Your Journey through COVID-19
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, family, colleagues and friends as well as your counterparts around the world are all going through something similar.
So, it's important to remember:
“Victory will never be found by taking the path of least resistance” – Winston Churchill
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 10 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 families, creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normality.
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.
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 families - 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. Maybe by the end of this you'll be fitter or even be able to do 10 (or 100!) press-ups!
There are many options to boost your physical strength and health. Here are some ideas:
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.
Take up a yoga practice - excellent for strength-building, flexibility - and calm! There are lots of online options. Here is one with everything from 10 minutes for beginners to advanced practice. Sarah Beth Yoga on Youtube has more (free) yoga videos than I can count.
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
Use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained - like self-confidence, negotiation skills, 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 "The Now Habit" by Neil Fiore or "A Whack on the Side of the Head (How You Can Be More Creative)" by Roger Von Oech and "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink.
Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like "The Omnivore's Dilemma" by Michael Pollan (also available in a young reader's version), "Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures" by Carlo Petrini, "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America" by Barbara Ehrenreich, "Doughnut Economics" by Kate Raworth.
Get personally inspired with "Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts" and "The Gifts of Imperfection" by Brene Brown, or "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor E. Frankl.
Up-skill yourself with "Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most" by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.
Learn about the human mind with "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell or "The Whole Brain Child" by Daniel J. Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD.
Get healthier with "Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams" by Matthew Walker PhD.
Be more confident and discover your strengths with "The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance - What Women Should Know" by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman" or "Now, Discover Your Strengths (How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage)" by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton.
Finally, read a memoir! 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!
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 to 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!
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/family/friends are safe."
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6) 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. Here are some prompts to get started with:
Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.
One big thing I have learned during this crisis is _________.
I remember the last time I was stuck in the house _________.
One thing that's surprised me recently is _________.
Describe your ideal day _________.
You may find this How to Journal article from the IAJW (International Association for Journal Writing) helpful to get you started.
7) Be Kind!
Kindness, patience and compassion are one of the most powerful tools any of us have in our toolbox right now. Many of us are largely housebound, so, of course we're going to feel unpleasant and weird.
Use kindness to comfort yourself when afraid or feeling anxious or fidgety. 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!
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.
Imagine you have a kind, wise self. A part of you that is unflappable, intelligent and unconditionally loves ALL of you. Now, when you need it, imagine that kind, wise self is with you, supporting you, maybe giving you a hug - and saying exactly what you need to hear (not just the sugary stuff, but also the tough love and common sense).
8) Help Others
Helping others is empowering and makes us feel better. Here are a few ways you could help others.
Check in on a family member, neighbor or friend and see if they need anything. You can do this by phone, or in person, remembering to maintain social distance.
Offer to get someone groceries if you're going.
Help someone less technically savvy learn how to use technology to get online.
Host a virtual get-together with your regular friends.
Reconnect more deeply with friends or relatives who have moved away.
9) 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.
Need help in identifying or living your values? If you don't know your values, now is a great time to learn. Contact me to see how I can help you identify your values and motivations and help you start living them.
10) Begin a Meditation Practice
Meditation is a practice that has been proven scientifically to calm us, help us be more creative and be happier (for starters). It's extremely beneficial.
There is a lot to learn about meditation - and it's called a Meditation Practice for a reason. But it's also not as hard as it sounds. You can start with as little as 5 minutes a day - and it's good to build a routine, so you meditate at the same time every day. Get a book on "Meditation for Beginners" or go to Youtube or Google and search for "How to Meditate" or download the ‘Headspace’ app. Another good place to start is "Metta" or "Loving Kindness" meditation. Again, search online and you'll have lots of options to choose from.
It helps to have a quiet space without interruptions - which many of us don't have at the moment. And for some people, trying to meditate when anxious can be stressful. If this is the case, listen to a relaxing guided meditation instead. Another idea is to listen to a sleep meditation or "Body Scan Meditation" before going to sleep.
I have worked in many different crisis environments, from earthquakes to combat zones, and what I have learned is that positive emotions can help broaden and build our capacity to respond and engage constructively and creatively with a changed world.
So, which of the above ideas resonated with 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! Try a new journey!
Samantha Mathis, WABC, RCC, Founder/CEO Beyond Limits Consulting
Samantha brings more than 20 years’ experience developing and delivering leadership and management strategies and coaching and mentoring teams and individuals to achieve their goals. Her work includes the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, U.S. and U.K. military personnel and veterans, the United States Agency for International Development and the Natural Resources Defense Council. A veteran, she particularly enjoys helping transitioning military personnel to achieve equally successful careers outside of the military and has worked in many different environments leading multi-cultural teams in the Americas, Caribbean, Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. Samantha is a WABC RCC-certified corporate coach and is currently completing her doctorate in leadership and online learning communities.
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