Monday. It’s a day when our motivation can often be challenged. A new week can be filled with thoughts of anxiety or what if’s. But I’d venture to say that whatever negative events you may have imagined happening in your future, the Coronavirus pandemic was probably not one of them.
I’m not going to try and overlook the obvious way we are all feeling today. Yesterday’s announcement of at least 30 more days of social distancing and self-quarantine dropped like a thud didn’t it? It reminded me of times when you were almost at the end of something that you were looking forward to being over and then you heard, no, not quite. It’s more than disappointing, it’s downright deflating. And I think it’s important to acknowledge that you are feeling out of sorts even more than you normally would this Monday morning.
The current state of our world, replete as it is with quarantines, stay-at-home orders, closed businesses, lost projects, and social distancing leaves probably about 90% or more people feeling alone, uncertain and lost. And I know that for many of you who are living with a child or adult that is neurodiverse and potentially has a lot of trouble when routines are disrupted, this is even more overwhelming. You not only have your own mental health at hand, but theirs is being dramatically impacted as well. You can all begin to feel very alone, even surrounded by your family. And now, in this current situation, we are now handed an extra dose of them plus a whole lot more.
I am right there with you. Worried about my family that is spread far and wide in large cities. And today, while you are stuck at home, feeling stressed, lost, confused, terrified, alone, helpless or hopeless, sad, worried, or angry, I want to share some ideas about how you can turn that around, even on a bluer than normal blue Monday. I wrote these yesterday afternoon before the announcement, but as I read them again, I realize that they are even more worth your consideration. Because now you know that you have at least 30 days to work on one or two of them.
The Importance of Control in an Uncontrollable Time
Much of this situation is truly out of your control, but not all of it. I think it’s important that we remind ourselves every single day that it is possible to re-frame your current situation into an opportunity. Yes an opportunity, not a curse. An opportunity to do things you were never able to do because of time, stress, and all the life demand that you’ve always been juggling.
I believe you can and will survive the challenges of this pandemic. But I want to encourage you to do better than survive. I want you to keep on growing in surprising ways. I want you to thrive.
Not all of the ideas I’m going to offer below seem like they contribute to good mental health, but believe me, they are. Each has the potential to greatly impact your emotional health now, and also continue once this pandemic eases up. They will all return you to your regular life as an improved version of your current self. I want you to visualize looking back at the Spring of 2020 as one of the best times of your life. When you learned something new about yourself and started some great new adventures.
If you’ve been putting off organizing an area of your life, now is the time.
Clean the small spaces in your home. You know those little corners behind furniture, under furniture, window sills or the tops of windows and doors? Now is a great chance to attack those. You’ll feel so good about it.
Writing, no matter what kind you do taps into an expressive, thoughtful part of your inner self. Have you had an idea for a novel or a memoir? Is there a part of your life that you would like to remember? Some unprocessed painful memory? Write about it. Or even better, journal this experience so you can look back on it in the future and all the things you learned. Make a list of the strengths that got you through previous life setbacks. I know you have some. Being aware of them allows you to consciously call upon them when you need them.
Sharpen a music interest or talent.
Always wanted to learn the guitar or how to sing in tune? How about painting or drawing? Now’s your time to expand and rediscover yourself.
Read a challenging book.
This could be any book you’ve wanted to read but haven’t had the time or energy for. Make it filled with words you need a dictionary for and one that doubles as a weight to build your arm muscles.
Think of a goal that’s achievable now that could not have occurred to you in the pre-Covid world.
This might be anything positive and healthy. It could be hard, but I bet you’ll find one if you look and think about it.
Let your mind wander.
There is a great shortage of this simple pleasure in today’s world. Just sit. Ponder. Let your mind go. It’s good for you, I promise.
Find a way to help in person or online and offer to help them. Like gratitude, research shows that helping others makes a person happier.
These are just a few things that came to my mind. Maybe they’ll inspire you with some more thoughts. The point is, What feeds your self-respect, self-like and self-love more than watching yourself take the lemons the world is handing you and turn them into lemonade?
There is no stronger sign of emotional health than resilience. And growing yourself in any one of these impactful ways during a global crisis rife with setbacks is definitely a sign of just that.
So remember: You can use this painful time to improve yourself and become stronger for whatever your future holds. These days will pass, and how you look back on them is really up to you. And believe me, I’m saying this to myself every day too. Be well.