We’re in the midst of some very unusual times. What’s going on is unprecedented in modern history and it’s bringing challenges and adversity to so many.
So how do we keep our sanity? How do we stay positive and functional?
The answer is probably a little different for everyone, because everyone’s situation is unique. Here’s some ideas which are helping me, and I hope they help you as well.
One of the most challenging aspects of tough times is we often feel very alone. With what we’re dealing with now, we might be feeling extra alone. Yet luckily, we have more connection options than ever before in human history. No, we might not be able to hang out at a cafe, bar or restaurant like we’d like to. But we can still pick up our phone and call someone. Even better, we can video call them. Prior to this current halt in our lives, there might have been friends you wished you had more time to talk to. Maybe work was especially busy though, or you and they just couldn’t coordinate your schedules. Now could be a great chance to reach out and have a fully engaged, no time limit conversation.
Adding a call like that to our daily routine, gives us something to look forward to. It provides a degree of consistency and structure to our day. Plus, although it can’t always fix the issues we’re facing, talking to others can definitely help us deal with them.
If you live with family, another connection opportunity is to create special moments with your children or significant other. I’ve never met a parent who regretted spending more time reading , baking, or playing games with their child. There comes a point each day in crisis situations like the one we’re in, where you’ve done everything you can for the day. More reading or worrying about the problem isn’t going to help improve it, and all the action you can take has been taken. Allowing ourselves to spend the rest of the day engaged in quality time with the people who mean the most to us can do a lot for our state of mind.
Although things like going to the movies might not be an option right now, there’s an unprecedented array of movies online. When I was a kid there were three main channels on the TV. THREE! And you could only watch whatever they were showing at that time. There was no video on demand, or recording anything. Today though, with online streaming services, you can access thousands of movies with the click of a button. So maybe pick the genre of your choice and watch the top ten inspirational, adventure, or mystery movies of all time. Something which lifts your spirits.
If movies aren’t your thing, this could be a great chance to binge watch an entire television series. Laughter has been proven to stimulate our body’s immune system. A great reason to spend some time watching a hilarious sitcom.
Music is another option. Live concerts might be cancelled, but that doesn’t mean the world has gone quiet. Like movies, we have access to a tremendous library of musical content, accessible with the push of a button. Songs have a way of profoundly changing our state. It may sound simplistic, but putting on one of your favorite songs can dramatically shift your emotions when you’re feeling down.
Near and dear to my heart for dealing with extended down times and crisis, is reading a good book. I love books because they immerse us in other realities like nothing else can. When we read, our brains are massively involved in creating mental images of what’s on the pages. So in addition to taking us on adventures, inspiring us, or tantalizing our curiosity, reading also does a great job of give our minds a break from whatever we’re dealing with.
So often there’s something we’re interested in learning about, or doing, but we just can’t find time in our busy schedules for it. Maybe it’s cooking, dancing, speaking another language, playing an instrument, building the best paper airplane, computer coding, designing water filtration systems for impoverished areas, gardening… The list is unlimited. So are the resources at our disposal. Are you a visual learner? Perfect, YouTube probably has at least twenty different options for whatever you want to learn about. If you prefer text based instructional learning, a single search on Google can keep you busy for days, if not months.
When we learn, we grow, and that makes our life feel more meaningful. When we evolve by doing, it helps us realize we’re still in control of aspects of our life. In the world’s current situation, that’s an important thing for our mind to remember. Plus, like with adding a daily call to our schedule, adding a set time each day for learning or doing helps us feel a sense of consistency, structure, and purpose.
As a last and final note, in addition to everything above, one of the most important things for keeping ourselves sane during this time, is finding things to be grateful for. It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the challenges and uncertainty from what’s going on. Finding aspects of our life to be grateful for helps counter that. It centers us and puts things in a more balanced perspective.
If you’re reading this, you have eyes. How amazing is that? You can see! Were you able to get out of bed this morning? That’s an incredible gift. Do you have a phone, a computer, a place to live, a bed to sleep in, food in your refrigerator, access to information, movies, music, and books, people who care about you and who you care about? Those and thousands of others, are all things we often take for granted. Dedicating a few moments to be genuinely grateful for them does a lot for our mental state.
This time of adversity will pass. Hang in there.