Updated: Mar 26, 2020
The Coronavirus pandemic is bringing us lots of feelings of uncertainty, worry, restlessness, hopelessness, panic and anxiety.
One moment we might even catch ourselves thinking that we’re living through an interesting period of history and this new situation is even somewhat exciting.
But then we also get the sudden realization of how bizarre this new reality actually is and the fact that it all happened so suddenly, and we don’t know when or how it’s going to end, may get our anxiety levels sky high.
Our life is so much different compared with just a little over a month ago.
Yet still, our life somehow goes on and we just have to live with this new reality.
Having felt somewhat unease during the first week of the COVID-19 outbreak, I’m now starting to settle into my new routines. Therefore, I'd love to share my best tips of how to cope with all this new reality that we’re all facing together.
Accept the things you can’t control.
Let’s face it, the overall situation is quite bad...
… BUT, as human beings, we can endure A LOT more than we think.
We are extremely resilient species and can adapt to even the most extreme situations in life. Luckily, most of us just haven’t had to experience it yet (yes, even this situation is quite okay for us who are still healthy or are just lightly sick and can be in the comfort of our own homes).
Even though this new reality that we’re facing is very uncomfortable both physically- by either being sick or being healthy but having to stay indoors in a limited amount of space for a long time, or psychologically, causing a lot of worry, anxiety, or depression, we are much more capable of adapting to it and even making the best out of the situation than we think.
The thing that often gets in the way of us naturally adapting to the new situation is mostly our thoughts.
When we start to overthink about the things we can't control, we enter a downward spiral of feeling worse and worse about the situation even though there's no way we can change it.
There are lots of things that are outside of our control, such as the way different countries’ governments are handling this differently, or the way your country is handling it (unless you have the power to directly influence it somehow), the fact that some people are not following the government recommendations, or the shortage of toilet paper or groceries, the fact that service branch is suffering from this, the economy regression, and many other things that get us really worried.
But, as bad as it sounds, unless you can take action and influence any of them directly, just thinking about these things won’t change anything.
I have earlier written a blog post about proactive versus reactive view, that I recommend checking out to learn how to deal with things we can't control, instead of letting them control us.
You can also talk your worries out with somebody, write them down in a journal, or just become more mindful of what you spend most of your time thinking about and acknowledge each time you become worried about something that’s outside of your control.
We also have the power to express our gratitude for the things we have, like being able to stay in the comfort of our own homes, that are probably full of food, have a chance to reconnect even deeper with our families, or roommates, even if it becomes a bit too intense sometimes, have full access to internet and phones, and many other great things. Check out my earlier blog post about how to practice gratitude to learn more.
One of my favorite quotes is from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now:
This too shall pass.
It actually originates from a Persian adage and these simple four words are so powerful together, especially now.
By knowing that every situation, no matter good or bad, has an expiration date, we can learn to cherish the good situations extra much and not worry about the bad situations as much since “they too shall pass”.
Sooner or later, "this too shall pass".
Consider the things you can control and take action.
Once you’ve become mindful of the things that you cannot control in the current situation, you may also see that there are lots of things that you CAN control as well. Here are my top things to focus on:
- Boost your immune system through diet.
It is more important now than ever to get enough nutrition and make your body strong so that it can fight off all viruses.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends at least 0.5-2 cups of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables a day. A Harvard review also highlights the fact that getting a variety of fruits and vegetables each day is really important to make sure that we get all the vitamins we need.
It’s also best to eat seasonal fruits and vegetables since they tend to be more locally grown and contain more vitamins, which is key for our immune system.
- Get moving!
Another important thing is exercise. Make sure you get your body moving even in the smallest of ways throughout the days, since it also boosts your immune system and makes you stronger if you do get sick.
If you are feeling completely healthy and your country hasn’t yet been put on lockdown, go out for a walk or a run in the nature to get some fresh air and sunlight. Of course, avoid all crowded places, like popular parks and instead try to go into the forest where you are less likely to run into people.
If you have to stay at home, or don’t have a forest nearby (we sometimes take this for granted in Sweden) but are still feeling healthy, there are lots of great home workouts on YouTube that you can try. My favorite ones are yoga sessions with Cat Meffan, or Alo Yoga.
If you have a gym membership, they may have uploaded group sessions online. Some gyms even do live sessions at specific times where you can all exercise together virtually.
