The recent COVID-19 outbreak has rewritten all the rules of daily life. That’s a stressful thing for each and every one of us. We take great comfort in our routines and practices – and now that comfort’s been turned on its head.
During trying times like this we are tested. But this is also the chance to prove our resolve, work on our abilities to roll with the punches, and become stronger, more resilient people because of it.
This time is especially trying for those of us who have been focusing on being more mindful and for those of us who have been trying to strike balance in our lives between personal time and tech time.
Here we are, now thrust into the “new” normal that relies on staying away from others via physical distancing and depending on electronics for news and staying in touch with loved ones more than ever.
That’s fine. And that’s a big part of this challenge. But that doesn’t mean we need to forget everything we’ve learned about mindfulness or abandon all the progress we’ve made on our journeys to become healthier people.
In fact, one might argue, now is the best time to be aware of our tech use and actions- if only so this temporary crisis doesn’t instill in us another set of bad habits. They say that during times of crisis new habits are formed that can last a lifetime, for the good or the bad.
Here are some tips the team at A-GAP, and our family of professional colleagues, have come up with to stay healthy and mindful throughout the course of this most trying time.
1) Be Honest with Yourself about What You Can and Can’t Control: Every time you have a distracting thought or worry, ask yourself, is this something you can control or change? If not, dismiss the thought entirely. There’s no sense fretting over things that are out of your control. Spend your attention and energy on things you can control.
2) Keep Structure to Your Day: Many of our routines have been disrupted by the crisis, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make new routines. Structure and routine are an important part of establishing control and normalcy. Designate times and places for work, play and housework. Stick to that routine throughout the workday, while allowing flexibility for the evenings in order to keep from getting overwhelmed.
3) Remove As Many Distractions as Possible: The world is crazy enough right now, so there’ no need to add to the distraction rate. If you’re working from home, create a quiet environment where you can focus. Use doors. Turn off your TV and the phone. Set boundaries. And at this time especially, forget the multi-tasking and instead, focus your attention on getting single tasks done one at a time.
4) Take Mindful Pauses: You may find that you are working on your computer all day, now. That’s why it’s important to build in breaks from the screen time. We recommend 50 minutes on / 10 minutes off. This applies to television, too. Don’t let your phone, tablet, PC or TV consume your attention. It will also help for any eyestrain or headaches to periodically look away from your screens and get off your devices momentarily. Step out onto the porch or focus on another activity that doesn’t include electronics.
5) Prioritize Community: During such a stressful time, be sure you consider the plight of others. We can either choose to think about our own struggles, which makes us feel worse or reach out to others realizing they are probably feeling the same way and see how we can help. Even if we can’t meet in person, there are still ways to connect. Find out what your community is doing to assist others and see how you might be able to lend a hand in those efforts.
6) Discover the Power of Journaling: Journaling helps us with external processing of the day’s events and our associated feelings. It’s a terrific way to release any anxiety you may be feeling and replace the negative thoughts with positive truths! During this time, it is essential that we are filling our minds with thoughts that are life giving. Find an old notebook and put your thoughts to paper with a pen.
7) Make the Most of Family Time: Having kids home from school can be a blessing in disguise. Engage kids with a mix of physical activity, unrestrained play, creative exercises and plenty of quiet time and rest. While it may be tempting to use the computer screen as a babysitter, resist that urge. Remember, this is a very rare moment in life when you can explore the joy of family time. Be sure you make use of meal times and recreation times to build the strong family bonds that get people through troubling times like these.
8) Live with Intention: With so many out of the house activities off the schedule right now, there’s plenty of time to focus on all the goals you want to accomplish. Ask yourself when you get distracted, if what you are doing is helping achieve those goals. Don’t waste this golden opportunity to manifest the self-improvement goals you have been putting off.
With all that being said, at the end of the day offer yourselves GRACE. I have noticed my mind wandering during the day and might not have been as productive as I was before this crisis. Notice what I just said “crisis.” We are not used to these hurdles we are facing. Although I believe we should make the most of the time we have and not mindlessly waste it binge watching TV or scrolling through Social Media, I do believe we should allow extra time for journaling, reflecting and reading.
This is a perfect opportunity for us to remember the little things we are grateful for that we usually overlook. Gratitude will go a long way in protecting our minds and guarding our thoughts.
While it might seem an overwhelming time full of uncertainty and trials, this is also an unprecedented time for those of us who want to focus on ourselves, our families and our well-being. Don’t let the headlines distract you from making the powerful and positive use of this very strange time… because before you know it, we’ll be back to the old routine. How exciting it will be to arrive at that point a stronger, more mindful person?