For those of you who are reading this in April of 2020, you know that life is weird right now. Thanks to COVID-19 (the novel Coronavirus), most of the world is currently on lock down. Many of us are under orders to stay at home and avoid public places as much as possible.
It’s no surprise that we’re feeling bored, anxious, worried, and a slew of other negative emotions during this unprecedented time.
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Here are some tips for staying positive and keeping your sanity while you’re stuck at home!
Give Yourself Structure
It’s easy to stop wearing makeup, put on pajamas every day, and binge watch Netflix all the time, but that’s probably not best for your mental health.
I highly recommend creating a routine for yourself and sticking to it. Get dressed in the morning, put on makeup, do your hair, and stick to your meal plan and exercise routine.
You may think it doesn’t matter, but notice the difference in how you feel.
I’d also recommend that you make a list of things you’d like to do during the next few months while you’re at home. This will keep you organized and accountable.
I created a “stay-at-home” binder for myself that includes my meal plan, exercise plan, and a list of goals I’d like to achieve during this time. My plans are loosely based around the main eight life categories, which are:
These can be tweaked depending on your values, but it’s a good framework to start with. On my list, I noticed that the category with the most goals listed under it was “home” – no surprise there given the current circumstances!
When I look at my list, I feel energized and inspired…instead of bored and listless.
Find a New Hobby (or two…or three)
We can sit around complaining about how bored we are or we can find things to occupy our time. We spend so much of our lives busy and over-scheduled – we often rush around from event to event in a stressed daze. Why not use this time to finally slow down, pause, and reflect on what’s truly important to you?
You could learn a new skill, grow in your faith, spend more time with your family, or finally start that blog you’ve been thinking about for years.
I’m going to use the extra time to paint the entire upstairs level of our house (the trim and walls), learn to cook (one recipe per week), become a better gardener, teach our puppy new tricks, do an online Bible study, and make some big updates to this blog.
What have you been putting off forever that you finally have time to priortize?
Turn Off the News
Our brains naturally fixate on things that are alarming – we’re wired for survival, and your brain pays attention to anything that it perceives as a threat.
The news media knows this and they intentionally use fear to drive clicks. if you’re watching the news for hours every day and you’re constantly scrolling through article after article about COVID-19, it’s not a surprise that you feel worried or anxious.
I highly recommend reducing your news intake. if you want to “be informed”, maybe choose to watch the news for one hour per day or read news articles for 20 minutes per day. Then turn it off.
Balance this out with some positivity too – listen to an inspiring podcast, read a great book, listen to uplifting music, think about what you’re thankful for, or do something you enjoy. Don’t spend ALL of your time fixated on the negative.
Exercise is the best all-natural mood booster! It’s easy to let go of your exercise routine right now. Gyms are closed, mall walking certainly isn’t an option, and depending on where you live, the weather might be less than ideal for a walk or run around the neighborhood. As I type this, I’m watching a snowstorm through my window.
Thankfully, we live in a time when so much is available to us online. Watch an exercise video on YouTube or pop a yoga video in your DVD player. If you don’t have handheld weights, there are still plenty of exercises you can do with only your body – like squats, lunges, push ups, jumping jacks, planks, crunches, burpees, wall sits, and step ups, to name a few.
Accept Your Emotions
We can try to be more positive, but no one feels happy 100% of the time. Negative emotions are part of the human experience.
We’re never actually taught how to process our negative emotions, so many of us try to avoid our emotions by overeating, overdrinking, overspending, or engaging in other bad habits. This might be particularly tempting right now when we’re stuck at home and we don’t have much else to do.
The next time you feel anxious, worried, bored, frustrated, or any other negative emotion, don’t try to avoid your feelings with food, alcohol, social media, Netflix, or any other escape mechanism.
Simply notice the emotion and name it. Describe how it feels in your body. Recognize that emotions are harmless and that you don’t need to beat yourself up for having a negative emotion sometimes. No one feels happy all of the time.
If you’re struggling to stay positive during this time, that’s okay. Be kind to yourself. Beating yourself up will only make you more miserable!
Once you’ve identified whatever emotion you’re feeling, ask yourself what the thought is you’re thinking that’s causing this emotion.
If you’re feeling anxious, you might be thinking: “This shouldn’t be happening. This is really scary. I don’t know what’s going to happen. The economy is crumbling.”
If you try to immediately jump to a much more positive thought like “Everything will be fine and there’s no need to worry”, you probably won’t believe it – this is why affirmations don’t work!
Instead, try more neutral thoughts first, like:
- It is what it is.
- I don’t know what’s going to happen, but that’s okay. Uncertainty is part of life.
- I’m feeling anxious right now…and that’s okay.
- The economy has recovered in the past.
Over time, you can gradually shift from neutral thoughts to more positive ones.
Remember, feeling happy 100% of the time is not the goal.
No matter how well you manage your mind, you’ll still feel negative emotions sometimes, and that’s okay.
What is your favorite hobby that can be done at home? Share in the comments!
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