Winter’s persistent gloom – even as brief and mild as Southern California’s chilly season is – makes the coronavirus pandemic seem unending and insurmountable even as spring dawns.
Maintaining a positive frame of mind feels impossible. We face continued health, economic, family, and emotional challenges, all made more difficult as we isolate, which itself can lead to depression, substance abuse, and even suicidal thoughts.
Still, there’s a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. Restaurants, churches, and stores are opening. Once everyone is vaccinated, we look forward to a summer of family barbecues. There’s even travel on the horizon, as countries around the world successfully battle coronavirus.
Staying on Schedule
In facing the troubles wrought by COVID-19, health-care experts encourage us to maintain a consistent daily schedule of restful sleep, productive work hours, regular meditation and mindfulness breaks, steady movement and exercise, and dependable time off for family interaction, play with pets, and entertainment.
It’s helpful to integrate planning with positive thinking. Recalling bad times in our lives and remembering that we survived those challenges helps us to keep going.
It helps me to remember when I developed pneumonia as a newlywed. I was working a new and difficult job, we had very little money and inferior health insurance, so it was imperative that I recover quickly. In spite of a raft of different medications, I got sicker and sicker; getting from our bed to the living-room couch was a major accomplishment.
With grit and inner strength that I never knew I had, I somehow beat the odds and returned to work. That experience inspires me when I face seemingly insurmountable challenges: I recognize that my present difficulties won’t last forever.
Cultivating Mindfulness and Mental Health
Americans are world-renowned for our practicality, productivity, and industriousness. We are good at getting things done.
In doing so, however, we often ignore the bedrock foundation of good mental health and its critical importance to functioning well in the pandemic.
Getting coronavirus is not the end of the story, even if it means hospitalization, ventilators, and brain fog. To cultivate strong mental acuity, then, is to rely on our well-planned schedule while living a life of fruitful activity, nurturing relationships, and unwavering self-reliance.
In our mindfulness, we recognize experts such as Dr. Anthony S. Fauci [chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases] and follow their recommendations.
Living fully in the present moment forces us to smell the roses, literally and figuratively, taking time to breathe deeply and renew our focus on the here and now.
Positive Self-Care Eases Our Burdens
Being open about our feelings with trusted family members, friends, and spiritual advisors can lessen our fears and inspire hopefulness.
When we talk about what we are going through, the fear lessens and we begin to feel hopeful. In taking time for self-care, laughter, and myriad things that entertain us, we become more grateful, hopeful, and joyful.
While acknowledging our blessings, and the support of others, it’s critical to spend time caring for our physical beings. For me, that means an “Evening of Beauty,” including coloring my hair, head-to-toe cleansing and moisturizing, a relaxing facial, and a long, hot shower, perhaps followed by a luxurious, unrushed manicure/pedicure.
It may feel selfish to close the bedroom door, put on our favorite music, and indulge in the finest cologne, but those moments of connecting with our bodies center us. Encountering our physical selves can lead to more fruitfulness in our everyday lives, as we feel stronger and more confident.
The coronavirus pandemic is the optimal time to focus on ourselves. It there’s a reward in our isolation, it may be our renewed dedication to a healthy lifestyle.
Our family members each enjoy at least an hour of outdoor exercise each day (when the weather cooperates). I take a challenging walk of during my hour of solitude, and intersperse my mornings and evenings with yoga and Tai Chi. My husband uses a home gym in our garage, where bees and birds often fly in to visit, and our daughter takes an afternoon stroll in the sunshine.
Spiritual people correlate the concept of redemptive suffering – the idea that if we are bearing up to the crosses in our lives, we benefit from each uncomfortable moment.
This a cause for great hope: Our sacrifices – together with an ongoing commitment to exercise, unwavering focus on good nutrition, and dedication to excellent sleep hygiene – bear extraordinary fruit.
Developing a Positive Life Plan
Now that we are easing outside our homes, it’s essential to remain vigilant in our sound commitment to good mental and physical health.
Doing so means adhering to a reliable schedule, practicing positive self-care, cultivating mindfulness and good mental health, centering ourselves in prayer or meditation, and remaining consistent in rigorous movement and exercise.
Connecting with ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically helps us create and maintain solidly healthy lives. Afflictions like the pandemic force us to either develop endurance or admit defeat.
Surviving coronavirus proves our dedication, cultivates our character, and strengthens our resolve. Ultimately, that means we lead deeply fulfilling lives, inside and out.