This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our 'world' would be confined to our homes!
This crisis is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is - and how much we need human connection!
Remember you are not alone. Because what is DIFFERENT here is that everyone is impacted! Your neighbor, mom, boss and friends as well as your counterparts around the world are all going through something similar.
So, it's important to remember:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. Viktor E. Frankl
This is the challenge each of us must rise to! If we're going to be stuck at home, we may as well make the most of it.
Here Are 12 Things You Can do to Make Your Life Better while Physically Isolated:
1) Create a Healthy, Supportive Routine
When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do at the moment), one EXTREMELY easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.
While we're all stuck in anxiously waiting at home, it's easy to lose our sense of time. Days can begin to blend into each other. A routine can give us an anchor and greater sense of control over our lives. And if you have children, creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normality.
This routine or schedule can be as simple as:
7am - Wake-up
8am - Breakfast
10am - Exercise
11am - Talk to friends
12.00pm - Lunch
1-4pm - Learning or a home project
5pm - Make & Eat Dinner
7pm - Talk to close family
8pm - Reading, Journaling
10pm - Bed
Be sure to include food preparation, social time, exercise and outdoor time and some learning or creativity so you get some benefit from this challenging time.
It's also important to recognize weekends because it's too easy for weeks to blur together. So, make a looser schedule for your weekends. For example, you could include:
Sleeping in/later bedtime
Movie night with popcorn
A virtual connect time with friends or colleagues
A larger project, perhaps some art, craft, gardening or home redecoration.
So, create a routine for a sense of control and mastery over your environment and life circumstances. Reclaim what power you can over your own life, because with all this uncertainty it's important for you - and especially important for children - to have predictability.
2) Build Your Physical Strength, Fitness Levels or Flexibility!
Building your physical strength is powerful and health-boosting! Not only is physical strength and flexibility life-affirming and good for our health, but feeling more physically powerful actually helps us feel more empowered and less helpless in life too!
So add some physical activity into your schedule - as little as 15 minutes daily. Getting outside and walking is so refreshing to the soul! Connect with an accountability partner to stay motivated or get a health coach.
There are many options to boost your physical strength and health. Here are some ideas:
Take up yoga or pilates or barre - excellent for strength-building, flexibility - and calm! There are lots of online options. Here is one with everything from 10 minutes for beginners to an advanced practice. Sarah Beth Yoga on Youtube
There are so many online fitness classes on Youtube - for beginners, experts - with equipment and also with no equipment whatsoever. PopSugar Fitness has many options to choose from.https://www.revelationwellness.org/workout/
What are some of your favorites?
REMEMBER: BEing stronger = FEELING stronger and more in control! And building your PHYSICAL strength or fitness = REDUCED feelings of helplessness!
3) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:
Fiction offers a wonderful escape and is a great alternative to binge watching TV or spending too much time on social media or watching the news. You could also use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained - like self-confidence, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations and much more.
What keeps you up at night? There's probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There's probably a book about that too!
Here are some book ideas to get you thinking:
Be more productive or creative with books about creative things you’ve always wanted to try with art, cooking, your own essential oil and body care recipes, gardening.
Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like “Get out of Your Head: Stopping the Spiral of Toxic Thoughts” by Jennie Allen “BOOMERangs Retirement Life Planning Self-Coaching Workbook” by Jans, Jeffrey “Think Differently Live Differently: Keys to a Life of Freedom” by Bob Hamp “Boundaries for Your Soul: How to Turn Your Overwhelming Thoughts and Feelings into Your Greatest Allies” by Alison Cook and Kimberly Miller
Get personally inspired with “Made for This: 40 Days to Living Your Purpose” by Jennie Allen and "Divine Direction: 7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life” by Craig Groeschel “Fully Alive” by Susie Larson https://www.facebook.com/deeperlifeinchrist/
Up-skill yourself with free courses offered online like Coursera or Udemy.
Learn a new language or plan your next travel adventure
Get healthier with “Full: Food, Jesus, and the Battle for Satisfaction” by Asheritah Ciuciu
Be more confident and discover your strengths with ”StrengthsFinder 2.0” by Rath and DeVries or “Stengths Based Marriage: Build a Stronger Relationship by Understanding Each Other’s Gifts” by Evans, Kelsey.
Finally, read memoirs! Choose someone you admire, get inspired and learn how other people think - and live their lives.
Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills - and maybe even make you more employable too! If you would rather listen while you do other things, try https://www.audible.com/ep/HP2
4) Explore your Life Vision:
Rather than watching endless news streams, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture - your future. What do you want from the rest of your life? What would you be disappointed you did NOT do? Where do you envision yourself in 10 years?
Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work towards our goals, take action and make change. Soon, we'll all be super-busy again - and a vision might be just what you need stay focused!
Here are 5 questions to ponder or journal around to go deeper:
What do you desire or yearn for in your life?
How do you want to feel?
What do you really, really want to be different in your life?
What would have happened in 3 years time such that your life is spectacular and you feel magnificent about yourself?
What's your dream for this lifetime? Imagine you're 90 years old and looking back over your life; what did you do that made you proud and happy?
TIP: Remember to think possibility not probability! Don't limit yourself and your ideas because you don't believe something is likely. Instead believe it's possible - and even if you don't get all the way there, you may get close - or even find something better along the way!
If you’d like some help with creating a vision for your life contact me at: email@example.com
5) Be in the moment:
In THIS moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.
This tip is about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practicing BEING.
This is a PRACTICE - meaning you will have to do it over and over again - bringing yourself back to the NOW. Over time it gets easier, and it's a great skill to have to take back to "normal" life.
