We all long for life to return to normal, but that is not how life works, it moves on. We will never return to the good ‘ole days. Rather we will evolve to a new normal. Now is the time to consider what we want that to be.
Almost everyone during this unprecedented time in history is feeling a great deal of stress, fear, anxiety and even depression. We feel little control over our individual lives. Yet this is exactly where we should start—we need to take control over that which we can control. We will all be stronger for it!
When life is uncomfortable, the natural tendency is to escape. Most people will retreat and become immobilized in the world of television or computers. This will not help us manage our thoughts and feelings for long. Instead we need healthier coping strategies to survive this unsettled time in our life.
Many regions have gone into lockdown once again due to Covid-19 and we are unsure of what the future holds, but humans are creatures of habit, so you need to plan your habits. You know what to expect when you have a daily routine and it does not take much effort once the routine is established. It is just what you do.
- Set a firm time of when you wake up and when you go to bed each day. Sleep is the key to a heathy life because it allows for rejuvenation of our mind, body and soul.
- Follow your normal routine for daily hygiene even if you are not going to work and even if you do not feel like it.
- Plan your schedule and eat on schedule. Do not go in the kitchen if it is not time for a planned meal or snack. No eating after dinner—The Kitchen Is Closed!
- Drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water per day. Any other beverage is in addition to this!
- Exercise releases chemicals in your body that will naturally boost your mood. There is no prescription medicine that comes close to achieving the same results that exercise provides so plan your daily activity time. Each day should be different.
- Aerobic activity especially during these times of Covid is needed every day for 45 minutes to an hour so try walking around the block or go to a park. Try running, biking, dancing or anything that makes you breathe deeply and sweat!
- Strength training is needed 2-3 times per week. You do not need special equipment. Your own body weight is the best resistance.
- Stretching and flexibility training is necessary to avoid injury and maintain good form. Just watch the animals as they naturally do this every time they get up.
- It takes at least 66 days for a new routine to become a habit. One good choice leads to another!
- Be kind to yourself. These are tough times, so you need to take care of yourself, especially if you have to take care of others. Your home is your safe space and you can practice self-care by building in specific times to soothe your soul. Make a list of your favorite things that involve all your senses and commit to this daily:
- Things to see—cards from friends or sending cards to friends, pictures of your family, books from times gone by, travel literature, magazines, video chat or Facetime
- Things to hear—music from when you were in high school, white noise like thunderstorms or ocean waves, wind chimes, books on tape, talking on the phone
- Things to smell—candles, aromatherapy with essential oils, other fragrances and lotions
- Things to taste—making HEALTHY comfort foods including soups and stews to warm your home, herbal teas, holiday baking (but give most away to maintain your own health)
- Things to touch—blankets, slippers, journaling, writing letters, facials, hot bath/shower, and do not forget hugging the people you live with and your pets!
The greatest enemy is isolation, but you can change that quickly. You can call family and friends, you can Zoom events, you can join an online group and share books or hobbies—you can try new books or hobbies by ordering online those things that you find interesting, you can social distance on a walk and initiate conversations with new people who may need you as much as you need them. Loneliness is not a permanent condition nor is this Covid chaos. Find a way to reach out in service to others. Most nonprofits are struggling terribly and could use your help. It lifts our own spirit when we can help someone else.
It is a unique time, but there can be good that comes from this bad. Take this opportunity to improve your mental AND physical health by creating your new normal routine. Try some of the items listed and add your own ideas to the list.
Trying any or all of these coping strategies might help you feel a little bit better. We all must “fake it ‘til we make it”.
And we WILL make it!