Exercise boosts not only your immune system but also your mood. So, it’s especially important to get moving even just a little bit, if you’re feeling upset, or anxious about the current situation.
- Keep social contact even while social distancing.
We’re extremely lucky nowadays that we can still be social despite having to socially distance ourselves.
Now is a great time to start using technology to your advantage and reconnect with all your friends and relatives digitally.
You can use Facetime, Facebook messenger, Skype, or any other online chat and still exercise with your friends by turning on the same YouTube exercise video, have a glass of wine with your friends, watch a movie or your favorite series with your partner, have a cup of tea with your grandma, or have a long talk with a relative or friend who you haven’t seen in a long time.
All this and more can easily be done virtually, and the possibilities are endless!
- Finally engage in your hobbies.
Find hobbies that can be done indoors. For example, plant chilies (and improve your tolerance to spicy food 😊), do a puzzle, start a blog, or a YouTube channel, learn how to do manicure, build a piece of furniture, read books that have been on your list for too long, learn how to knit, learn how to cook exciting meals, create an exercise program and follow it through, redecorate your home, create a photo album of all your life adventures so far… just get creative!
If you live together with someone, find a new fun hobby that you can do together, aside from arguing about the dirty dishes and the mess at home, as well as have your separate hobbies to get a little distance from each other and time for yourself during the day.
Make sure to use this time to engage in your hobbies and come closer to your true self without feeling like you’re wasting time.
- Treat yourself.
Since we can’t really go out to eat, to the gym, to a spa, or travel nowadays, it’s important that we are still treating our mental and physical health with respect, and actually even more than before.
Make a home-spa, take care of your skin, cook yourself an extra delicious meal, clean and redecorate your space so that you get motivated to work there more, create a little meditation corner that will make it easier for you to take care of your mental health, read a good book, make your home into a cinema experience with some delicious snacks and a good movie, get yourself a pretty journal to scribble down your thoughts.
Think of the small things that can motivate you to take care of your mental and physical health more and do them. Take this time to really treat yourself in a similar way as you would do if you could go outside.
Earlier today, I bought myself a nice yoga mat and it’s getting me very excited about doing lots of yoga at home. I’ve also started to get more creative with my meals lately and have been trying new recipes.
- Cut yourself some slack for not being as productive as you would like to be.
Let’s face it – our productivity has really gone down since quarantine has started. Many people find it difficult to work from home since there’s not much separation between work and rest anymore.
We’ve also lost the excitement of anticipating a vacation, a weekend, or a fun dinner with friends after work. Now our days just look more or less the same and many of us can’t even leave the house. We also don’t know when this will end.
On top of it all, many of us have been feeling miserable for not being able to work productively and do all the things we anticipated doing. We suddenly have so much time and days feel long, yet we still don’t get much done.
All this together puts a lot of strain on our mental health, making us exhausted. We are uncertain of our circumstances, don't know how and when the COVID-19 pandemic will end and we suddently have to create and adapt to completely new routines.
So, cut yourself some slack for not being very productive nowadays. It is totally normal to not have full control over your life. This is a totally new situation for the entire world, and we are all adapting to it together.
Your productivity will come back. Just let your mind and body adjust to the changes first.
- Try to create a daily routine
Once you feel less overwhelmed about the situation, start thinking of how you would like your new days to look like.
Would you like to have a morning routine? Specific times of the day when you eat, work, exercise, and rest?
Start by incorporating one little routine at a time, like getting up at the same time and having breakfast. Then, once you feel like you’ve gotten the hang of it, start incorporating the next routine and this way build your day step by step at a time.
Remember to let your mind adjust to it all, so don’t rush it. Be gentle to yourself in this situation that we are currently facing.
In conclusion, by accepting the things that we cannot control and taking matters into our hands for the things we can control, we will all get through this together and come out of it stronger than ever. My top tips are: boost your immune system through good diet and exercise, keep being social virtually while social distancing, engage in your hobbies, treat yourself, cut yourself some slack for not being as productive nowadays and try to create a new daily routines.
Just take it easy and remember to practice mindfulness in times like these. We will all adapt to this situation and get through COVID-19 together! 🧡
I am very interested to hear your opinion and tips on what you'd like to read about in this blog, so you are more than welcome to leave a comment here, or contact me on email@example.com
Laura | MSc in Medical Science, Certified Mindfulness Life Coach