Wow! 2020 seems to be speeding by and the reasons for a bleak outlook seem to be piling up. As we move into the second quarter, I thought I’d devote some blog real estate to a topic that seems to keep coming up when I speak to friends and coworkers.
That feeling of “meh”. That state of being okay, but not great. It’s likely due to COVID-19 fears and the impact that has on everything else. We are face with the constant barrage of bad news and a cosmic misalignment so it is no wonder many people are expressing a feeling of general lassitude or existential ennui…even BEFORE the pandemic arrived.
All of that inspired me to think about ways to feel great and get your mindset in a positive place. Before the list, I have to state that I am a huge believer that happiness is a choice and that, while we cannot control the world around us, we can certainly control how we react to it. Here are some little things you can do to help right your world and feel better in general, even in the face of something as serious as COVID-19.
- Take a shower. It is amazing how the simple act of being clean makes everything better. If you feel stuck or frustrated, something as simple as the literal washing away of the day can work wonders to restore your positive outlook.
- Get your self-care scheduled. I loathe the expression of self-care, I think it feels indulgent but I do agree with the sentiment behind it. Like a shower, taking care of your health (mental and physical) goes a long way in righting your attitude. Be sure to eat healthy foods. Try to get some exercise, even if it is just low impact indoor exercise via YouTube. Set aside time to give yourself a simple manicure. No matter what it is, energy invested in personal care matters to your mindset and well-being.
- Accomplish little tasks. When you are feeling off-kilter or scattered, checking things off a to-do list can give us a sense of satisfaction and can act as an impetus for us to accomplish more. Consider setting little goals like making the bed, tidying the desk, unloading the dishwasher, or picking up the dry cleaning. Even little accomplishments make us feel better about ourselves. Even on the worst day, checking off something can be a massive victory!
- Focus on helping another. Volunteerism is wonderful but right now, it is not really that possible. That doesn’t mean you can’t make an impact. When we help others we get ourselves out of the often-dangerous spiral of negative self-thought. Focusing attention on helping someone else gives us purpose, social connection, and a reason to persevere. With most of us on recommended or enforced lock downs, doing things for others goes a long way to keeping up a positive mindset. Write a Thank You note to an unsung hero in your life. Use Zoom or other video conference tool to call a friend and let them vent. Consider finding a charity for which you can devote any free time. Check out VolunteerMatch.org for COVID-19 virtual volunteerism opportunities.
- Put on real clothes. With so many of us working at home, this is particularly relevant. When you stay in PJs or lounge wear too long, you begin to get sloppy in self and that can be a slippery slope. Putting on real clothes helps you get into a mental state of productivity and help with well-being. You don’t have to put on shoes, unless you want to, but a smart blouse or sweater and slacks or jeans make a world of difference. Ask yourself if you would feel comfortable if you opened your front door and your bosses boss was standing there. That is a good litmus test for what you are wearing at home. Keep in mind, this doesn’t apply to Sunday. I am a firm believer in staying in PJs one weekend day, if at all possible.
- Make a list of all the positives in your life. If you are feeling really stuck, get out your journal and write down all the positives in your life. This list should be long. Include things like your job, your safe home, your working car, your pets, your children, your health, your wardrobe, your ability to see/hear/walk/taste/feel, your friends, your family, the leaves on the tree, the birdsong, the warmth of the sun on a cold day, the first spring bloom, the freshness of a wind gust, and so on. See? There is a lot there. If you can’t come up with a single positive, write down your ability to think, to reason, to breath. Life may not be perfect but it sure beats the alternative.
- Write it down – then let it go. While you have your pen out, write down all the things that are upsetting you. Bad news, annoying people, failure of an idea, a breakup with a friend, or something else that is causing you to feel out of sorts. Write it down and then (HERE IS THE CHALLENGE) let it go. You have to focus on what you can change and not waste emotional energy on what you can’t. Writing it down is cathartic but after you’ve gotten it out, leave it there and move on. Acknowledge it, make a plan to remedy it, and move on.
- Take a walk. Unless you are restricted by your locale, anytime you get your blood pumping with a brisk walk, you give yourself a good dose of happy endorphins which make everything a bit brighter. On your walk, engage with the world around you, look at the sky, take note of what foliage you see, and smile at the people you see – just be sure to maintain appropriate social distance of 6 feet or more.
- Adopt a Stoic perspective. The philosophy of the Stoics (Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus, and others) is aligned to the good, the bad, and the indifferent and how we react to the world around us. Stoics knew that life is not guaranteed so it was important to live right, do good and not to worry about the future. This focus on the now is a critical element of feeling good about yourself. You have a plan, you have contingencies, now get busy living in the NOW. That may see hard in the present climate, but you can do that if you try. Celebrate even the little things, host a video chat with a group of friends, really focus on how great the first sip of coffee tastes as you look out the window on a sunny day…and then, you can let the reality of our new way of living sink in armed with the mental fortitude of the right mindset.
Remember, you are capable of anything and worthy of everything.
Stay home, stay healthy, be kind, and thanks for stopping by!