by Justin Julson, CHWC
1.Track your daily routine. Our daily routines have been turned upside. Many of you are now working from home and many, if not all, of the events you had planned for this spring have been cancelled, because of the pandemic. With that said, you may find it helpful to start tracking your daily routine. Writing down what you do each day can help give you a sense of accomplishment and control in daily life.
2.Build self-efficacy and self-regulation. At times, it can be overwhelming to tackle big projects, especially when you’re having to do everything from home with limited resources. We make these projects more manageable by breaking them down into smaller tasks. By accomplishing these smaller, more manageable tasks we can build our confidence, and more importantly, trust in our ability to get things done (even new tasks). During difficult and stressful times we gravitate toward impulse decisions and instant gratification. If we can delay gratification and remind ourselves of the long-term benefits of waiting, we will make better decisions, and over time we will improve our ability to self-regulate.
3.Practice Gratitude. There is so much information flying around about what isn’t going well or what could go wrong. This information serves a purpose and keeps us informed, but it can begin to negatively affect our mood and mental health, if we’re not aware of it. A great way to re-focus and remind ourselves of everything that is going well is the practice of gratitude. We all have something to be grateful for. When we practice gratitude we tend to let go of what we’re lacking and redirect our attention toward we do have.
4.Practice Mindfulness. Mindfulness isn’t just a practice, but it’s a way of “being” in the world. Mindfulness is about being fully present while removing judgement. It’s accepting things just as they are. By being more aware we make better decisions for ourselves and everyone around us. One “simple” practice you can start incorporating throughout your day is deep belly breathing. By pausing, and focusing on our breath, we can calm our minds and our bodies. Our heart rate and blood pressure decreases, we bring ourselves out of the fight-flight-freeze response, and we promote healing.
5.Move your body and eat well. Our mood, immunity and overall health is directly impacted by how we hold our body and by what we put into our body. We don’t need a gym to move our bodies. You can go for walks outside or do a virtual workout in your home. Shoot for at least 30 to 60 total minutes of movement per day. Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy – you just have to be consistent. Walking alone can help improve your health and longevity. As far as food goes, eat as well as you can. I understand that many individuals are struggling with finances. Whether it’s fresh or from a box, try to pick foods that have minimal ingredients, and have been minimally processed.
6.Limit unnecessary screen time. Many of us look at a screen several hours per day. We also have fancy smart phones that constantly draw our attention. These gadgets are fun, useful, and in many cases, absolutely necessary, but do we need to be on them for all hours of the day (or night)? I’d say, probably not. Many times we use our computers or smart phones to “pass the time” without even realizing it. We could even be using it to avoid what needs to be done. Try not to use technology as a way to escape the present moment. It may provide comfort in the short-term, but over time it may increase anxiousness and worry. Make an effort to limit your screen time when you can and put your phone away. Get outside, go for a walk or sit quietly in your backyard. Don’t be disillusioned by “busyness.”
7.Have faith and hope. It can be difficult to think beyond the current state of affairs, but it’s healthy and beneficial to maintain hope. Ultimately, things will improve and we will adapt. Things may look different after all of this passes, but trust that things will shift for the better. Continue to remind yourself of what’s most important to you and keep your sights set on long-term goals and aspirations. Use your faith (spirituality, religion, nature etc..) as a way of create meaning, finding strength an
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d generating motivation during these difficult times. Everything is connected and we’re all in this together.