When the going gets tough, it can be tough to get going. I recently talked to a friend who expressed how overwhelmed she was with feelings of uncertainty caused by the pandemic. Living day after day in limbo, and dealing with the chronic fear about the unknown — whether it is about health, jobs, school openings, or the future — can be tough. So how can we motivate ourselves and keep going? I asked several friends and colleagues how they were doing and found that many have found ways to cope and also thrive during this pandemic. These life-hacks are things we can all learn to do, pandemic notwithstanding. How are you coping and what’s your story?
- Explore art and creative expression. You don’t have to be a Picasso to be an artist or art lover. Whether you are creating it yourself or appreciating someone else’s work, art can be therapeutic. It is a well-recognized technique used to foster mental wellbeing and plays to the human need for creative expression. It allows you to be in touch with your emotions, provides relief from an overdrive of stress, and enhances self-esteem. Creative expression can take many forms, including writing, cooking, and gardening.
- Embrace the joy of small things. As the old cliche goes, stop and smell the roses. Never has it mattered more than it does now. Appreciating the sounds of birds chirping on a crisp sunny morning, the beautiful flowers in the garden, or a spectacular sunset all have a way of increasing your joy meter enough to take the edge off the uncertainty. Think about the gift of time to be able to stop and enjoy the small things in life.
- Appreciate the present. As New Age coach Deepak Chopra has said, the past is history and future is a mystery, but the present is a gift and that’s why it is called the present. Enjoy each day for the beauty it brings. Turn off the television, put away your cell phones and laptops and enjoy the company of your loved ones or your pet. Meditate if you can or do meditative activities, such as checking on your herbs and vegetables in your garden, cooking a meal, or listening to music.
- Take action on things you can control. We are living through a time when there are things that are completely out of our control. But there are many things we can control. Take the time to act on those. Clear out that closet you’ve been putting off. Organize the clutter on your desktop. Return phone calls. Getting things done and knowing you can take action can motivate you to accomplish even more.
- Keep hope and have faith that things will change. Hope in its simplest form is a vision for a better tomorrow. It means being optimistic and looking at the positive side of things, looking for silver linings. It is more than a goal or a passion. Hope motivates you to move and drives you to make the change. For some this can mean spirituality and faith and belief in a higher force that will let good prevail. For others it is a belief in the possibility that we can get through the obstacles to realize a better future.
The pandemic has everyone wondering what the future will be like, whether we will ever get back to normal, back to the way we were. For me, I know that I will never be able go to the way I was before the pandemic. Nor do I want to. We are forever changed but I do have hope that we will get through the pandemic and live a life in a society that is healthier and wiser.