These days, feeling uncertain, fearful, and anxious is normal.
The first step to keep a sane mind amidst Coronavirus is acknowledging and welcoming difficult emotions, accepting a lot is out of our control, and identifying what actions we can take to stay centered when everything seems grey and chaotic around us.
These are 8 actions you can take right now to care for your mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
1. Create (or maintain) a routine.
All of my clients are struggling with the lack of structure that’s resulted from the measures taken to fight the Coronavirus. It’s hard to all of a sudden be told you need to work from home.
Underneath that struggle is a desire for certainty, for control.
Now more than ever, it’s evident that having a structured routine contributes to our mental and physical health.
Right now, it’s important the you try to stick to your usual routine as much as possible. If you usually workout in the morning before heading to work, continue to do that. If you meditate, do that. If you stretch, do that.
For example, commit to be in front of the computer at 8:00 AM (or whatever time works for you). If it helps, set an alarm to know it’s time to take a lunch break. Then start working again. Stop for a 1-hour lunch break, and get back to work.
Tweak this to adapt it to your preferences. The goal is to create a structure, a routine that helps you feel productive and in charge of your own time.
This is a way to minimize anxiety, lower procrastination, boos your productivity, and keep you sane.
2. Minimize watching TV during the day.
Unless it’s part of your job, watching TV during the day is not ideal.
I’m all for staying informed and consult reliable, official sources in a rational, measured manner.
If you decide to watch TV, make sure you have a question that you want answered. Once answered, turn it off. This applies to the Internet and social media as well.
Watching TV during the day can easily spiral down into three hours of binge-watching the news, obsessively checking Instagram, and trying to respond to all of your friend’s posts on Facebook or WhatsApp messages.
All this does is throwing off your routine, increase your anxiety, and leads to frustration because you weren’t productive.
Along those lines, beware of how watching TV at night can turn into three glasses of wine and going to bed at 3:00 AM.
Watching TV and wine aren’t bad in themselves, but right now they may not be ideal to your emotional, mental and physical well-being.
Anxiety + stress + wine + TV = physical, mental, emotional disaster
3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
This is an opportunity to cook at home, try out new recipes, and enjoy a meal without distractions.
Specially now, it’s important that you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and wholesome foods.
This will not only help your immune system, but also help you feel more energized and nourished.
4. Minimize your alcohol consumption.
Alcohol and wine are not a good companion to anxiety and stress, specially when you’re having a hard time creating a routine that will work for you for the coming weeks.
I’ve heard from some of my clients that working from home makes them feel like they are in a quasi-vacation. Others tell me that drinking wine at night helps them distress.
Drinking alcohol is one of those things that can trigger other unwanted behaviors, such as overeating, emotional eating, binge-watching TV, or going to bed at 2:00 AM.
It’s not conducive to creating the environment and routine you need to stay sane and healthy right now.
It’s not about all or nothing. It helps me to stick to the FS rule: Wine only on Fridays and Saturdays. I know myself well, if I drink wine during the week, I feel tired and less centered.
5. Move your body.
This looks different for each person. For some is going for a run. For others is a walk or doing burpees in the living room.
The goal is to continue to move your body in ways you enjoy! Cut Seven, a studio based in Washington D.C. is posting great workouts on their Instagram profile.
If you search for #homeexercises on Instagram, you’ll find many easy ways to move your body while you’re at home.
The benefits of exercise are numerous. It doesn’t have to be a strenuous workout. Simply sit less and move more.
6. Meditate (or dedicate time to any practice that helps you slow down).
If you’re a meditator, stick to your practice. If you’re not and want to give it a try, go for it!
A consistent meditation practice is a powerful practice that enhances your self-awareness, leads to emotional agility, resilience, and a sense of ease. Definitely, a tool you want to have in your “Sanity List” these days.
If meditation is not your thing, create space in your routine to slow down. This might be a long walk, drawing, cooking, cleaning or listening to music. Whatever doesn’t involve screens and gives your brain a break works!
Dan Harris’ 10% Happier is holding live meditation with amazing teachers every weekday at 3:00 PM EST. Check them out here.
Tara Brach has put together this pandemic care list of resources.
7. Leverage technology to connect with others.
Physical distancing is not social distancing. Leverage technology to stay in touch with friends and family.
This week I had a virtual lunch date with a friend.
Last night I held a videoconference with my sister (in Lima, Peru) and my parents (Bogota, Colombia).
A former client told me her friend planned a virtual dinner with all of her friends.
We can stay connected right now. We need it more than ever.
8. Be of service.
I don’t need to tell you about the research for you to know that it feels great—in the body and the mind—to help others.
Being of service gets you out of your own mind (which is busy catastrophizing and worrying!) and triggers the secretion of feel-good-hormones.
While many people are financially stable and aren’t as affected by the economic consequences of the Coronavirus, others are struggling to stay afloat and are under a lot of financial and emotional stress.
How can you help others right now? Is it calling a friend or uncle who’s home alone? Is it buying extra cans of soup and make a donation to your local food bank? Maybe it looks like helping co-workers with children with part of their workload.
This is the time to recognize that we’re all interconnected and that nothing is permanent. It’s time to befriend the idea that we can only have control of the actions we take.