What a crazy and confusing time for all of us. Each of our stories are being impacted by this pandemic and we are all in need of focus and hope! I hope you are encouraged by this post and remember that you are not alone!!
I have devised a list of 9 ways to stay focused and hopeful during this pandemic that have helped me. I know all of them might not matter to your story specifically, but I encourage you to consider each one individually. There is a lot of information here so feel free to print it and keep it as a guide during this time. Please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or feedback. We are in this together. Here’s to growing forward WITH you!!
1.Self-care – Do what you need to do, not what others say you should, in order to live into your best self!! Sometimes it is as simple as showering, doing your hair or shaving. There is no right or wrong, just as long as it produces healthy results in your story. If you have ever traveled by plane, you have heard the flight attendant describe the use of the mask that will fall from the ceiling in case of an emergency. I like to use that visual as a for self-care. Because caring for yourself is like putting your oxygen mask on before putting it on another person. What do you need to live into your best self? What do you need to fill yourself with so you can pour out what is needed when the time comes?
“You can’t give what you don’t have” is a guide I sometimes use as I consider my needs. It isn’t selfish to care for yourself. This pandemic requires us to run the race as though it is a marathon and not a sprint. For those that are really struggling in this area, I encourage you to add one small thing each day and watch your energy change and grow forward. Keep a journal if you need to so you can see your progress and the impact your own self-care will have on others. Maybe ask a trusted friend to hold you accountable during this time so you can make it positive habit long after this crisis is over!!
By implementing self-care, you are putting a healthy boundary around yourself, and since “love protects”, you are loving and protecting yourself and showing value for who you are. Please take care of yourself…YOU MATTER!!
ACTION: Write down the following questions and take time to answer them for yourself. What do you need so you can live into your best self? How do you view self-care? How is it having an impact on your current situation?
2. Don’t borrow trouble from tomorrow – each day has enough trouble of its own. Learn to focus on today while planning ahead (if you can).
Obeying the “stay in place” rule is first thing!! It really will reduce the spread and show our children that we can obey even when it is difficult!
Shop for groceries as infrequently as you can and only buy things that you won’t be wasting.
Be creative with the meals you make and perhaps reduce your expectations on what you can afford to make while finances might be tight because of a job loss or furlough.
Surrender and dig deeper into your faith model to find the strength and patience you need during this time.
Consider who you are surrounding yourself with. Are they adding to the trouble you sense in your spirit or do they bring peace?
ACTION: Make note of some de-stressors you are currently implementing that are working for you and ones that aren’t working for you. What do you need to do differently to manage your time better?
3.Grow deeper in your faith – take time to explore your sense of connection to God and what He wants to grow in you during this time. Have faith, ask God to grow it to reflect Him more. Learn to become more of a “warrior” and less of a “worrier”. When we worry it is usually because we are experiencing a loss of control. When we choose to be warriors, we are living into our strengths.
ACTION: Make a written list of your weaknesses and ask God to help strengthen you in those areas. Perhaps you will be led to reach out to someone else to bolster your faith. Practice surrender (more frequently than you typically do). Discover your strengths and learn to live into them so you can strengthen your warrior side. Strength Finders 2.0 is a great resource to help you clarify your strengths.
4.Boundaries – learn your limits. What lines will you not cross? From arguing to enabling someone and everything in between. This is connected to self-care because as I said earlier, having healthy boundaries is a way we take care of our hearts and continue to foster other emotionally healthy patterns in our lives.
ACTION: Read up on the work that Henry Cloud does on Boundaries (he has a book by the same title and online resources). Connect with a counsellor or coach to get a better understanding of what kind of boundaries you have and how they are impacting your story. Listen to an episode I did on Boundaries.
5.This pandemic is GLOBAL – it is affecting the whole world! However, each person is living in their own narrative and has the potential to think this is only affecting them as a family, town, state, country. So how are you engaging the larger narrative? Here is a suggestion that has worked for me. I am hosting regular Zoom or Skype calls with friends in other countries and discuss how this is affecting them. Don’t know anyone that lives in another country? Then perhaps you know someone in your life who is from another country or can connect you so you can learn. A phrase I heard years ago that still rings true today is “a person wrapped up in themselves, makes for a very small package”. I have a phrase I often say, “Live your story”. I say it here with a little twist. Live your story and don’t forget theirs!!
