This is a very stressful and scary time for all of us, young and old, rich and poor, and all we can do right now is control how we react to what’s happening in the world and do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
As with any misfortunes and difficult times, we don’t have the ability to change what is happening, but we do have the ability to change what we do, who we help, how we act and how we spend our time.
I personally find the news so hard to watch, it’s almost like information overload, and so I have to turn it off during the day. I get upset when friends send me alarming articles. I cringe when I see the spiky COVID-19 cell structure in any medium.
All anyone wants is for life to return to normal, and hopefully that will happen soon, but we have to be prepared for all of the difficulties that lie ahead. The economy is in a decline and it will continue to be tough for all of us – my biggest client put me on hold for the time being and cut their employees’ salaries, so I am also stressed and anxious about paying my bills. I know I’m not alone.
I am certainly not a mental health expert but I can tell you what’s working for me in terms of keeping positive and not letting my anxiety get the better of me in this unprecedented time.
- I’m reading books on resiliency and on how to control stress and anxiety, and listening to podcasts. I can always find a few useful tools in them that help me cope.
- I’m sleeping more. This is doing wonders for every part of my life. Since there’s nowhere to go at night, there’s no reason to not go to bed early. Sleep helps you recharge. When I find myself waking up in the middle of the night with anxiety, I think of something positive in my life – the birth of my niece, when I met my significant other, and it helps soothe me back to bed.
- I’m eating well and taking supplements. That means lots of leafy greens, various colored vegetables and fruit, protein, healthy fats and fiber. But also give yourself permission to have dessert if you want it. Of course I’m still indulging too as you’ll see below.
- I am following Instagram accounts with positive messages, funny memes and cute animals – all of those help bring levity into my life, counterbalancing the doom and gloom.
- I’m focusing on thinking of all of the good things in my life instead of the grim statistics on the news 24/7. I’m keeping a gratitude journal to help with this.
- I’m reaching out to family and friends via Zoom and FaceTime. We do coffee breaks and virtual happy hours. I haven’t closer to those I love than right now.
- I’m spending a lot of time with my dog who is on the older side, and I cherish this time home with him.
- I’m leaning into my creative side. If you’ve ever wished you had the time or opportunity to pursue a creative endeavor—author a book, write music or a play, learn to paint, whatever—this is the time to do it.
- I’m saying prayers for all of those who are risking their lives to help and protect the sick and all of those who are making many sacrifices for us during this time.
- I’m sticking to a regular work routine during the week – waking up at the same time each day, working out, maintaining my usual schedule during the day and then shutting off my email to make dinner and unwind at night.
- Speaking of dinner, I’m learning to cook more at home. I find cooking and baking to be therapeutic and helps pass the time. Try a new recipe you’ve always wanted to make, spice up your tried and true menu items and follow Ina Garten on Instagram (my idol) for easy meal ideas.
- I’m focusing on the positive – thinking of one good thing that happened to me each day – try this – I bet you can come up with many more than just one thing.
- I’m putting things into perspective. I was in a depression for many months after my live-in boyfriend left me for one of our friends. Every aspect of my life fell apart as a result, and I had to rebuild from scratch. I did it, and I now see that experience put me in a better place to deal with hardship.
- I’m assuming good intent with others and showing kindness as much as I can – let’s all give each other the benefit of the doubt right now. Don’t take anything personally.
- I’m taking care of myself – whether it’s taking a bath, watching hours of mindless TV (Tiger King it Summer House anyone?) or doing a face mask (I recently had to quickly take one off when I got a work FaceTime call – not easy!) – I’m doing things that make me feel good.
- I’m showing gratitude to others, thanking those in my life who have been there for me and letting them know what they mean to me. Try this – it feels good for you and them.
- I’m doing something to help – supporting my local restaurants, contributing to various funds to help those struggling and those who have been laid off, donating supplies and blood – doing something makes me feel less paralyzed.
- I’m exercising – it’s so important to do whatever you can to stay active – it’s good for you mentally and physically. Working out releases feel good hormones – we need as much of those as we can get right now. My regular gym, Flywheel, has closed down for now and laid off 98 percent of its employees, which breaks my heart, and I’m supporting the unemployed instructors by paying to take their online classes.
- I’m cleaning out clutter and organizing everything. There is something so therapeutic about cleaning out your closet and drawers – and it’s something over which you have control. I organized every drawer and closet in my home over the past week – then I reorganized them again (okay so maybe I’m a little OCD too). I donated lots of things, which always feels great. Less is more when it comes to material possessions. Marie Kondo would be proud.
- I’m learning how to slow down and meditate. This article from Oprah magazine is very helpful in providing a list of the best meditation apps for people with anxiety.
- I’m helping those who need it – I’m getting essentials for the elderly people in my building, sharing things I have with those who could use them more than me, I made food for my doormen and always thank them for their service and I have been donating dog supplies to animal shelters and the ASPCA – doing something makes me feel better and less anxious.
- I’m writing – a lot. Case in point, this article and all of the other articles I have published lately. Writing is my outlet to express how I feel. It was so helpful to me as a grief tool when my mom died a few years ago and when my significant other left me for one of our friends.
- I’m shifting my mindset. It’s so easy to become negative during this time cooped up at home. Change the dialogue in your head and think of it as a time to create the life you’ve always wanted personally and professionally. Set the plans in place now for your future. You’ve got plenty of extra time to think!
Please do remember that this to shall pass, and everything will be okay. For now do your part in maintaining social distancing from others, washing your hands and staying inside as much as possible.