To say that we are in uncharted waters with the coronavirus pandemic is a massive understatement. Every day is steeped in so much uncertainty… everything from whether it’s wise to go to the grocery store to whether you’ll have a job next week, all fits nicely into the “Well, I have no idea” box. It’s really, really difficult to keep your equilibrium in the midst of all this instability, but it helps a lot to have some tools to work with.
During this period of isolation and social distancing, I’m seeing how important it is to mind your mental health. Just like I make a point of getting some exercise every day, I see a need to check in with myself on a daily basis. How am I doing with all this uncertainty? What’s my outlook now? And now? Because it changes. That’s why keeping up with it is key.
Here are 5 ways you can stay sane in the face of all this uncertainty, 5 tools to use when times get tough for you, as we navigate these uncharted waters together. From a safe distance, of course. 😉
Grant me the serenity
There are things you can do something about, and there are things you can do nothing about at all. Being able to discern which is which, is where it’s at. Even if you’re not religious, The Serenity Prayer offers some of the best advice for getting through times of uncertainty:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Put another way: don’t play games with this scary thing, unless it’s a game you can win.
Do you like to watch movies and TV shows that you’ve already seen before? Me too. A while back I wondered why I like to revisit things like this when I already know what’s going to happen, so I did a little research. Turns out we humans love predictability and we don’t like uncertainty, surprise surprise. So, when we’re feeling all topsy-turvy, Simpsons reruns offer a calming effect. We know exactly what’s going to happen because we’ve seen this episode 100 times. We relax, we finally can laugh a little.
Other boring, predictable things you could do include re-reading a favorite book, going on a hike you’ve done many times, doing the same workout every day for a while so you can turn your brain off, and making your favorite comfort food(s). I’m not much of a cook, but I love making potato gnocchi. It’s easy but time consuming and messy to make, fattening as all get-out and pairs great with any Friends episode.
Go outside and play
We’re not supposed to be hanging out around other people, true, but the proper care and feeding of a human includes fresh air. If you’re just sitting around pantless on your couch all day, dishes piling up on the coffee table around your feet, that’s going to take a toll. Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion, and if your body has not moved in so long that there’s a you-shaped groove in that couch, up and at ‘em! Time to get out of the stale air and aerate your brain with some good juju from Mama Earth.
Remember to put your pants on though.
Be here now
When anxiety attacks come on, one of the best things you can do is start looking around you and naming stuff. It gets you out of your spinning thoughts and into the present… what is actually happening right now. Even simple observations like “I hear a bird chirping” will go very far in reeling you back in from whatever rabbit hole you were headed down.
Deep breaths help too. Focusing on the inhale and the exhale, watching them come in and go out, will go a long way toward calming your runaway thoughts. The past already happened, there’s nothing more to be done there. The future hasn’t happened yet, so there’s nothing to be done there either. Be here now.
Here’s a breathing video to help you get started. https://www.patreon.com/posts/how-to-square-35144466?utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=postshare&fbclid=IwAR1Ze0i2k9BAJFz53N6XzwU3o387ARKtALi_xaxvFhwLkK6dCr7HUwno_YY
Ask for what you need
So many of us would do well to hone the skill of asking for what you need. The Law of Attraction is based on this entire principle, that you must put energy and attention toward the thing you want or need. If you never state what is needed, no one can help you. Not me, not the universe and not even yourself.
So, what do you need? And who can help you get it? The answer might be you. But the first step is being able to discern what is needed in this moment. Perhaps it’s just a phone call with a loved one that you need, to calm your weary heart. Or maybe you need dinner brought to you because the thought of cooking today is a “no”. Can your local pizza restaurant help you here, or is something else needed?
When we know what we need, we can state clearly what it is. Once the broadcast has been sent, it’s only a matter of time before a message comes back. Reach out, and trust that you are supported. Uncertainty in life doesn’t have to mean loneliness too. It’s a great time to lean on your friends.
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