ACTION: Go online and read some stories of how people are dealing with the pandemic in other countries. Consider financially supporting qualified causes that will help others. If you are a person of prayer, then pray for them after reading those stories. Start your own regular Zoom/Skype calls in your community.
6.Serve – we all have something we can offer someone else. There is a story that remains close to my heart when I think I have nothing to give. It is about the “widow who gave her last coin.” She gave all she had and was blessed beyond measure. I don’t have extra finances at this time, but I do have talents and skills and so do you!!
When we pour out what we have for the sake of another or we consider others better than ourselves, the return on investment is eternal! As a Transformational Coach, I have made time in my week to consider “who on the front lines of mental health needs encouragement today?” Last week I spoke with four therapists and not only thanked them for the work they are doing with increased attention to their clients amidst their own survival, but was also able to let them know I was standing with them in a personal and practical way. This didn’t involve money, but it involved heart. I have been guilty on focusing on what my heart isn’t getting so I chose to change that up and make it about what others needed. As a result, my heart got a gift I wasn’t expecting. I’m still not getting what I think my heart needs, but I am renewed in my belief that “it is better to give than to receive”.
ACTION: If you can sew, make masks. If you can give money, give. If you can bring food to someone, do so. If you can lend a listening ear weekly to another, be available. Whatever you choose to do, do it with all your heart and not because you feel obligated to in any way. It will be more rewarding. Change it up weekly if you need to so you can experience diversity in your own serving.
7.Learn to receive – we will all struggle at some point or another. Don’t feel shame, remember this is global and we all have our own stories amidst the bigger one! Food, finances, encouragement…companionship? Open your hands, lay down your shame/embarrassment and make room to receive. I would also like to encourage you to consider why you struggle to receive.
ACTION: Tell someone. Tell someone you are struggling emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially, or whatever. You will be amazed at the generosity of people!
8.Learn a new skill/hobby – I am learning how to make podcasts, build a YouTube channel and set up an online seminar. Talk about stretching!! What have you been passionate about and didn’t have time to learn? Got kids? Learn it with them if they are school age or older. It will change the narrative of their story as well. I am also learning how to communicate with my husband differently in this season…but that’s for my topic called “Marriage Matters” coming soon!!
ACTION: Do it. Don’t put it off till this is over…you won’t have time then!! Don’t want to learn a new skill/hobby then brush up on an old one that brought you great joy and fulfillment before this crisis hit.
9.H.A.L.T – this acronym stands for HUNGRY, ANGRY, LONELY, TIRED and what we need to use during this time that we are experiencing grief. If you are experiencing any of these or a combination of them, please respond to YOU. Don’t go to social media or bad habits as a knee jerk reaction but meet the needs that your body / heart is expressing.
Hungry – eat healthy foods so your brain gets the proper nutrients it needs to process all the information and situations thrown at you. Share with someone that you aren’t getting enough food for you or your family and they should be able to point you to resources or share what they have.
Angry – address the root / reason for it, don’t act on it even if it feels justified. Check with the other areas in the acronym to see if there is a correlation. Vent or process with a trusted friend or spouse, journal, pray, confess. Give the situation time to recover itself. Learn to respond and not react.
Lonely – stay OFF social media (a really tough one for me)! Although it gives a sense of community, it is fake and short lived. Seek out a trusted friend or tap into your faith to restore you. Remembering that “being alone is different than feeling lonely”. I have a deep need for authentic community and when I am going through a valley-like experience, such as being an extrovert who is NOT allowed to be physically in community with others, the feeling of loneliness are exacerbated through social media. In his book, “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry”, John Mark Comer says, “The average user touches his or her phone 2,617 times a day. “What would my life be like if God touched my mind as frequently as I touch my phone?”
Tired – this pandemic is a marathon not a sprint. It is exhausting in so many ways especially for those of us who don’t like to run marathons. From taking in news reports to wiping surfaces down and washing hands constantly and “what if’s” popping up on the daily. Please don’t pave your way to burnout. You are needed!! Get your rest mentally, emotionally, and physically as you can. I know we can get tired, but we can prevent burnout. Find out what restores you inside and out no matter how simple or trivial.
ACTION: Do what this says. HALT. STOP. Get help. Studies are showing that depression and anxiety are at an all time high. Not surprising at all. Learn to manage your grief. You matter. You are needed!!!
Here’s to Growing Forward Together!!
Thank you for joining me,