I used to be an avid runner. When I was in college, I’d run everywhere. I guess that’s the beauty of an open college campus with sidewalks that never end. I’m not really sure why I stopped running, other than learning to appreciate the comradery of group fitness, however with everything happening in the world lately, group anything, just isn’t an option. Over the last few weeks there has been this heaviness in my chest, and while I’ve debated, “Is this COVID-19 paying me a personal visit?” what I’ve realized is that this pandemic has a much bigger burden than just physical illness. So, in all fairness to my mental health, I decided to pause the research and lace up my running shoes.
Despite my favorite playlist blaring, the world was quiet. I saw folks fishing at the pond by themselves, others walked their dogs, a few flew kites with their family, while neighbors talked amongst themselves from their front lawns. I began to appreciate that despite the distance that has been wearing on all of us, we stand together.
There IS something beautiful about a shared struggle.
Even though the heaviness was still there thinking about all of my friends and colleagues on the front lines, everything else slowed down. I could appreciate the collective efforts being made to win this battle. So, while most have been inundated daily, with emails and news updates on our current global pandemic and as we, at Leaves of Life, have worked together to sort through the rapid developments and new information daily, today I felt the need to step away from the details of COVID-19, and focus on the effect that this has had on our mental health and well-being.
For most of us, life today looks much different than it did just a few weeks ago. There is an uncertainty that has left us all wondering what the next few weeks and months will hold. We’ve been asked to make changes that have never been asked of us before. We are a social species and this physical separateness seems very unnatural. For many, this change means homeschooling children and trying to balance multiple work schedules from home. (I for one have never been so appreciative of our teachers!) For others, that means working around the clock to serve in some capacity in this crisis, or perhaps leaving a job, without knowing when the next paycheck will come. No matter how this has affected our day to day, collectively we are all carrying the burden of these shifts in our economy, our healthcare, and certainly in our stress levels.
What I do know, is that despite what we are faced with, we are growing every day. We’re mobilizing resources in ways most of us have never imagined. We’re witnessing the most innovative movements in medical history. We’re being called to stand up or stay home, BOTH of which have a significant impact. There CAN be clarity in chaos. In all of this, it’s equality important to support one another in optimism, resiliency, and nourish our physical and mental health.
Follow along, as we offer ideas on how to keep calm and carry on, in these uncertain times, and remember, some of the best things in life are not canceled.
- Friends and family time: Stop looking at the calendar…soccer is still canceled! Put your phone down and embrace the quiet.
- Play a board game
- Write a hand-written letter to someone
- Plan a “movie-marathon” of oldies but goodies
- Plan a scavenger hunt for you family on your evening walk
- Create your own “talk show” or YouTube channel with your family
- Make a meal together or try out one of these healthy desert recipes
- Read a new book together
- Have a “camp-out” in your living room
- Do an impossible puzzle together
- Build a camp fire on a nice night
- Go for a family bike ride or hike
- Build a scrapbook together
- Plan and plant a garden together
- Togetherness: Even though we are all practicing physically distancing, we are still united in cause and can interact socially. So, put your nice shirt on and grab a glass of wine when you are camera ready.
- Get your zoom on with a virtual gathering (Zoom Cloud Meetings)
- Share your afternoon funnies or inspirational quotes on social media
- Kids can use Flip-grid (school) https://info.flipgrid.com or kids’ messenger to connect with one another
- Meet your friends at an empty parking lot and chat from your cars
- Organize a neighborhood event from your front yards; (for ex; every day there is a themed craft to display in your window)
- Write a letter of gratitude to Governor Mike DeWine, Dr. Amy Acton, Lt. Governor Husted or other first responders.
- Buy a gift card or even just a greeting card to thank a delivery team, janitor, waste management crew, grocery employee, etc.
- Share some of your favorite recipes with neighbors
- Chalk some inspirational driveway quotes
- Utilize deliveries or pickup and support local businesses
- Identify acts of heroism and heroes of optimism
- Have a positive start to your day
- Set short term goals
- Embrace creative outlets
- Start a gratitude journal. My favorite; https://www.amazon.com/Five-Minute-Journal-Happier-Minutes/dp/0991846206
- Add value and positivity to someone else’s life
- Move your large muscles
- Reframe your negative experience into a more positive one
- Cultivating Joy: We’re most joyful, when we’re helping others.
- Volunteer where you can
- Drop off groceries to an elderly neighbor
- Tell someone you love them
- Give someone a hug
- Commit a daily act of kindness
- Personal Growth
- Cooking and baking
- Listening to music
- Learning a new skill or language
- Mindfulness and Meditation
- Headspace, https://www.headspace.com
- Calm, https://www.calm.com/blog/free-resources
- Insight Timer, https://insighttimer.com
- Breathing exercises, or pranayama, https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-12936/3-reasons-everyone-should-try-alternate-nostril-breathing.html
- Guided Imagery, https://www.verywellmind.com/use-guided-imagery-for-relaxation-3144606
- Spiritual practice
I know these are challenging times and our days ahead will not always be taken with ease. I myself am not immune to this worry and at times have found myself tangled in the fog of this uncertain beast. We have to be forgiving. You will ponder, “How many days CAN I wear these sweats?” “Why is common core even a thing?” “Is it that hard to change the toilet paper roll?” To which I respond, “three days, just carry the one, and be lucky you even have it.” You will worry about bills, the health of a loved one, our essential workers, and on and on. But in those times, remember, we are in this together. If we do it right, getting back to normal will look different. We’ll rise up and do better. For now, hold your loved ones tight, embrace the quiet, share your gifts any chance you get, appreciate those who are working tirelessly in this fight, and maybe…lace up those running shoes.
In good health,