Like pebbles thrown in a pond, the effects of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) have rippled across the globe with startling pace.
This pandemic has temporarily changed the nature of almost everything, from medicine to grocery shopping to sports to traditional education. It’s been a mind-boggling few days, and the ripples aren’t likely to slow anytime soon.
But that doesn’t mean we need to panic. This virus will eventually become a thing of the past, much like small pox, cholera, and the bubonic plague. The unfortunate news is that eradication takes time, and time is an open-ended concept, especially in regard to a cure. Time cannot be hurried, and it demands patience.
Patience is perhaps the hardest part of such a challenge. Our inability to see a decisive end can lead to feelings of despondence and hopelessness. It takes an emotional toll that can be potentially more taxing than the physical. But don’t worry—there are ways to minimize these feelings and maintain an upbeat outlook, even during the midst of a medical epidemic.
Try these proven strategies to promote optimism and lessen anxiety:
- Acknowledge your fears. We’re all scared, and that’s okay. Realize that the unknown is simply that—unknown. This means that the situation could be better than what experts have predicted. Don’t suppress your anxiety, but don’t dwell on it, either.
- Find the good. Good exists in all situations, but sometimes finding it requires an active search. Look for positivity in your surroundings. Keep a daily gratitude journal and refer to it often to improve your mindset and build hope for the future. As Willie Nelson once said, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”
- Consider the source. Use only trusted news sources for information. Recognize that sensational journalism is real, and not all outlets are reliable. Refer to your local news stations for information and sift through articles to find information relative to your community.
- Unplug. Take a break from all forms of technology. Ignore newscasts, podcasts, and broadcasts. Turn off all devices and do something that would typically bring you joy, preferably in the sun.
- Stay active. Run, walk, lift, or punch—anything to get you moving and raise your heartbeat. Exercise is proven to lead to a surge of endorphins, which trigger positive feelings. These endorphins can transform a pessimistic mood into a positive one. Add aerobic exercise and strength training to your weekly routine for maximum benefits.
- Sleep healthy. The more you exercise, the better you’ll sleep. The better you sleep, the better you’ll handle stress. Adequate sleep is a basic pillar of mental and physical health, so get the amount recommend by medical professionals for your age group. (Note: Most adults need 7 to 9 hours.)
- Eat well. Eating well means consuming a balanced diet—not eating your favorite junk in abundance. Try following The American Heart Association’s diet recommendations to establish habits that will benefit you now and in the future.
- Communicate with family and friends. Social distancing does not mean complete isolation. Keep in contact with family and friends through phone calls, emails, texts, FaceTime, and more. Check on your loved ones regularly and let them know that you’re thinking of them.
- Keep a routine. Don’t let chaos and uncertainty derail you from being productive. Write a to-do list and cross off each task as you accomplish it. Maintain a consistent schedule that includes regular sleep patterns, exercise, self-care routines, work hours, and more. Less disruption means more productivity.
- Practice good hygiene. WASH YOUR HANDS. WASH YOUR HANDS. WASH YOUR HANDS.
- Serve others. At this crazy time, may we strive to help others. May we find ourselves giving rather than taking. May we refuse to stockpile. And may we simply be kind. Mahatma Gandhi said it best—“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”