7 Tips for Choosing Joy during COVID-19

This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our ‘world’ would be confined to our homes!

This crisis is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is – and how much we need human connection!

Remember you are not alone. Because what is DIFFERENT here is that everyone is impacted! Your neighbor, mom, boss and friends as well as your counterparts around the world are all going through something similar.

With so many things going on you do not have control over, it’s important to remember:

Choose your attitude today.  It’s one thing you have complete control over.

This is the challenge each of us must rise to! If we’re going to be stuck at home, we may as well make the most of it.

7 Steps to Choosing Joy while Physically Isolated:

1) Create a Healthy, Supportive Routine

When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do at the moment), one EXTREMELY easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.

While we’re all stuck in anxiously waiting at home, it’s easy to lose our sense of time. Days can begin to blend into each other. A routine can give us an anchor and greater sense of control over our lives. And if you have children, creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normality.

This routine or schedule can be as simple as:

  • 8am – Wake-up
  • 8:30am – Breakfast
  • 10am – Declutter one closet/area
  • 11am – Talk to family/friends
  • 12.00pm – Lunch
  • 1-4pm – Learn a new skill through online courses or self-teaching
  • 5pm – Make & Eat Dinner
  • 7pm – Exercise
  • 8pm –Read/Journal/Knit/Crochet/Sew
  • 10pm – Bed

Be sure to include food preparation, social time, exercise and outdoor time and some learning or creativity so you get some benefit from this challenging time.

It’s also important to recognize weekends because it’s too easy for weeks to blur together. So, make a looser schedule for your weekends. For example, you could include:

  • Sleeping in/later bedtime
  • Brunch
  • “Treats”
  • Movie night with popcorn
  • Play a board game with others in the home
  • A virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues
  • A larger project, perhaps scrapbook or some art, knit/crochet/sewing/ craft, gardening or home redecoration.

So, create a routine for a sense of control and mastery over your environment and life circumstances. Reclaim what power you can over your own life, because with all this uncertainty it’s important for you – and especially important for children – to have predictability.

2) Gain a New Skill with Online Learning:

There are so many opportunities online to gain a new skill and they’re growing by the day!

Grow your personal or creative skills or choose a new skill to learn and take back to work with online training providers like Coursera or Udemy.

There are many other providers.

If there’s a skill you always wanted to learn, search for it. But be sure to read the course descriptions thoroughly, check reviews if there are any – and check money-back guarantees as you need to!

And with so many learning options ranging from FREE to tens of dollars to the low hundreds of dollars, there will be something out there just perfect for you.

New to the use of Zoom?  Check out my short training videos on the software here.

3) Be in the moment:

In THIS moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.

This tip is about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practicing BEING.

This is a PRACTICE – meaning you will have to do it over and over again – bringing yourself back to the NOW. Over time it gets easier, and it’s a great skill to have to take back to “normal” life.

When you start to notice you’re worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the “latest” is about the COVID situation, say to yourself, “It’s OK. In this moment, I am safe. In this moment I am OK.”  You can also add or say, “In this moment, my children/husband/family are safe.”

EXTRA TIP: Reduce or minimise how often you watch and read the news! And DON’T read or watch the news (or articles about COVID-19 or similar) just before bed!

4) Laugh

Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!

Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream – Endorphins (our natural “happy” drug) and Dopamine (part of our bodily “reward” system).

Netflix, Hulu and other streaming formats have so many watching options, so find something that makes you laugh!  What are your favorite comedy shows?  Is there a comedian you like?

IMPORTANT: We should NOT use over-use laughter as a distraction technique. And it shouldn’t be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where this isn’t much that any of us can do other than sit and wait – distraction can be a great coping mechanism.

5) Start a Journal!

If you’ve always wanted to journal, now is a good time to start. More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. It’s a great way to get to know you.

It’s great to choose a beautiful notebook, but the most important thing is to just get started. Here are some prompts to get started with:

  • Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.
  • One big thing I have learned during this crisis is _________.
  • I remember the last time I was stuck in the house _________.
  • One thing that’s surprised me recently is _________.
  • What matters most to me in life is _________.
  • Describe your ideal day _________.

“A journal is expressive by nature and it contains feelings, emotions, problems, ponderings and it is more reflective on the meaning of life being lived.” Lynda Monk

You may find this How to Journal article from the IAJW (International Association for Journal Writing) helpful to get you started.

Last year I started posting some weekly journal prompts on my website. If you are looking for something to write about, check them out here.

6) Help and Encourage Others

Helping others is empowering and makes us feel better. Here are a few ways you could help others.

  • Check in on a neighbour or friend and see if they need anything. You can do this by phone, or in person, remembering to maintain a 6 feet distance.
  • Offer to get someone groceries if you’re going.
  • Help someone less technically savvy learn how to use Zoom or WhatsApp or whatever they need to get online.
  • Host a virtual get-together with your regular friends.
  • Reconnect more deeply with friends or relatives who have moved away.

Send “real” snail mail cards and letters. Go old-fashioned. Who doesn’t love to receive a lovely card or handwritten letter in the post box! Rediscover the lost art of letter-writing and make someone’s day.  Yes, you could send an email appreciating someone, and that’s great. But imagine your recipient’s face as they pick up that hand-written card in the mailbox.

Wondering what to say? Write from the heart! Here are some ideas to get started:

  • I really appreciate having you in my life because ________.
  • I love hanging out with you when we ________.
  • I’ve realised that you bring ________ to my life.

7) De-Clutter

I bet you have some organizational things on your to-do list (like going through winter clothes, sorting out toys to donate or tidying the laundry closet, garage or shed) that have been on there for a while. Use this isolation period to get them done!

Getting organized and de-cluttering allows us to exert some control over our lives – and therefore feel less helpless! Plus, it willl feel amazing just to have it done.

Organize your closets, your garage, your books, your photos, office, kitchen equipment. Whatever needs organizing. Or perhaps you need to go through your receipts or file your taxes!

  • If you need some inspiration (and great clothes-folding tips) you could watch the Marie Kondo series on Netflix!

A simple 3 Step Method to go through your stuff:

  1. If you’re keeping it, be sure to DECIDE where it will “live” from now on.
  2. If you’re not keeping it, create two piles:
    • Things to DUMP
    • Things to DONATE (and if relevant to pass on to specific people).
  3. When you’re done, put each pile into bags or boxes, and then once this crisis is over you can get rid of what you no longer need.
  • TIP: You don’t need to do any of this ‘in one sitting’, do an hour a day – you’ll be surprised how much you get done if you keep it up for a week!

Wrap-up

Only you can control your attitude. It is possible to experience peace and joy, even in the midst of difficult times.  There is much you cannot control. This is something you can. It’s your choice.

Believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what – you’ll find a way.

This current and strange COVID-19 situation will end. When it does, you’ll be proud you chose to make the effort to learn something – whether it’s about yourself, fresh knowledge, a new skill – and who knows what else.

As a Certified Professional Life Coach, I empower women to overcome the lies of negative self-talk to that they may step into the truth of their worth.  As a speaker I address women’s groups on this subject.

I have authored two books as part of a “Knit and Crochet Bible Study devotional/journal” now available on Amazon.

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