A recent Facebook comic referred to this time as a CORONACOASTER because of the ups and downs we’re experiencing as the pandemic lingers. One day, we’re thrilled to be working at home, baking bread, and learning to knit and the next weepy from eating carry-out food and missing people we don’t even like.
Here are a few tips to stay afloat that I like to use:
- Stick to a daily routine. Honor your body by sleeping, exercising, and eating on a regular basis. This will minimize the stress on you emotionally and physically. Having a routine provides structure and a sense of stability while the world around you tosses and turns.
- Find your spiritual grounding and hold on. Anchor your thoughts in faith, chat with a wise elder, read about the mystics, understand the or follow your personal hero on social media. Anything that is uplifting and inspirational will keep you from falling into despair. Don’t fret if it takes several approaches to stay calm – we’re in deep.
- Recognize your gifts and share them with the world. We’ve all heard, “we’re all in this together.” That means it’s our cue to give what we can when we can. If you bake, make a cake for your neighbor. If you garden, offer to mow someone’s lawn. Walk someone’s dog. Repair a broken printer. Small acts of kindness count.
- Be a good listener. A wonderful gift to give someone is to simply listen. Everyone has experienced loss, fear, and disappointment in some form. There’s no need to compare woes or one-up another person’s laments. A good friend and I play “tag – you’re it” when on the phone to signal it’s the other person’s turn to be just be quiet and listen with no judgment. Then we switch.
- Allow yourself to grieve. Someday you will tell engaging stories about living through a pandemic and the adjustments in your life, but right now, it’s a boatload of uncertainty. Don’t force your unpleasant feelings down as if you’re trying to hold a beach ball under water. It’s too hard. If you feel it, it’s real. On the other hand, develop a “first aid toolkit” of positive actions you can take or people to call when sadness and grief become the norm.
- Pamper yourself. Our homes have taken the place of spas, offices, barber shops, classrooms, salons, nurseries, delis, and summer camp. It’s time to get creative. Bring some of the pleasures you’d enjoy elsewhere into your home. Change the sheets more often, light an aromatherapy candle, create a new playlist, wear exotic jewelry for no reason. It’s time to be your own BFF and reframe your living situation to one that makes you feel alive.
- Remain connected to others any way you can. It’s likely you’ve maxed out on ZOOM happy hours and online learning courses. Shift to ways you can connect one-on-one with someone who is less likely to be part of your immediately circle: a member at church, a housebound elderly relative, an old classmate from college, your deceased mother’s best friend. Nothing feels more personal than a handwritten note arriving in the mail.
- Keep a journal. With all the online tools available, there’s no reason to let emotions and frustrations remain bottled up inside; it only leads to more of the same. Keep a bedside journal and write down five things you’re grateful for before you end the day. I especially like the app GRATEFUL, which is an easy-to-use app that has various prompts focused on recognizing the blessings of the day. Plus, I can add my pictures and an affirmation.