Last week we were remembering a day, pre-COVID.
We had gone to the art museum with a couple of friends – there were a lot of people there during one of the free-admission days. We decided to enjoy a movie in the early afternoon, and we finished the day at one of our favorite restaurants. We then agreed that some of our outdoor opportunities have changed a bit now as the snow is accumulating on the mountains, but things are definitely looking up.
During these last couple of years of various isolation requirements, we were just inundated by changing levels of uncertainty, fear, anxiety and frustration. I think most all of us experienced similar emotions to some degree. As health care providers, one of our jobs is to comfort those who come to us with concerns about their health and that of their families and remind them of important perspectives, as we look out through the lenses of our lives, so we ask you please try to remember that isolation is always something we should seek to avoid if it’s occurring for long periods, especially in obviously adverse ways, and other than to rest and recuperate in order to heal our minds and our bodies.
But, concerning all those other emotions, it’s important to remember that they are not new – we’ve all dealt with anxiety and stress most of our lives, and, as we’ve discussed in previous videos, our bodies, minds and emotions are built to react to stress, counteract its negative effects and physiologically adapt to it, so we can get on with our lives.
But, why does it seem that during the COVID-19 crisis, many of us had a little more difficulty coping with the situation? To reframe this question and better solve the issue, it might be a good idea to ask ourselves how we dealt with stress before the coronavirus outbreak. Some of us went to the gym, some people enjoyed trying different restaurants with friends at the end of a stressful week at work, or you may have found it relaxing to meet with friends at your favorite coffee place, but then those venues were closed, opportunities were lost.
However, here we are on the other side of it, and we can see that we all had ways of dealing with, coping with, various stresses in our lives. And, as you’re all well aware, stress in modern society has always existed during all of our lives, and only changed somewhat during the past couple of years. Indeed, life stress will continue, possibly intensifying into the future. The world is changing every day.
So, How Do We Make the Best of Tough Times?
Here are a few practical techniques you can apply to living in in our current culture and circumstances:
● Accept and acknowledge the situation in which you are currently living. Don’t fight it. The sooner you embrace reality, the sooner you can adapt to it.
● Keep a routine. Our body naturally works better when operating on schedules and within routines. Try your best to wake up at the same time and go to bed at the same time every day. If your routines have been interrupted, or you have changed them, this is your opportunity to reestablish healthy routines, or create new ones. New ones may turn out to be better than the ones you had before, so keep an open mind.
● Stay in the present. Don’t wonder too much about the future. Remember, the future is
something that doesn’t exist, yet. We can try to predict it, but, so far, no one has really been able to tell us what’s going to happen next - just ask any weather forecaster. And, while the news on your favorite social media feed tends to show the worst of most situations, be confident that things usually work out, and a solution may be just around the corner. Hope is a beautiful thing. Humanity has overcome greater crises in the past. It’s far better to try your best to stay positive in the present.
● Continue staying active. Hopefully, your gym is open again. Most places have now opened their doors as before, except for a few government offices (no comment). Parks, greenways and golf courses are available with plenty of fresh air. Many studies demonstrate that walking over green grass and experiencing the natural environment in a more intimate way reduces anxiety and depression compared to walking over concrete or other surfaces or to being indoors. Maybe take some time to check out some online exercise and movement videos in order to help keep you active.
● Finish projects. Whether it is finishing that book you started last summer or completing a knitting project that’s been laying around for a while now or maybe getting your
house plants ready for the summer - this is a good time to finish things you may have been putting off. This will give you a positive sense of completion and productivity, giving you confidence moving forward.
Looking back, most of us weathered this latest healthcare crisis fairly well, and we are mostly getting back to our typical routines as effective vaccines were produced, and we developed immunity within our populations. So, please take some time to breathe deep and don’t forget to appreciate yourself, your moments, your life, your liberty, and our country and its people in a more profound way. Take some time to reevaluate who you are, what your gifts are and how to focus on making positive choices now that you’re all able to finally hit the ‘play’ button again.
Be well and take good care