This month really has felt like it’s been about 100 days long. Having to “socially distance” ourselves and then being under a stay-at-home order for nearly a month (are we sure it hasn’t been a year?) are beginning to take a toll on just about everyone.
Even for the most introverted among us, having to stay home is wearing on our psyches, and on our relationships. We need to put in some extra effort to stay positive and healthy, both physically and mentally. 24/7 togetherness, especially when you add learning how to work remotely, and have school-at-home for your children, along with all the stresses and worries about illness and finances, takes its toll on even the best of us.
To help you feel better and relieve some stress, here are my 12 ways to stay positive in a crisis.
1. Filter your news.
We need to know what’s happening, but we don’t need all news, all the time. Pick just a couple of trusted sources. Stop reading about all the conspiracy theories, and social media posts from someone’s brother’s cousin’s friend’s neighbor that have more misinformation than information in them. Turn off the TV or video news for a while. You can get the same information in print—and remember, the news industry’s job isn’t to calm you. (BTW, the mainstream media isn’t lying and it’s not “fake news.” It’s just their spin on the headlines.) There’s an old saying in the industry, “if it bleeds, it leads,” and it still rings true today.
2. Get a little more sleep.
Go to bed earlier, get up later (if you can). Take a nap when you need to. Being well-rested is a stress reducer and it boosts your immune system. It’s much easier to stay positive when you aren’t exhausted.
3. Go for a walk.
Exercise and fresh air can help calm an agitated and stressed mind. In most areas, properly socially-distanced exercise does not violate a stay-at-home order. If walking isn’t your thing, go for a run, a bike ride, jump rope, have a personal dance party, or even do some yard work. I’ve found pulling weeds to be a great stress-reliever.
Hang out with your kids, your husband, or your housemates. Read books, play some games, cook something fun together, invite them to your personal dance party, learn a new skill together, have a porch picnic. Just spend some uninterrupted time together.
5. Eat healthy and take your vitamins.
But don’t feel bad about a little comfort food. Since you’re cooking at home anyway, make this an opportunity to eat fresh foods, and try healthier choices. Your blood pressure and your waistline will thank you when this is over. This doesn’t mean it’s not okay to eat your favorite comfort food—in moderation.
6. Avoid the grocery store if you can.
Order online and do the pickup lane—or have it delivered if that’s an option. Not having to look at bare shelves from panic buying, or worrying about which of your fellow shoppers might or might not be sick, will certainly lower your stress.
7. Meditate, pray, read scripture, or uplifting books and articles.
Whatever it is you do to feed your spirit, make a little extra time for that.
8. Connect with someone offline.
Whether you chat with your neighbor across the driveway (yes, you can still socialize from six feet apart), phone a family member you need to catch up with, or use video conferencing for a virtual get-together with your best friend, connect and talk with someone somewhere other than on social media. And for what it’s worth, Facebook Lives do not count as interactive personal connection.
9. Escape with some humor.
Watch a funny video or read a funny book. Tell silly jokes and find reasons to laugh. Finding enjoyment in every day life is one of the best ways to stay positive. And laughter really can be the best medicine, so allow yourself to do it regularly.
10. Allow yourself some “me” time.
Carve out some time for a long hot shower, a bubble bath, time alone in your room away from your housemates, spouse, children, parents, siblings, roommates, whatever. Even in times of social isolation, and staying at home, we need to be able to take a step back and have some time to ourselves. You may want to designate a certain period each day as “quiet time” where everyone finds their own space to decompress and spend some time apart. This can go a long way toward easing family tensions and stress.
11. Find a way to serve.
Make a donation to the local food bank, offer to pick something up at the store for a neighbor, send a thoughtful (snail-mail) note or card to a friend or family member, give a positive online review to a business you’ve worked with in the past, say thank-you to the clerk at the store. You get the idea. Serving always helps us to feel better and count our own blessings.
12. Practice gratitude.
At the end of every day, take a few minutes to review what was positive about your day. What did you accomplish? It doesn’t have to be big or grand. What are you thankful for today? Look around you and see what you can find to be grateful for. When we develop the habit of acknowledging and expressing gratitude, it changes us for the better.
So, those are just a few simple things. What are you doing to stay sane these days? What’s worked at your house to keep your spirits up and tensions low?
And by the way, if you’ve suddenly been dropped into the world of work-from-home, here are a few tips to help working from home a little easier too.
I’d love to hear your feedback and know how you’re getting along with all the craziness.