These are strange times to be living in. From every corner of the earth, we are collectively feeling the impact of COVID- 19, and feeling the uncertainty that comes with living through an actual pandemic. Whether you are busting your ass in the healthcare field, managing fearful children as a teacher, dealing with the hoarders at a supermarket, or not able to work at all anymore due to closures, we are all feeling this in our own way.
We are living in an uncertain time. We simply don’t know how exactly this is going to go on for. Last week I was wondering if more things would close, would we be housebound, and if so, for how long? Would I be able to see my grandparents or my sister without putting them or myself at risk? Things are changing so rapidly, I’ve had to edit this post multiple times before posting it because things kept changing! But amongst all of this maddness, there is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow and learn and harness the part of yourself that is an optimist, because without that, I fear it will be a very long and miserable few months.
This is a time where I am feeling extra grateful to be an optimist, because if I wasn’t, I think I’d be panic buying and tapping into the selfishness of the ego out of pure fear like may others. But how do we be optimistic when everything is basically going to shit?
First, you decide what is going to nurture you and what is going to hinder you. For example, looking at a list of 2020 goals and plans that included a holiday with your family, a new gym schedule and/or an upcoming fun activity with your friends- that was useful a month or so ago. Now, its not. It’s something that’s going to remind you of the things you have lost in 2020, and it’s okay that they are lost for now, but you don’t need that extra reminder. Pop the things that hallmark the uncertainty of this rapid change in life in a drawer or a box, and set them aside. They aren’t needed right now, and that’s okay.
Secondly, try not to look too far ahead. We don’t know how long this is going to go for, and therefore have no idea when finances will stabilise, when you’ll get to go on that trip, and when you can have brunch with your besties again. Those go in the box of things that we cannot control. There are probably many things that will go in that box, as every facet of life is being touched by this shift in society. But that’s okay.
Instead, let’s focus on the things we can control. Humans are innately control freaks, and for many people, having our sense of control taken away feels like you’ve been kicked in the anxiety guts. Something that most people will be able to control is your schedule. Now, your schedule may look very different to how it used to. It may include much more or much less hours of work, or no work at all. Regardless of that, your new schedule is going to be one filled with low-cost or cost-free activities seeing as we can’t go out and do much at the moment, and all of these activites should fall into the category of either being soothing, fun, productive or enriching. Here are some things you could include in your new schedule to ensure that you don’t accidentally become a 24/7 couch potato:
- Learning a new language. Download Duolingo or another language learning app and get started on learning a new skill!
- Workout with the guide of Youtube- there are so many workout videos online, or apps you can use to tide you over until the gym re-opens
- Take a long bath, do a face mask and generally pamper yourself
- Do a puzzle. If your knee jerk reaction is that a puzzle sounds lame, I thought that too, but now here I am, puzzling it up on weeknights with my partner. It’s surprisingly soothing and challenging, and is excellent to keep your mind occupied an your eyes OFF of the news apps on your phone
- Order some seeds online, or if you already have some, get started on a little home veggie patch. We just planted rows of broccoli and cauliflower for our winter harvest, and nurturing a garden can be an incredibly soothing activity
- Set Facetime dates with your friends!
- Learn to cook a new meal or bake a new treat. Set a goal for making one new dish a week and expand your culinary skills
- Write letters to your friends who live far away and send them in the post
- Learn a dance from Youtube for fun (and for fitness!)
- Find some free or cheap online courses (eg. Verve’s Money & Mindset 101 course, or various low cost courses on Udemy)
- Finally learn to meditate
Treat yourself like you’re in high school again. One hour for each class with some breaks peppered in between (if you enjoy this kind of structured approach). Create yourself a structure for each day, and if you need a veggie day of couch and TV, then that’s okay too! Just mix it up, because doing too much of the same thing is likely to drive you insane, or make you feel even more helpless than before (or give you a sore back from all the laying down).
However you are feeling right now is okay. Be sure to release your emotions, and reach out for help.
Ideas to be sure your emotions don’t bubble up and destroy you include:
- Have a good cry
- Facetime your friends and have a glass of wine and talk about anything thats on your mind
- Write down how you are feeling. These are strange times, and not only can it be soothing to scribble down how you are feeling about it all, but it could also be interesting to look back on one day
- Self care, self care, self care!
Life is wild, so please be sure that you are taking care of yourself and of others. Stay home, check on your loved ones via the phone when you can, and assist people who are vulnerable with shopping drops and emotional support if you can. We will only get through this together, and by choosing love.