Focus on what you can do right now. Let yourself do the things that you were always “too busy” to do before. Read, write, paint, draw, dance. Start a new project. Now is a great time to start a new project like learn how to knit, put together a big jigsaw puzzle, read the Harry Potter series, watch that series all your friends have been raving about. There are so many possibilities still available to us when we focus on what we CAN do rather than what we can’t.
Chunk it down.Take it moment by moment. We have no road map for this. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. This strategy is called chunking and is hugely valuable for those who struggle with overwhelm. Just focus on whatever bite-sized piece feels doable for you right now. Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time, find what feels feasible for you. Take each chunk one at a time, bit by bit.
Remind yourself that this too shall pass. When you’ve been cooped up in the same small space for days on end, the mind can start to tell the story that this will never end. And you probably feel terrified when you think that thought, which of course no one actually wants to feel. So just remind yourself that it too is temporary, like all things are. This is a new season we are in, but it will pass eventually. All things do.
Pay extra attention to the good stuff. There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. But there are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counterbalance the heavy information with the hopeful information. There are so many helpers, and we might miss that, if we aren’t deliberately and intentionally looking there.
Look for the lessons. This whole crisis can seem insane, irritating, stressful, sad, and senseless. But look beyond those feelings that jump out at you. What’s the value of this? How is this serving us? What’s the benefit? What can you appreciate? How can we as a collective consciousness learn from this? What adjustments will we now make in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world? These are questions that are enabling right now. The more optimistic our outlook, the stronger our immune systems.
Shower and change out of your pajamas. When we’re not planning to leave the house all day it can be tempting to just lounge around in our pajamas or dressing gown. But enough days of that and it will actually begin to impact our mindset in that we will start to feel tired and lethargic throughout the day. So, shower and change your clothes. Wear your favorite outfits – the things that you feel amazing in – and notice how your mood is impacted.
Walk barefoot on the grass. If you have a yard or a park near your home, aim to get out at least once a day to walk around on the grass. If it’s warm enough to go barefoot, do that. This practice (commonly called “earthing”) is very helpful in feeling grounded.
Open your windows. Fresh air is important. Even if it’s cold where you are right now, it’s still important to get some fresh air. If you can’t be outside, bring the outside inside by keeping your windows open.
Do some conscious breathing and movement exercises. Qi gong is a great way to combine both and there are plenty of free videos on YouTube. My business partner at the Intrinsic Brilliance Institute, Deb Maes, has one of her daily sequences here and it’s simple and easy enough for anyone to do.
Reach out to others for support. Whether by phone, WhatsApp, Messenger, Facetime, or Zoom call it so incredibly important for us to remain connected whilst we’re in isolation. Aim to have at least one social interaction scheduled per day. And if you have children, do the same for them by organising virtual playdates. They need peer to peer interaction as much as we do! Thanks to the interwebs, we can stay socially connected even whilst we’re social distancing.
Learn to cook new delicious and nutritious meals. Many folks have found grocery stores to be out of stock of their favorite foods. Now is a great time to challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new! You can learn via recipes on the many food blogs, YouTube videos, or just by experimenting with different ingredients and spices in your pantry.
Prioritise daily self-care. Incorporate self-care practices like meditation, journaling, and self massage into your daily rituals. These practices are the equivalent of brushing our teeth, but for our mindset. It’s more important we do that now than ever before.
Play with your children or pets if you have them. Children can’t always articulate how they are feeling, but you know that they pretty much always want your attention, right? So take this time to give them more of your most precious resources: your attention and energy. Play is cathartic, particularly for children. It will support them in processing their world because there’s so much they are experiencing right now that they are still trying to make sense of.
Be compassionate with yourself and others. We are now living with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines whilst working from home, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement. It can stretch us. A lot of cooped up time when we’re feeling worried can bring out the inner demons we didn’t even know we had. Each of us will have moments when we don’t behave well. Let’s gracefully move through these blowups and meltdowns without any judgement that they occurred. We’re all doing the best we can in each moment. It’s so important we practice radical self acceptance, and then extend that same compassion to others.
Go extra easy on your kids.Relax your behavioural expectations more during this season. Consistency is very important for children and this has massively disrupted that. They rely on routines constructed by their caregivers to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Don’t be surprised if you see increased separation anxiety, nightmares, difficulty sleeping, tantrums, or testing limits. Avoid introducing new rules and consequences at this time, just hold steady and keep your focus on supporting them emotionally. Know that you can counterbalance that disruption by giving them even more of your attention and energy for playtime.
Limit coronavirus conversation and media, particularly around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to once a day, and set a time limit for yourself (i.e. 30 mins max) on how much you consume. Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children. They see and hear more than adults realise, and if you are frightened, they will pick up on that and become afraid too.
Make your own little nest. If you’ve got multiple people living under the same roof and you feel like you’re on top of one another, you might find it particularly valuable to create your own little retreat space, a bit like the cushion forts we built as children (at least I did). Space is at a premium right now, especially for those of us living in the inner-city. It is important that every member of the household have a place to retreat to be uninterrupted, have quiet time, and recharge themselves. Parents can make a game out of rearranging the house so that children can have their own special and private places too.
Laugh more. Whether you look at pictures of LOLcats online, watch standup comedy on Netflix or YouTube, or start practicing laughter yoga, it’s vital to prioritise laughter. When we laugh we release the brain chemicals that go along with that, so particularly if we’re feeling worried or stressed, we need these wonderful neurotransmitters now.
Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.
Express yourself creatively. Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling. Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all. See how relieved you can feel. It is a very effective way of helping kids to express their feelings too.
Focus on what you can control. Right now there is so much that is out of our control. Really it always was, but now more people are waking up to the illusion of the control that we thought we had over our external environment. We actually cannot predict what’s going to happen from moment to moment. What we can control though, is our attitude and approach of how we meet the moment.
Reach out to a professional for help. If you are having difficulty coping, reach out to us at the Intrinsic Brilliance Institute and we will share even more mindset tips and tools to support you through this season. We’ve spent the better part of a decade developing a gym for the mind called Your Success Code so people can remain resilient in the face of all of life’s challenges and never feel like they are facing them alone. If that sounds like it would be valuable for you, let’s connect – we’d love to see you through this tricky time.
Consciousness explorer devoted to unveiling the intrinsic brilliance within all of us.