So far the year 2020 has brought with it a whirlwind of events. The past couple of weeks have been especially challenging. So much of our normal daily life has been disrupted and turned upside down, affecting pretty much everyone. It’s completely understandable that for many it’s a struggle to adjust to the “new normal” of a long list of things we can’t do that we used to take for granted. The good news is, it’s a temporary break from our everyday routine, things will go back to normal eventually. It’s for a good purpose, too – to stop the spread of a virus that can endanger lives of the most vulnerable in our society.
Perspective matters. Yes, it’s absolutely ok to feel worried, anxious and frustrated, but letting fear and negative feelings take control may not be that helpful. Considering current events, we need to keep our health and immune systems as strong as possible. That means taking care of our mental health and emotions, too.
Instead of being upset about things we can’t do right now, let’s focus on what we CAN do in order to shift out of the negativity mode and use that energy in a positive, productive way:
We CAN focus on our families and relationships. Many of us now have a great opportunity to spend more time with people who are dear to us. Have family dinners together. Go for a walk in the park with your spouse. Play fun board games with your children. Do a family movie night, or a romantic comedy night with your significant other when kids fall asleep. The possibilities are endless! You can create new memories that will last a lifetime, as well as strengthen and nourish your relationships.
We CAN practice care and compassion. The current situation will hit the elderly and vulnerable people especially hard. If you can, check up on your lonely neighbor, your grandmother or elderly uncle. Bring them groceries, pick up a prescription, just talk to them on the phone if you can’t visit. It can make a big difference to someone isolated alone at home to know that other people care about them.
We CAN pray, read the Scriptures, express and practice our spiritual beliefs in a fulfilling way. Even if you can’t attend your congregation, you can still watch online services, have virtual worship with others via Internet. Remembering that our God is in control can significantly decrease stress and help find meaning and purpose in the current situation.
We CAN practice self-care. It is even more important now to listen to your body and devote time and effort to taking care of your needs. Get good amount of sleep, eat nourishing food, take vitamins and use this downtime to slow down, exhale and relax. That also means turning off the news on TV and social media – 24 hour coverage of the world events will not help lower your stress levels!
We CAN connect with nature. We may not be able to spend time with other people as much as we’d like, but we can still get outside and enjoy nature. Go to the park. Appreciate first spring flowers blooming. Walk barefoot on the beach. Take a hike in the woods. Just sit on your porch and feel the spring breeze or the warm rays of the sun on your face. You will see how much that can recharge your internal batteries.
We CAN be productive. Instead of feeling frustrated about being confined at home, get yourself busy! Do house projects that you’ve been postponing due to lack of time – declutter closets, do spring cleaning, organize bookshelves – all of us have a list of projects that we’ve been too busy to get to. Now may be the perfect time to do it. And by the way, clutter free environment results in significantly lower anxiety levels, too.
We CAN be prepared. Plan ahead - check your pantry and medicine cabinets for anything that you need. Restock what’s missing. Refill your prescriptions and any medications. Stock up on vitamins or other remedies you may need to use. Organize your medical records. Know your medical history and any health issues that may be important to know in time of emergency.
We CAN change our perspective. Take it one day at a time. At this point none of us know what the future might bring. Let’s choose to tackle problems as they arise, needless worrying won’t do anything except rattle our worn out nerves even more. Focus on what you can control today. Change what you can change today. Be hopeful for tomorrow’s events instead of worrying about every possible bad scenario out there. Our thoughts can really influence our reality and well-being.
We CAN be grateful and appreciate what we have. Savor your child's smile and enjoy that sweet hug. Say "thank you" to your spouse for making your breakfast or taking care of a particularly unappealing chore. Say warm words of appreciation to your parents when they call you to find out how you're doing. Cherish the good in your life and don't take things for granted. Gratitude is a powerful healer that can transform lives.
I hope this list makes you feel more empowered and positive. Stay healthy and safe!