It’s a time of uncertainty. COVID-19 spreading across the world is all we hear on the news, social media, and in family/friend conversations. We are bombarded by information on how to stay physically healthy during this pandemic. If I had a nickel for every time I heard the words, “cover your cough, don’t touch your face, or wash your hands for at least 20 seconds,” then I would have enough to buy a cheeseburger at McDonalds J. It’s clear that we need to stay 6 feet away from people while conversing and to only be in groups of two people. Our physical body is one part of our well-being but what about the other major part? Our mind. What is not clear is how we take care of our minds through this time of change and uncertainty. Your sole focus may be staying physically well with scheduled exercise and eating well. But you and I both know if your mind is full of worry and your body is flooded with anxiety, you may fall into unhealthy living and discouragement no matter how physically fit our body is.
Alongside our physical workout, we need to engage in mental workouts to have peace of mind during times of uncertainty. And by adding the three following mental workouts one may be led to a more complete sense of well-being.
#1 Be Grateful. Gratitude leads to happiness. Think about a time when you were happy. Did you experience gratitude as well? Did you feel gratitude for your friendships or close relationships? Gratitude doesn’t just accompany happiness, it leads to happiness. Take time today to write three goods things that recently happened to you. It’s difficult not to crack a smile when you think about good things that have happened to you. No matter what lemons you were given today, there are usually three things that you can say were good. Another impactful way to feel gratitude is to first think of a person from your past who did something nice for you and you didn’t adequately thank them. Take 5-10 minutes today and write them a letter, text, or Facebook message thanking them for helping you. Afterwards, notice how you feel. You may be pleasantly surprised.
#2 Be Mindful. The word ‘mindfulness’ sometimes gets a bad rap. Mindfulness is not meditation. Meditation is one way that can lead us to mindfulness, but it’s only one way. Mindfulness is being fully aware of what is happening in your life right now. Mindfulness leads to awareness of how you are feeling, how others are feeling, and precedes action. When you are focused on what you see, hear, smell, and feel right now, your mind is not thinking about the past nor worried about the future. Being fully present, in the here and now, is the key to feeling peace. Take three minutes right now and just note on a piece of paper or in your mind what you currently see (shapes, colors), what you hear (people talking, wind, birds), what you feel (feet on ground, shirt on shoulders, chest moving up and down). Just observe the items, don’t judge them. As you focus on your five senses at this moment, your mind will quite down.
#3 Be Intentful. Ever feel like life passes you by? Does time escape from you? This happens to everyone. It can be discouraging to think I just wasted my time by…(lying in bed), (watching 6 episodes of the Big Bang Theory), fill in the blank. Successful people achieve great things when they plan and do things intentionally. We break bad habits by intentionally planning to do something different the next time. We feel accomplishment by intentional completion of small tasks towards a bigger goal. Take time now to plan a few things you will do differently tonight or tomorrow. If you are working from home, intentionally plan to get up in the morning at the same time as you typical do on workdays, take a shower, and eat a healthy breakfast. Your body and mind will thank you for intentionally planning to start the day off right, even if you are staying at home. Progressive change does not happen without intently planning. Take care of your body and mind. COVID-19 will not last forever. Take this time to be grateful for what you have, be mindful of the things around you, and set the intent to make good change in your life.