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Let me remind you that I write these articles for myself as much as I do to help someone in making decisions regarding self-development and self-care. I must admit that these are really challenging times for me and I become dragged down mentally and eventually physically, with all the difficult news from home and abroad.
The plan was to wait until I found my footing after reeling from the unexpected shock of quarantine, lockdown, and decreased income before I write an article about coping strategies in difficult times. However, I love when people join me on my self-care journeys, so join me as I practice what I preach. Together we will find and share some ways of coping with life’s difficulties now and going forward.
Tune out the bad news
Does anyone notice that many times when a message comes to your cell phone it is about how many people have contracted the virus, death tolls, supplies shortage, and anything else that will evoke fear and anxiety? It is extremely difficult to escape negative emotions when dealing with panic, fear, and worry on a daily basis. I am not saying we shouldn’t be concerned about ourselves and our loved ones here and overseas, but in all my years on this earth, I have never seen fear and anxiety fix any problems that I am faced with. In fact, author Vi Keeland quoted: “…worry does not stop death. It stops life.”
Certain positive things don’t usually get sent to my phone, so what I do is, I go searching for reports of recoveries from the virus and the many kind acts of people organizing care packages and other relief measures for the less fortunate. I also make every effort to contribute to any organization or person that helps the indigent in any way that I can. Another coping strategy is to seek out people to celebrate something with, as a pleasant distraction from the chaos. For instance, a friend of mine just started a new and hopefully exciting job. Another friend recently became a grandmother, and there were no complications at the hospital as we had feared. With physical and social distancing at the height of our concerns, we should call them up and draw the good vibes from the positive experiences they are having. So what are the ways in which you can help others and what do you have to celebrate?
Don’t fight fear
If you decide to get rid of fear, I can tell you that you are likely to be fighting a losing battle. I mentioned in one of my articles before (When faith seems small and distant, do it afraid), that sometimes while we wait on fear to leave in order to proceed with our plans, opportunities pass us by and the fear remains; therefore, do it afraid. Rather than fighting fear, I find that I focus more on how I respond to it. I find strategies to make fear become the least significant thought. Some people use meditation and conscious breathing to calm the mind and body. I have heard that this helps in making you aware of thoughts, instead of having them surprise you and throw you off guard. I use mindful praying. Panic is minimized and I say exactly what I am feeling, what I would like, what I expect, and say thanks for what God is about to do for me. I know there is no one right way to calm the mind in the midst of chaos, so focus on using whatever means that may be available to you.
Focus more on what you can control
There is not a lot that we can control during this time and our movements are restricted by national orders to stay at home. But rather than feeling like we are being forced to do something, think of it as the best way to protect yourself and your loved ones from a potentially deadly virus. A great way to reduce stress is to have a sense of control. Be more alert in keeping your hands out of your face, and do the necessary sanitization of hands and surfaces, as well as physical distancing as best as possible. Also, you have control over means of exercising and eating healthy foods to protect the body if you still contract the virus after all your efforts to avoid it. However, do not become obsessive about it as this could result in annoyance and resentment on your end or the people around you. I like the saying ‘do all you can and leave the rest to God.’
Concentrate on the resources you have
It may sound like I am repeating this a lot of times, but it is because I know it is totally true. Humans are extremely resilient and sometimes it is in looking back that we see that we made it through some really difficult times. In times like these, we can think about what we did and who helped us through it. Our greatest resources are mental mindsets and inner strengths or determination. For this time and going forward, just remind yourself that you are more resilient than you even realize.
Be innovative in meeting satisfaction needs
Almost everybody’s lives have dramatically changed quickly. Schools and colleges or universities are closed with students continuing their education virtually, and many persons either do not have any jobs or are working from home. Our regular means of entertainment may have been disrupted. Rather than forego your satisfaction needs, think of news ways to keep the mind entertained.
I know of persons, including myself, who are using this prolonged time at home to take on new projects, finishing up projects that have been languishing (like doing some editing on a second book), learning something new, honing a skill, and spending more time on a hobby (like writing self-development articles and starting a YouTube Channel). Others are learning creative ways to entertain children which eventually will make their lives easier during this time of quarantine.
You may use my strategies as a means to cope during this difficult time and for anything of a similar nature in the future, or you can find what works best for you. However, do not forget to keep the (virtual) connection with others. Instead of using technology to catch up on the latest not-so-good news, we could find creative ways to meet and greet online as we all need each other to help in self-care during this stressful time. Helen Keller, who was an advocate for the blind and deaf said: “…alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”