How are you doing right now? The answer for us has changed often over the past couple of weeks, sometimes moment to moment. We’ve been experimenting with ways to keep ourselves calm and connected during the coronavirus quarantine, and we’ve collected them here for you. Share your own coping strategies with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re all in this together.
1. Spread Calm
Ask yourself, as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it, “Am I adding to the panic or stress of others, or am I being a calming influence?”
- Practice mindfulness and gratitude. Write down three good things from your day (research shows it can rewire your brain for optimism!)
- Self-soothe when stressed. Try a breathing and centering practice, like the 54321 technique or box breathing.
- Think before you post. Make sure when you post on social media that it’s from a good source and has level-headed framing.
2. Create Structure
We’re still working on this, and that’s OK! See #3. Think of yourself as a scientist, experimenting and optimizing every day.
- For kids, this is a balance of school, play, screens, and really whatever it takes to get through the day. Through trial and error, see what works best for your family.
- For grown ups, this may mean scheduling time for work, physical and mental health, fun projects, reading, and vegging out.
3. Give Grace & Space
Remember that people cope in different ways.
- Try to be compassionate and turn toward instead of away (see John Gottman’s extensive research on building strong relationships). We’re all doing the best we can under unusual circumstances.
- Take space when you need it. Go to a different part of the house or get some fresh air outside, if possible.
4. Use Coping Outlets
As a wise friend of ours says, “That energy has to go somewhere.” We need pressure release valves for anxiety and stress.
- Exercise! Dance in your living room, stream workouts, run the stairs in your building, walk around the block if you can.
- Process your feelings. Journal, make art, or do something hands-on.
- Clean or declutter your space and keep it tidy. We love the book Outer Order, Inner Calm – and its premise holds true.
5. Stay Connected
Humans are social creatures, and extroverts especially need to connect with other people regularly.
- Spend quality time with your family and work through any squabbles. You’ll be sharing space for a while, so work things out!
- Connect with your loved ones remotely through text, phone, email or video chat. Get creative about spending quality time through virtual dinner parties, happy hours, hangouts, or book clubs.
Practices and Resources We’re Using
- Reset and start over – as many times a day as needed when frustration, anxiety, or stress build up. Close your eyes and do a physical action, like putting your hands over your heart or pressing them together while saying, “Reset.” You can even draw a big red button and press it.
- I highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert’s free talk called Facing Fear with Compassion, about being kind to yourself when you’re afraid, without judgment or shame. She has such an accepting, loving, and calming presence that I’ve listened a couple of times. Download the Insight Timer app and search for her name.
- If you have kids, connect with other families in whatever way makes sense for you
- If your kids can read and write, arrange for them to be pen pals through handwritten letters or email.
- You may join with another family or two to quarantine or educate together.
- Go easy on yourself and others. Practice compassion and self-compassion more now than ever because everyone is dealing with a lot. For me, this means not expecting maximum productivity right now.
- The Headspace app is opening a free section available to everyone for the next few months. It’s called Weathering the Storm and includes meditation, sleep, and movement exercises
- Streaming Zumba classes every morning has been a huge mood booster for me, while I can’t go to the gym or go for a walk.
- Melia and I love Ysel Gonzalez (who lives in Girona, not far from Barcelona)
- My awesome sister-in-law Meg is a Zumba instructor and has been doing classes on Zoom (mornings Pacific time, donations appreciated). Timing hasn’t worked out for me to do one yet, but I really want to!
- There are a lot of free educational resources going around, and this one from Audible looks awesome. Free audiobooks and stories in six languages for kids and teens (including some that appeal to adults)!
Tell us how you’re doing, and how you’re coping, at email@example.com.
Image: Kari Shea