So when you notice you're worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the "latest" is about the COVID situation, say to yourself, "It's OK. In this moment, I am safe. In this moment I am OK." You can also add or say, "In this moment, my children/husband/family are safe."
EXTRA TIP: Reduce or minimize how often you watch and read the news! And DON'T read or watch the news (or articles about COVID-19 or similar) just before bed!
Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!
Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream - Endorphins (our natural "happy" drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily "reward" system).
What are your favorite comedy shows?
YouTube and online we have so many options to find something that makes you laugh!
IMPORTANT: We should NOT use over-use laughter as a distraction technique. And it shouldn't be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where this isn't much that any of us can do other than sit and wait - distraction can be a great coping mechanism.
7) Start a Journal!
If you've always wanted to journal, now is a good time to start. More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. It's a great way to get to know you. It also Develops mindfulness which helps you reduce stress and allows you to see positive and interesting perspectives on your situation.
It's great to choose a beautiful notebook, but the most important thing is to just get started. Here are some prompts to get started with:
Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.
Today I am thankful for______________.
One big thing I have learned during this crisis is _________.
A verse I want to remember from my Bible reading is _________.
One thing that's surprised me recently is _________.
What matters most to me in life is _________.
Describe your ideal day _________.
"A journal is expressive by nature and it contains feelings, emotions, problems, ponderings and it is more reflective on the meaning of life being lived." Lynda Monk
You may find this How to Journal article from the IAJW (International Association for Journal Writing) helpful to get you started.
Developing mindfulness helps you reduce stress and allows you to see positive and interesting perspectives on your situation.
8) Be Kind!
Kindness and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are largely housebound, never mind the fear that you or a loved on might actually catch the COVID virus! So, of course we're going to feel unpleasant and weird.
Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. Be curious about the hard emotions and what they are telling you. Be gentle. Imagine you're soothing a friend, small child or animal who is afraid - what would you say to them? Then say that to yourself! Thank yourself and others when you notice good qualities.
Use kindness to give yourself - and others - the benefit or the doubt. Instead of getting upset when you see other people behaving badly, remember that we all do silly things when we're scared. Extend grace and love and forgiveness to yourself and others.
9) Help Others
Helping others is empowering and makes us feel better. Here are a few ways you could help others.
Check in on a neighbor or friend and see if they need anything. You can do this by phone, or in person, remembering to maintain a 6 feet distance.
Offer to get someone groceries if you're going.
Help someone less technically savvy learn how to use Zoom or WhatsApp or whatever they need to get online.
Host a virtual get-together with your regular friends.
Reconnect more deeply with friends or relatives who have moved away.
Send “Real” Snail Mail Letters or Cards
Wondering what to say? Write from the heart! Here are some ideas to get started:
I really appreciate having you in my life because ________.
I love hanging out with you when we ________.
I've realised that you bring ________ to my life.
10) Live Your Values
When we know your values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a life that is meaningful. Finally, when we align our actions with our values - we're being truly authentic. It's a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live.
And living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.
Here's an exercise you can do:
List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.
Give each value a score ___ / 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is full-out).
For the scores that are 8 or more - great!
For the scores that are 7 or less out of 10, ask yourself, "How could I express this value more in my life right now?" "What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?"
For example: You have a value of creativity, but you're only managing to 'go through the motions' right now and your score is 4/10. Ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time - whether it's cooking, gardening, art or writing or helping your kids do something creative, or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire...
If you don’t know your values, now is a great time to learn. We offer values coaching. Just contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I bet you have some organizational things on your to-do list (like going through winter clothes, sorting out toys to donate or tidying the laundry closet, garage or shed) that have been on there for a while. Use this isolation period to get them done!
Getting organized and de-cluttering allows us to exert some control over our lives - and therefore feel less helpless! Plus it'll feel amazing just to have it done.
Organize your closets, your garage, your books, your photos, office, kitchen equipment. Whatever needs organizing. Or perhaps you need to go through your receipts or file your taxes!
If you need some inspiration (and great clothes-folding tips) you could watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix!
A simple 3 Step Method to go through your stuff:
If you're keeping it, be sure to DECIDE where it will "live" from now on.
If you're not keeping it, create two piles:
Things to DUMP
Things to DONATE (and if relevant to pass on to specific people).
When you're done, put each pile into bags or boxes, and then once this crisis is over you can get rid of what you no longer need.
TIP: You don't need to do any of this 'in one sitting', do an hour a day - you'll be surprised how much you get done if you keep it up for a week!
12) Grow Something - Or Get an Indoor Flowering Plant!
There is nothing quite like growing something - whether it's flowers, fruits or vegetables that makes us feel good! Even if you live in an apartment and you could grow fresh herbs on your windowsill or balcony to cook with!
Get some seeds, (a pot and some soil if needed) and get started.
Many plant nurseries are still open, or you could order seeds etc. online.
Follow the instructions - and remember to water it!
If growing something is just too much work, get yourself a spring bulb or succulent (cacti) planter, or you could get an indoor plant like a Spathiphyllum* (Peace Lily) is good for cleaning the air of pollutants (and easy to take care of).
* Be aware that some plants are poisonous to pets - so please check.
(Idea adapted from https://www.thecoachingtoolscompany.com)
So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? Focusing on what is in your control and living intentionally will help you believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what - you'll find a way.
This current and strange COVID-19 situation will end. And when it does, you'll be proud you made the effort to learn something - whether it's about yourself, fresh knowledge, a new skill - and who knows what else!
Remember that GOD IS IN CONTROL and we can trust Him. How is your FAITH growing?
Remember you are not alone.
If you want some help navigating life we are here for you!