COVID-19 has brought the world upside-down including mine. Our state has been hit particularly hard. There is a consistent stream of bad news that keeps getting worse. Given the nature of the situation, emotional well-being is extremely hard. It requires discipline and extra effort.
This weekend, as I began working from home, I tried a simple experiment. I limited checking news to just twice a day – morning and evening. Even with just two times a day, I felt my muscles tensing as I read it. I felt pain and anguish for the suffering of those impacted.
However, I seized the rest of each day. When I was not glued to the news, I soaked in the sunshine, cooked healthy and delicious meals, called my loved ones and read. I even wrote some.
I reflected on what is keeping me sane and grounded during these trying times and came up with a few strategies, I would like to share.
My hope is that you will find a few that resonate with you and can practice them during these turbulent times.
Here they are:
A few years ago, I started to journal 3 things I was grateful about at the end of each day. This has changed the purpose of my existence and brings me to a smile even on days that look and feel hard. This is also an addicting habit. Over time, I have brought in an extra element: adding the why (why I am grateful for what I am journaling).
Try this: Journal your grateful moments and the “whys” before you sleep. They can be small or big. Notice what you feel.
You may also enjoy my previous LI articles on gratitude: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/my-30-days-gratitude-experiment-anu-arora-acc/ and https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/attitude-gratitude-anu-arora-founder-of-get-hired-training/
Practice Random Acts of Kindness:
Human beings are wired for generosity. In times like this, when everything is uncertain with lots of unknown, altruism feels good. When we practice random acts of kindness, we feel positive. Others are likely to follow suit, creating a circle of kindness.
“The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.” Albert Schweitzer
Try this: There is a lot of opportunity to practice these in the current environment. Figure out what and where you can help (keeping yourself safe). Then do it.
Assume good intent:
There is a lot of angst about what should and shouldn’t be happening in the handling of COVID-19. I was chatting with a friend of mine who has friends in the WA government and she said the teams have been working on just a few hours for sleep a night since the last 2 weeks strategizing and implementing action to keep us safe. People are under inordinate amount of pressure and are doing the best they can. This is the time to appreciate the hard and brave work of our emergency response teams and healthcare providers. As we have stepped back, they have stepped up.
Try this: Next time you get frustrated with handling of COVID-19, ask yourself, what ways can you contribute to the solution?
Practice Extreme Social Distancing not disconnection:
The most important intervention that will save the virus from spreading at such a fast pace and ‘flatten the curve’ of this outbreak is ‘social distancing’. And yes, correctly washing hands is right there as well.
As we practice ‘social distancing’, it can be daunting, isolating and even fear-inducing. Make wise choices daily to stay a safe distance away from other people, but make sure you are connected with your loved ones through technology – phone, video, and even social media. Checking on each other’s well-being and being compassionate and kind in word and action will also help other people not feel alone during these times.
I have been walking a lot on the trail near my house. The days have been nicer and there isn’t anywhere else to go. There are many people who I have never seen before out there maintaining the social distance and doing the right thing. Some of us are smiling and acknowledging each other a lot more than others. That makes a difference. When we are smiling, our neurochemistry changes. Also, mirroring effect will change it for the receiver as well. When we are smiling, we increase the positive emotional sphere.
Today, smile on purpose!
Calm your nerves:
We are in one of the most anxious times ever. When we are anxious, our amygdala hijacks the rational part of the brain (Pre-Frontal Cortex) and it shuts down. Our decision making is severely impacted. That may be the reason why we are stocking rolls and rolls of toilet paper.
One of the best ways to tackle anxiousness and activate the Pre-Frontal Cortex is through breathing and mindfulness practices. Our connection to breath is the fastest way to bring us into the present moment.
This previous article of mine has two breathing techniques to calm the nervous system – Alternate Nostril Breathing and the Bumble Bee Breath. They have been a staple for me. I have also taught these to thousands. Try them out. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/pursuit-happiness-anu-arora/ You might have your own way to calm your nerves and bring yourself in a peaceful state. It is great time to start using them whenever you feel anxiety coming on.
Like anxiety grows when it is shared, peace also grows when shared. Everyone wants peace in those moments, but doesn’t quite know how to. The practices that bring you calm will bring that quality into your interactions with others and the circle of calm and peace expands.
Find activities where time stops for you:
Are there activities where time stops for you? You are so absorbed that you lose self-consciousness. Positive psychology researchers call it is a ‘state of flow’. Researchers have also found that this increased and focused attention on the present moment, leads to increased positive effect, well-being and performance.
A friend of mine loves to sketch. He has been producing brilliant masterpieces in the last couple of weeks. I love to do yoga. I can be on the mat for hours practicing postures and breathing techniques. I usually have to put a timer so that I don’t miss my next appointment.
BTW, activities like watching TV may not qualify under this category. Psychologist Mark K. Setton states that in order for a flow state to occur, you must see the activity as voluntary, enjoyable (intrinsically motivating), and it must require skill and be challenging (but not too challenging) with clear goals towards success.
“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation.” Aristotle
Have a routine:
As many of you work from home, it is easy to blend into each other and pajamas to become the new fashion statement.
Maintain your routine as if you are going to work. Maintain regular times to eat, exercise and sleep. It is easy to overeat in the times of stress. Having a routine helps to prevent that.
There are ton of articles that have come on best practices on working from home. Lots of good material, see what works the best for your well-being.
Learn something new:
My neighbor yesterday sent home Thai Spring Rolls, that she cooked. They were yummy. She loves cooking. There are recipes she had been wanting to try but didn’t have the time. She said that this was great opportunity for her to try new things. The recipe from the spring rolls was from her friend who lives in Thailand. Another friend is refreshing his skills and learning the latest cloud technologies. I am pursuing few courses online relating to advancing my own craft as a Coach.
What is it you have been wanting to learn? How can you make that happen in the current environment (keeping yourself and others safe)?
Dance with the unknown:
A friend of mine said today that she was pondering on what really matters. She then asked me, ‘If you were to change the lens of your camera, what do you see?
Here is what came up for me:
When I change my lens, I see no fear. I see light.
We hardly knew anything yesterday
Yet this unknown of today frightens us
This unknown also ignites us
Just like the unknown has ignited us before
Our curiosity to discover the unknown
Has brought us (the human species) this far
It seeks and ask the questions
That were not asked before
It looks at the new information
It sparks creativity and innovation
That has the answers
To create a new future
Then feeling trapped in an old one
Dear friend, I dance with the unknown
For when we know this, there will be a new unknown
“Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.” Desmond Tutu
With love and light
#emotionalwellbeing #coaching #Covid19 #Coronavirus #Wellbeing #health #mindfulness #breathing #gratitude #smile #igniteyourlight #dancewiththeunknown #meditation #walking #flow #calmyournerves