Hoda Kotb cried on The Today Show this morning. She had just interviewed Drew Brees from the New Orleans Saints about a generous donation he made to Louisiana victims of the corona virus. It was a good news story, but the emotions of everything going on seemed to just spill over. I get it. I am feeling so overwhelmed by the constant bad news, I can’t imagine what it is like for the journalists who are reporting it. It is unrelenting. If you are feeling anxious and overwhelmed like me, here are some ways to help get through it.
Focus on the present. It sounds so simple but in times of uncertainty, it becomes even more important to focus on the present moment. Take a breath, notice who you are with, listen to your conversations and be grateful for your time here and now. The truth is, we don’t know what it going to happen. We don’t know when life will be back to normal. The only control you have is in the moment, so make the most of it.
Embrace time. How often do you say or think, “I would love to…if only I had time.” What are those things or those projects you’ve put off because you were too busy? Life is slowing way down. You may now have time to get to some of those things that have been on your ‘if I had time wish-list’ — books, DIY projects, hobbies, self-development, exercise, to name a few. Think. What have you been meaning to get to? How would it feel to accomplish something that you have long wanted to do?
Re-connect with people, disconnect from media. It is important to get the latest news that affects your life, sure, but do you really need to hear it constantly? If social media or the news is taking you down a black hole, shut it off. Instead, think about your human connections. Have a video chat with someone you haven’t seen in a while, play a game with your family or host a Zoom cocktail hour. There is an abundance of humanity in all of this, you may just need to seek it out. Virtually, that is.
Manage the overwhelm. If you feel like it is all just too much, and everything feels out of control, refocus to the things you can change. Try this exercise. Make 3 lists: 1) those things which you have control over; 2) that which you can influence; 3) those things that are beyond your control. Then, go to List #1, the things you have control over, and take one action step, on one item. On List #2, what you have influence over, write down steps you will take to move the needle. Finally go to your third list, things beyond your control — cross each item on that list out. Then take the paper, crumple it into a ball, make a basket into the trash. Not only will this help you feel more in control, this may be the closest thing you get to playing basketball for a while.
Keep Your Sense of Humor. No, this isn’t funny, but we need to do our best to enjoy the life we’ve got. Sometimes, it helps just to have a good laugh. According to scientists, not only does laughter help relieve stress but it also boosts our immune systems. According to an article by Marshall Brain on How Stuff Works, when we are laughing we increase production of all sorts of cells, including those that destroy viruses and make disease-destroying antibodies.
These are strange and challenging times that are affecting us all, even the normally stoic and upbeat. Whatever happens, we can be certain this moment won’t last forever. Take the time you are given to enjoy what you have, be present in the moment and don’t dwell too much about what you can’t control. If that’s not enough, turn off the news, find a good comedy on Netflix and (at least try) to chill.