When the mood is as somber as it has been these past few weeks since the declaration of the pandemic, it is crucial to develop a positive outlook and a healthy mindset if we are to come out of this intact. Why? As much as this virus primarily attacks our respiratory system, the fight is both mental and physical.
A strong mind is one of the most powerful weapons we can wield at a time like this. And here are eight things we can do to help build our mental muscle.
- EXERCISE. Countless articles have been written about how exercise releases the happy hormones called endorphins. They can’t possibly be all wrong. So get up, and get going. Even 20 minutes of moderate exercise 3x a week is a good place to start.
- GET SOME SUN. Studies have shown that a decrease in sun exposure may cause a drop in Serotonin—the chemical that contributes to one’s sense of well-being and happiness. Anywhere from 15-20 minutes of exposure is recommended. Can’t go outside? Experts say even sitting by a window will suffice.
- DISTANCE YOURSELF PHYSICALLY, NOT SOCIALLY. The term “social distancing” actually refers to the physical distance you maintain in a social setting. Other than that, please reach out to family and friends online. A strong support group in trying times like these is as essential as oxygen is to daily life. We all need someone to rant to, laugh with, cry with, and laugh with again.
- FEED YOUR MIND HEALTHY STUFF. Just as we shouldn’t feed our bodies with junk, the same is true for our minds. A good serving of reality (or news) balanced with a very generous serving of good vibes should do the trick. We only need to watch enough news to be aware of what’s going on. Not stuff ourselves with it.
- BE KIND TO EVERYONE, OURSELVES INCLUDED. These are not normal times. So it’s okay to feel uneasy or a bit off. No need to judge ourselves (or anyone else, for that matter) for feeling that way. Know and accept that the days ahead are challenging, and we are all just trying to get by as best as we can. And that is enough.
- FOCUS ON THE NOW. It’s been said that thanks to the virus the days of the week have been cut down to three… yesterday, today, and tomorrow. With all the uncertainty, we can only live one day at a time. And that day is today. That moment is now. So focus on now, live it and make the most of it.
- FIND AN ANCHOR. When we find ourselves getting swept away by thoughts that run at breakneck speed to Worryville, we step on the brakes. Then we find something to help us anchor ourselves. This is where those breathing exercises or mantras come in handy.
- USE THE OFF SWITCH. For seven to eight hours each day, allow your brain to rest completely. Find a routine that will help you settle in for the night—meditation, drinking a cup of warm milk or tea, listening to music; and give your brain permission to unplug and reset.
If we mindfully practice these things (along with all the precautionary measures we’ve been told to take), there’s no reason we can’t make it to the other side safe. And sane.