There are concrete ways to decrease your fears and increase your joy.
No one prepared us for this. Living in this time of COVID-19 is disarming for everyone.
If you have been watching the news at all, or have social media, or basically talk to anyone, then you are well aware of the disruptions to our world and the risks of COVID-19. The physical risk of severe disease or death. The financial and employment consequences. The news is full of scary statistics and numbers.
This news is serious and not to be taken lightly, however, there is also a risk to our mental and emotional health. Many people are already suffering from mental illness such as depression or anxiety disorders. The current state of affairs in the world is not helpful and can send any of us into a mental spiral.
Because of all this, we must take measures to protect our mental and emotional health, not just our physical health.
You still can, and should, experience joy and happiness in this time of coronavirus. You must look for it and actively practice good mental habits.
We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy. — Joseph Campbell
What can you do to help increase your well-being, decrease your anxiety and increase your joy in this stressful time?
- Limit your consumption of news. Too much and you will become quickly overwhelmed. Try checking in a max of twice daily. More than that is objectively too much.
2. Try to get your information about the virus from neutral sources.
Know that news stations are a business and want to hook you into watching more of their programming. They can be far from neutral.
Social media is generally not a great source of reliable information.
3. Stay in touch — online or via phone — with friends and family.
Check in with people. People will appreciate your efforts to stay connected. Tell people how you feel. Be more open.
4. Make a list of things and activities that make you happy. And try to do something on this list daily.
5. Write — every day — three things in your life that you are grateful for. Yes, gratitude is an amazing practice that will increase the joy you feel in your day-to-day life. Even now in this pandemic you can find things to be grateful for. Find them and express your thanks to them.
It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack. — Germany Kent
6. Exercise daily. Exercise releases endorphins, which makes us feel better, both physically and mentally.
7. Get some fresh air daily. Being in nature is calming. Social distancing, of course.
8. Maintain perspective about the reality of COVID-19. Most people who get the virus will recover. Yes, many will have tragic outcomes, but most recover.
9. Keep a routine. Routines help us feel more relaxed and we can focus on the areas of life that we can control.
10. Practice breathing — with meditation, yoga or mindful breathing. Mindfulness while breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system, which helps us to relax.
11. Eat well. Poor nutrition doesn’t help with mental stress and can make you feel much worse. Plus, you don’t want to come to the end of the pandemic carrying more pounds, do you?
12. Be aware of your thinking. Your thoughts create your feelings. Becoming more aware of what we are thinking and questioning those thoughts is a crucial step to gaining control over your mental health.
Byron Katie (The Work) has a great technique to help you question your thoughts. Check out her work or learn more about cognitive behavioural therapy techniques.
If we don’t question our thoughts, then we just blindly assume that what we think is true. Often, they are thoughts with no basis in reality.
13. Find someone you can have deep conversations with and can share your feelings and concerns. Often just verbalizing your concerns with a loved one can reduce your own burden and stress. Let them do the same with you. Sharing our feelings lessens the stress we feel. Unexpressed fears increase in their intensity.
14. Help other people. Kindness goes along way. Our world needs all the kindness it can get right now.
There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you will be part of the problem. — Eldridge Cleaver.
Be someone who makes our world better.
Who will you be in 6 months? A better person? Someone who helped in any small way they could? Or someone who complained, argued, lived in anger and made life difficult for others?
We are all struggling, some more than others. Take the time to lift the burden for someone else and you will find an inner joy that can light you up.
15. Be aware of and follow the government policies and guidance on preventing the spread of the virus.
*Physically distancing ourselves from others — at least 6 feet away
*Staying home as much as possible
*Stay away from people who have symptoms
*Washing hands frequently for at least 20 seconds with soap and water (or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol)
*Avoid touching your face, esp. Eyes, nose and mouth.
*Covering your mouth and nose when around others with a cloth mask (CDC recommendation)
*Cover your coughs and sneezes (wash hands very well after)
*Clean frequently touched surfaces with a good disinfectant or soap and water
*Stay home if you have symptoms and call the agency that is doing testing in your area. — Do NOT go anywhere with symptoms.
Take care and stay safe.