Right now, we are in a very unusual time. There is a global pandemic and it is causing problems on many, many levels. First and foremost is the health of people the world over.
Here in the U.S., we are probably having a variety of reactions to coronavirus. This might depend on the state in which we live, how many confirmed cases in our area, whether we live in an urban or rural community, access to medical care and numerous other factors. Our lives have been turned a bit upside down….we’ve been asked to work from home, to refrain from traveling, people have deposits down for spring break trips, the grocery stores are mobbed……everything feels up in the air. We are living day to day right now with our work, our errands, appointments, meetings, worship services, and on and on.
Essentially, we feel like things are out of control. And out of our control.
In my practice, people are certainly talking about their worries and about not knowing what the near term future will bring. Like later today. Or tomorrow. Or three months from now. I am not exempt from this and can identify with these concerns.
So I have been working with my clients – kids and adults – to focus on things they CAN CONTROL. By focusing on things we can control, it gives us a sense of….well…..control! And empowerment. And taking charge.
Here are some thoughts with regard to putting yourself in the driver’s seat.
Wash our hands as many times as we want to;
Take Vitamin C, which is still in stock at the grocery store;
Choose to stay at home. Or choose to go out. Many people are skipping things right now;
Choose not to shake hands, or hug or have touch contact with people. (I have been offering elbow bumps at my office.)
Find numerous projects at home that we have been putting off and dig in. That gives such a sense of accomplishment;
Pay attention to sleep patterns. Spray the pillow with some lavender, go to bed at the same time every night, practice good sleep hygiene. Sleep also keeps us healthy;
Call a friend to talk, if we don’t want to meet them in a restaurant. Or call a friend or relative who lives far away and catch up;
Read a book from that stack next to the bed;
Deep clean the kitchen, fold our t-shirts Marie Kondo style, or go through a closet;
Make a pot of vegetable or chicken soup, again, something healthy.
Decide to not watch the news so often, maybe limit it to once in the morning, once at night. And stop checking it on our phones. Now.
Go for a walk outside, because the weather is getting nicer, the days are longer, and we get benefits from sunshine and exercise. Really improves one’s mood;
If we feel worried or overwhelmed, we can use the coping strategies that we know work for us. We all have things that work for us…..play guitar, go for a walk, talk to a friend, do an exercise class on-line, take a few deep breaths, cook a nice meal, knit a scarf, color in a coloring book, go for a run or bike ride, shoot some baskets, do some mindful meditation with an app like Stop Breath & Think or Calm. Tune in with what works for you.
Here is my message…..take control over what you can take control over. You can’t control the world outside, the virus, the press coverage and the closures of various places. But there is plenty that you are in charge of. Focus on that for right now.
This goes for adults and children too. Help your kids feel empowered by reminding them to use their coping strategies. Do something with them like build a Lego tower, bake cookies, watch a movie, play a game, or read a book together.
These are unusual and trying times. So take it one day at a time and be in charge of what you can. And amidst this chaos, find a moment every day for which you feel grateful. Those moments are there too.