The following are some practices that I recommend for coping and thriving during these challenging times. I started this list for myself as I struggled with the coronavirus outbreak. I am sharing it in case it is helpful to others.
Be kind to yourself. Imagine that you are a good friend that needs kindness and care. What would you tell that person? What would that person need most? Say and do those things for yourself.
Practice gratitude. Identify what you are grateful for. Share it with others. Put some of your focus on this every day.
Work on acceptance. Resisting what is creates suffering. Accept that much of what is going on is out of our control. We can still do what needs to be done without resisting reality.
Feel the emotions. Practice awareness of your own emotions. Name them to yourself. Allow yourself to really feel what you are feeling. Give the emotion its due, validate it as what is real for you. Only after allowing yourself to feel what you are feeling is it possible to let go of the fear, anger, or whatever else you are feeling.
Find optimism. Actively look for the bright side. What could come of this that might be good? Where does the hope live? What opportunities might arise? Focus some of your attention on this every day.
Reach out, connect. Talk about the feelings you are having with others. And talk about things that are not related to coronavirus. We need to process the world together and we need to have some “normal” conversations and connections. Try to use social media to connect positively rather than feeding negative emotions.
Breathe, meditate, practice calm. Find a few minutes each day (or more often) to breathe deeply and consciously, perhaps meditate a bit. Invite and welcome in a sense of peace and calm. There are some apps that can help with this (Calm, Headspace, etc). You can make this into a “Daily Practice” that can include reminding yourself of things that are important to you.
Focus on the present. Fear and other negative emotions live mostly in future and past thoughts. Focus your attention on the here and now. The current moment doesn’t carry any baggage. Allow yourself to just be with what is right now.
Find what grounds you. Much like the airplane instructions to put on your own oxygen mask first, figure out what that is for you. It might be some of these practices, it might be time with your dog/cat, pausing to listen to relaxing music, or something else. Expect that every day will bring new challenges and know that you can ground yourself and deal with them.
Develop (new) routines and structure. Many of our “normal” routines have been disrupted. Find and develop new ones. Structure and routines help us ground ourselves.
Limit news consumption. Consider only checking the news once per day, preferably not right before bed. Use reliable sources (Centers for Disease Control, World Health Organization, etc) rather than social media for news.
Watch out for “numbing out” behaviors. We all need a break sometimes, but keep an eye on behaviors you might be engaging in (drinking, screen time, etc) that, if excessive, can disrupt proper balance in your life.
Be kind, generous, and helpful with others. Often we help ourselves when we help others. It feeds the soul. We are all in this together.
Reassure yourself and others. Be reassuring without being dismissive as others express their feelings. We will get through this and, while you may have to go through significant challenges, this too will pass. It’s ok to tell yourself and others, “It’s going to be ok.”
Behave “as if.” Behave as if things are more normal than perhaps your brain believes. This can have a calming effect on the brain. Try to have conversations with people that are about regular stuff, not just the challenges we are all facing.
Life is now. Remind yourself that you are continuing to live your life now. You can hold both the perspective that we need to get through this and that we need to experience joy along the way.
Live your values. Consider how you want to be thought of when the challenging times are over. How do you want you or your organization to be remembered once life returns to “normal”?
Be intentional with your family. What do your kids need? What does your partner need? How do you want to support them?
Don’t sell, connect. Nobody wants to be sold right now. Instead, connect. See if you can help.
Plan and do appropriately. Set aside time to plan what needs to be done. Separate this time from doing tasks.
Remember the basics. Get enough sleep, eat well, physical activity/exercise, shower/hygiene, get some fresh air.
Ask for help. You don’t have to do it all alone. Asking for help is not a weakness, it’s a strength