the news—and don’t feel guilty about it. While we want to stay informed, there is also lots of misinformation out there. Social media can cause unnecessary—and avoidable—anxiety. If your life starts to feel like a record on replay, give yourself permission to switch gears and focus on something completely different. Please make time to relax and switch off from the world around us. People relax in different ways. It could be reading a book, having a cuddle with your pet, doing some coloring in, or some meditation or relaxation exercises.
Connect with others.
It’s good to remember that people often come together to support and help each other during hard times. It is also essential to stay connected, whether it’s picking up the phone, having a dinner date by video, having a morning group call with your friends, or sending voice notes; There are lots of ways to communicate, keep in touch, and not feel alone. We can be mindful of managing the Internet and social media. It’s more than possible to practice social distancing and still maintain relationships with friends and family.
Meet people where they are, not where you want them to be. It’s essential to stay in close contact with your people. Talk to them and, especially, listen to them. Work to understand what they think and feel genuine and respond to their questions and worries. Real listening forms a bond of trust that motivates people and helps in resolving their concerns.
Prioritize your mental and emotional health.
During the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, with uncertainty and constant news updates part of our daily lives, it is more important than ever to try and talk about how we are feeling. Problems and worries can be hard to get to grips with when they’re just going around inside of our heads. You may feel all kinds of emotions—you may be struggling significantly. That’s okay. If you’re unsure or worried about anything, remember it’s okay to ask for help and talk to a parent, friend, teacher, or another person you trust. Talking about how you feel can be difficult, but it is necessary and good for your mental health.
When fitness centers everywhere are closed, don’t give up on your exercise routine. Create a new one! YouTube is an excellent source for free workout videos. All you need is some comfortable clothing and maybe a yoga mat. A brisk walk or jog outside is always a good idea, but remember to follow social distancing guidelines.
Make the best of it and have fun.
Being happy and having fun in a time of crisis might not feel right, but it’s vital that we still have a laugh and do fun activities. You could play a fun game with your friends online, watch a comedy, or dance around the living room to your favorite song. If you’re staying at home, get creative. Board games, puzzles, and scrapbooking never go out of style. Let out your feelings in a poem if writing is your outlet. Unleash your inner chef and see what recipes you can come up with using canned beans and dried goods. Music is a mood booster, so pump some tunes and dance. The possibilities are endless.
Lend an ear and be kind.
We’re all going through this together. Try to take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone and use that comfort to be there for someone else. Ask how their day was or if there’s anything they need or wish to talk about. If you have friends on the “frontlines,” such as healthcare workers, reporters, or public officials, thank them. A little bit of gratitude can go a long way.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Gandhi had a point. While we can and should exercise an overabundance of caution, take the time to remind yourself that you have the privilege of setting a positive example. What do we want to teach our children? Appreciation and generosity, or paranoia and greed? Of course, there is a line, but please be mindful.
Now is the time to harness the power of stories—pull out the children’s books—especially the ones that convey an important message. Some of my personal favorites are The Giving Treeby Shel Silverstein and I Will Love You Forever by Caroline Church. (Note: tissues are a must.)
10. Stay Grounded.
Staying grounded and staying in the present moment with deep breathing and exercise routines can also help ground you. If you’re interested in meditation, there are many free or low-cost resources available for download. To stay grounded, take care of your body and mind. Exercise, eat clean, get plenty of sleep, minimize or eliminate drugs and alcohol. The healthier you are physical, the stronger you will be mentally and emotionally.
Taking time to take care of yourself and doing the things that bring you enjoyment is what is needed to cope during uncertainty. We each must do our part when it comes to our happiness during unfamiliar times. Have faith and trust that we do not always know what is going on in the big picture of life.