COVID-19 has changed the way that we view working from home, productivity and security. It has forced many of us to evaluate what is truly important to us. We’ve realized that the expensive vacation that we thought we needed was only a ‘want’ and not a ‘necessity’. Were our carefully curated goals, vision boards and Instagram worth the amount of effort that we placed into them? For many, COVID-19 brought on despair through the loss of jobs, death of loved ones and an economic downfall that no one saw coming. So far 2020 has not been a walk in the park. We all started out excited for a New Year where we would attain the next level of our plans. What we did not know was that in a few short weeks we would be humbled by social distancing requirements and cancellations of services. The worse part of this pandemic has been the uncertainty and the acceptance that we are all living on the edge of economic ruin as individuals and as a country. Even with an emergency fund and savings, the halt in demand for services meant that new business opportunities are harder to get. Many of us were looking at getting promoted in our jobs but instead we were asked to take significant cuts in our salaries while some of us have faced having to apply for unemployment. Florida is probably one of the worse States to be granted unemployment benefits because the monthly cap is $1100. This is barely enough to cover mortgages/rents due to housing costs being ridiculously high in our tourism driven State.
The good news is that we have more than 6 months left to turn this around. This virus will be defeated because we are WARRIORS. We are a generation that is innovative and can adapt to change swiftly. Here are some things that I have been doing in the meantime to not lose hope in 2020:
Tip 1: Be kind to yourself. I have been grappling with accepting that 80% of what is happening is beyond my control and I can either throw a big tantrum every day or face it. I can only control how I react. I remind myself daily to be kind in what I say to myself and the expectations that I have for each day. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t complete a 30-minute exercise. I try to listen to my body and do what works best. A part of me being kind to myself is limiting my TV time and social media hours. I find that I feel less pressure and more accepting if I remain in my bubble. My bubble allows me to create when I want, to go at my own pace and take guilt-free breaks. When I am bombarded with messages like “use this time to come up with a million-dollar idea” or “you lack self-discipline because you’re not using this time in quarantine wisely” I start judging myself and then I get stuck never finishing anything. The reality is that we are all responding to this trauma in our own way. I ignore these types messages because I know they do more harm than good and I have to always do what feels right to me. I have also unfollowed a few influencers not because of what they’ve done but because I’ve had to be brutally honest with myself and realize that their social media content was draining me of my energy and if I was going to be kind to myself then I needed to limit my expose to such messages.
Tip 2: Gratitude.Gratitude has been proven to increase your sense of happiness and spread optimism throughout your life. Research done by Dr. Robert A. Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough, to determine the effects of gratitude found that practicing gratitude has psychological and health benefits. The 1stgroup was directed to write a few sentences about things that they were grateful for that happened throughout the week. The 2ndgroup was instructed to write about their daily irritations while the 3rdgroup was asked to write about events that affected the. The researchers found that “those how wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation” (health.harvard.edu). Now more than ever and in the coming months it is important to incorporate gratitude in our lives to sustain our mental health. Some easy ways to do this are:
- keeping a gratitude journal and consciously writing out things that gives you joy or that you are thankful for each day.
- keeping a gratitude jar. Fill a jar up with things that you are grateful for and reread them back to yourself when you are down or just for fun.
- Meditate on all the good things in your life. This could be through prayer or a self-guided meditation session from YouTube, Spotify or apple music.
Tip 3: Declutter and Plan. Remember your closet that you’ve always wanted to organize? Or your mail box with unwanted coupons and advertisement printouts? Or the glove compartment of your car that’s overflowing with car repair invoices since 2018? All these are spots that you can start decluttering today. It doesn’t have to be big; it doesn’t have to be for a set time, just start. Also, declutter your mind by writing down things so that you are not trapped in a loop thinking about the same issue over and over again. Declutter your relationships so that you can have clarity.
Decluttering helps because it allows you to view yourself as competent and capable of completing a task especially if you are trapped in activity. It’s an action that will energize you and propel you to complete something else because it’s releasing healthy endorphins in your brain. Cleaning your space so that you can breathe can reduce anxiety by giving you a sense of control. I find that when I’m in a rut, decluttering allows me to see the bigger picture so I can get down to planning and doing.
I love to hear your feedback. What are some tips that you’re using during this time?