There is so much fear and uncertainty around the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. People all around the world are finding ways to cope with it in different ways. So, a question that we all face is: How can we stay as calm and happy, under these circumstances?
People have the false notion that happiness means being 100% happy all of the time. That’s not possible, and even if it were possible, it wouldn’t be a good.
Realistically, there are times when we don’t feel happy or calm, and that’s appropriate and natural. But even in those times, we can take steps to feel as happy and as calm as we can be and in doing so, help ourselves weather a crisis more effectively. We also strengthen ourselves to be more helpful to others and to our community.
So for people who are fortunate enough to be in good health (be appreciative) in addition to health measures such as washing hands and practicing social distancing, what can we do in a challenging time like this?
Since this isn’t my first post on this subject, this is what I’m reminding myself, as I’m spending a lot more time inside and away from other people:
1. Take care of your yourself (physically). This is important mentally and emotionally. Set a schedule, get a good night’s sleep, wake up at a decent hour, eat healthy food, don’t drink too much, and try to stick to a regular routine of personal hygiene and dress.
2. Keep moving. This may be tough if your normal exercise routine has been disrupted, but find a way to stay active and make it work for you. Even in a small space you can do yoga, you can watch YouTube videos, you can use exercise apps, or even follow one of my very good friends, personal trainer, Alandis Maxwell. He hosts a Facebook Live cardio class: Tues, Thurs 6-6:30am and Saturday 8:15-9am CST.
My family has been taking bike rides around the neighborhood. While socializing at a distance doesn’t offer the same connection for me … waving at neighbors and friends as we bike through does.
3. Beware of information overload. We all want to stay up-to-date with the latest news, but it’s easy to get overwhelmed and become anxious after hearing it. Learn what you need to learn, but don’t get sucked into the three-hour scroll. Monitor your screen time so you have a solid sense of your habits. You might want to schedule time to check current events—perhaps twice a day—so the news doesn’t overtake you. Steer clear of accounts of disasters. We have to protect ourselves and that includes our sanity and mental well-being.
4. Be Ready so you don’t have to Get Ready. When a crisis hits, people want to prepare. People don’t always prepare in the most helpful and rational ways, but they want to do something. Get informed by a sound source—like this one from the CDC—about how to prepare wisely, and then do it. Action can help alleviate some of the anxiety.
5. Organize. Yes, I know it sounds ridiculous—but my father always told me that “outer order gives a sense of inner calm and focus.” It’s irrational, of course, but it’s true if you feel desperate to plan. If there’s nothing more to be done, clearing up your space might help you feel calmer. It’s concrete action that will lead to a visual improvement. So even if it’s not rational, it can be helpful.
6. Help others. Being the extrAvert that I am … One of the best ways to make myself happier is to make other people happier—or feel safer, calmer, or better organized. Look for ways to help others, make sure they’re prepared and give them a sense of security so they know you’re looking out for them.
7. Connect with friends and family and reach out to people who may feel isolated. Have you ever noticed that the strong friends withdraw during times of crisis? This is a time when technology can really come in handy! Pick up the phone, call, text, send a funny video … we all want to feel connected and cared for. Strong social relationships are a key to happiness, so find ways to avoid feeling trapped and lonely. Shout out to my “HouseParty” crew.
8. Make good use of this opportunity. Being stuck at home is THE opportunity that none of us wished for!! Look for ways to use this time to get things done you otherwise wouldn’t be able to do. Have you started spring cleaning your closets? Would you like to start a blog, a podcast … or write a book? Try some new recipes, get back into meditation, update your resume. Invest in yourself with a variety of trainings and webinars now available.
Now would be the perfect time to start journaling if that’s your thing. It’s a milestone in the life of the world, and when this is all over (and at some point, it will be over), you may be very glad you kept a record.
9. Catch up on books, podcasts, movies, or TV shows. These activities will keep your mind engaged and active, and they’ll distract you from anxiety. In the long run, it’s very helpful and necessary to give ourselves mental breaks.
10. Create comforting rituals. You may already have rituals that help you feel grounded throughout the day. These might be helpful now—but you’ll have to adapt, if your usual comforting ritual is disrupted.
Find ways to have pleasant patterns through your day that allow you to feel grounded and calm. Mine is spending more time with our 6 yo. and guiding him through the idea of homeschooling. Something we have been considering over the last couple of school years anyway.
We can also find ways to combine these tips. For instance, I find myself pacing around the house while I talk to friends in DC or to my baby brother Adam in NJ. A few weeks ago, I attended a “virtual party” with my sister, Stacie. Perhaps you’ll start writing in your new journal every evening at sunset, with a nightcap and music playing in the background.
If you enjoyed what you read just now … Subscribe to my podcast here and be sure to tune in every week for a new episode. Leave a message … What strategies, tips, and solutions have you found helpful for staying calm and happy, under the circumstances? I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for joining us this week on BrieskiTRAVEL The Blog and The Podcast!
Stay Healthy! Stay Safe!