5 ways to stay calm in troubled times. Take these steps to keep yourself sane while the world is scary

We’re living through a scary time. No matter where you turn, talk and news about the coronavirus follows you.

Those of us who are chronically ill and disabled are that much more vulnerable. We have to face all kinds of fears and anxieties—and our lives were hard enough before.

At the same time, we need to take care of ourselves. Worrying doesn’t change or fix what’s going on. It just makes us more miserable.

Of course you should be vigilant about keeping yourself as safe as possible. But remember, we can’t predict what’s going to happen, ever. That’s life.

It’s a good time to remind yourself, you’re stronger than most people. You’ve faced down demons others can’t imagine.

Here are five ways to find peace, serenity and meaning during these stressful times:

  1. Give yourself permission to do nothing. With business as usual slowing, you have the chance to let things go. Dance in your PJs, play with your cat or dog, binge watch something fun on Netflix, whatever floats your boat. I’ve been inspired by wonderful disabled British actress Liz Carr and her wife Jo, who have posted videos such as the one below.
  1. Limit your time on social. I know, I know. We want to stay updated. And connecting with others feels like the right thing to do at a time like this. But it can feed your anxiety—and ironically, make you feel more isolated. So give yourself a time limit. I recommend an hour a day, give or take, depending on how you’re feeling. As much as possible, mix news/commentary with funny and uplifting stuff. And if you want to connect with others, pick up the phone. Really!
Photo by chepté cormani on Pexels.com
  1. Take up a new hobby, or get into one you already have. This is a great time to do something fun that takes your mind off the news. Knitting, sewing (maybe make some masks for healthcare workers—the video below shows you how), baking, and gardening are all good choices. If you’re not able to do these types of activities, crosswords and reading are good alternatives. You can also tour museums from the comfort of your living room, or take Ivy League courses online for free. Whatever it is, make sure it’s enjoyable and relaxing.
  1. Create something. If you’ve got time on your hands, this is a golden opportunity to do what you’ve always dreamed of but couldn’t fit in your schedule. It could be writing the great American novel, developing a new business idea, becoming a TED speaker, or something else. If you’ve always wanted to do something for the world or your local community, there couldn’t be a better time for it. That said, don’t pressure yourself. If doing this ends up being another heavy “to do” list item that stresses you out, hold off.
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  1. Spend time with the people you love. If you’re all together under one roof, make time to be together—talking, eating, watching movies, whatever. If you’re spread out, get on the phone or FaceTime with them. Try to talk about stuff that’s enjoyable or meaningful, rather than the news and/or virus. The video below shows how one care facility came up with a creative way to keep family members connected.

Here’s something that came into my inbox today from blogger Shane Parrish. It sums up what many of us have been thinking, feeling and doing:

We’ve aged a generation in the past three weeks.

What matters has sharply come into focus. Family matters. Love matters. Kindness matters. Health matters. Generosity matters. People matter. Community matters. The rest is just noise.

Aside from physical distancing, the biggest thing you can right now is choose to see the best in each other. Be kind. Be patient. Be tolerant. Be quick to help out in any way you can. Be forgiving when you would otherwise be upset. See things through the eyes of others and try to understand where they are coming from. Seek out opportunities for generosity. Reconnect with your community. Reconnect with yourself. Reconnect with your priorities. Live them.

We’re all in this together.

Top photo by Lorraine Goh on Unsplash

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