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I can’t believe I’m writing about a pandemic in 2020. At the time of this writing, millions of people have been diagnosed with the coronavirus and hundreds of thousands of others have died of it. We’re all grateful for government officials, scientists, doctors, and nurses all around the globe working around the clock to save lives and bringing the world back on track.
Practical measures such as face-covering, social distancing, stay-at-home orders, hand sanitizing are to be respected. They can help us limit the spread of the virus, protect ourselves, and those around us. However, very few of us actually know how to cope with this mentally.Fear of the unknown is perhaps the most critical problem we need to cope with during moments like this.
Following are five ways you can build mental strength, banish worry, and actually come out of this pandemic stronger than before:
1. This too shall pass
Here is a little phrase to remember when you are overpowered by fear: This too shall pass! Uttering these words in moments of despair and hopelessness will bring you an immediate sense of hope and relief. The human mind tends to magnify problems and blow them out proportion in moments of distress. It’s important to remind yourself that everything is temporary, and so are our woes. Pep yourself up, you are too strong to let the weeds of fear poison the beautiful roses of the garden of your mind.
Psychologist Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, and immunologist Ronald Glaser, of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, found in their research that spanned from 1982 to 1992, that fear can weaken the immune system thereby making us more susceptible to getting sick. Stay firm, follow the health guidelines suggested by health authorities and remind yourself every day: this too shall pass!
2. Invest in what matters the most yourself
Staying at home can be a catalyst for a myriad of disparaging thoughts, boredom, and procrastination. Instead of giving in to these negativities, take the time to rethink your priorities and invest in yourself. Things are already as bad as they are, it’s not wise to give them additional strength by mentally magnifying their effects.
What about that book you’ve always wanted to read? That diet plan you’ve been putting off? That new language you’ve wanted to learn? You may rationalize by saying that you will just wait for things to be better to start. The truth of the matter is, if you don’t start right now you are unlikely to start tomorrow. Things will get better and you will get back to your normal life and nothing gets done!
The point is, time is passing whether or not you decide to learn something. You might as well learn something and make the most of the time you have at your disposal. When it comes to time, you either use it or you lose it. Why not using it?
“There is no more profitable investment than investing in yourself. It is the best investment you can make; you can never go wrong with it. ― Roy T. Bennett
3. Help someone
One way to curb the negative impacts of the fear of uncertainty. Deep down, we have the need to contribute and make someone else’s life better. Helping others has been associated with an increase in happiness, lower blood pressure, and even longevity.
Sociologists found that people who volunteered 5.8 hours a week described themselves as “very happy.” Researchers purport that people rate themselves “very happy” because it makes them physically and socially active. It may also be associated with an increase of dopamine, a neurochemical in the brain, responsible for making us feel good. You don’t have to be in government to help; donating to a local charity, reaching out to a friend on social media could help. These may be small but they can make a world of difference in someone else’s life.
The negative pull of TV, our cozy bed, or other distractions at home can be detrimental to our productivity. Instead of giving in to these temptations, you can schedule your day as you would a normal working day. Plan your day and include time for exercise. A 12-minute workout session from Monday to Friday will go a long way in helping you stay fit and active.
Exercising will help boost your health, immune system, and above all your self-esteem. Why? Overcoming the negative pull of procrastination requires enormous discipline, determination, and willpower. Knowing that you’ve had the courage to start will increase your self-esteem which will, in turn, motivate you to continue. Well, you have nothing to lose and the world to gain, why not give it a try?
“I finally realized that being grateful to my body was key to giving more love to myself.” – Oprah Winfrey
Reading this subheading may get you the impression that I’m some sort of preacher, a maniac, or a combination thereof. I assure you, I’m not. I’m not preaching or trying to impose my religious beliefs onto you. No matter one’s religious creed, prayer can be a powerful tool in helping us navigate difficult times. Praying represents a manifestation of hope that we all need.
Hope that there is a better future ahead can represent an oasis of peace amidst the whirling sands of life. It’s for no reason that many psychiatrists turn to prayer because of its benefits in helping patients banish worry, anxiety, and fear. William James put it best: “a new zest for life.” Let’s pray and spread the hope that the world so desperately needs right now.
We may not be able to change these circumstances but we are able to change the way we cope with them. Don’t let the simplicity of these techniques fool you, they are as effective as they are simple. I hope you find them as helpful as I and many of my coaching clients have found them.
Please share your suggestions in the comments below. Also if you enjoyed the article please don’t forget to share it with your friends and family.