It’s the understatement of the century to say March 2020 threw us all for a loop. Several loops. Repeatedly. As we settle into “the new normal” (whatever that means) of April and beyond, our daily lives are still pretty wonky. The kiddos are home, work is crazy, and simple tasks like gathering food and supplies for our families have become real adventures. Who knew chicken and toilet paper were going to be harder to find than hen’s teeth?! And I’m actually afraid to go to the bank. I need to, but you know, when you stroll into a bank wearing a mask it normally doesn’t go down well… Anyway, we’re all struggling to stay grounded during this crisis and come out on the other side sane, healthy and maybe a little bit better for it.
How are You Currently Doing?
Some of us naturally do well in times of trouble, some of us don’t, and some of us don’t have a choice. If you’re an essential worker, you get out there every day and serve on the front lines, keeping things as safe and as normal as possible for the rest of us. Your days have purpose, meaning and focus, and we are all deeply grateful for you doing what you do. However, those of us left sheltering at home have to find ways to keep focused, positive and moving forward.
Some of my friends are doing really well in this crisis. Some of them are struggling. I think most of us are floating back and forth between those two choices. I’ve heard from so many people who are overeating, overdrinking, obsessively watching the news and getting really upset, sleeping too much, zoning out for hours on tv, giving up on getting dressed and “prettied up”, and in general drifting from day to day with no focus, no plan and therefore, no peace.
Does any of that sound familiar?
While those “comforting behaviors” are natural reactions to stress and anxiety, they are not helpful in the long run. In fact, those behaviors can become harmful – mentally, spiritually and physically. As we say around here, “we can do better.” By doing 5 simple things, we can keep ourselves grounded and healthy – mentally, physically and spiritually. These are 5 things I’ve been doing every day to help me stay grounded in “normal” during this time of crisis and ready to get back to “real life” in a good place. They’ve helped me stay positive, productive, and pleasant to shelter in place with. 😉 I think they can help you, too.
Ready to dive in?
Five Tips to Stay Grounded During a Crisis
Tip #1: Stay Grounded in Your Normal Morning Routine
When your day starts well, it goes well! FACT!
The first thing to do to stay grounded during a crisis is to preserve as much of your normal routine as possible. Get up at your usual time, and do what you normally do on an average day. Well, you probably don’t need to pack lunches for the kiddos, but you know what I mean. 😁 Make your bed. Get some exercise. Have your quiet time. Get dressed in real clothes, fix your hair, and fluff on a bit of makeup. Look good for YOU and it will boost your mood. There’s a very strong psychological link between how we dress and groom ourselves and how we feel about ourselves. This connection goes both ways. People who are depressed stop taking care of themselves, and people who stop taking care of themselves quickly slide into depression. So don’t go there!
What if you don’t have a morning routine? Well now you’ve got some time on your hands to develop one! Here is an excellent article on why morning routines are so important and how to craft one for yourself.
Tip #2: Step Away From the News
Woo – there’s a lot of crazy out there. I was hoping this crisis would unify us. Unfortunately, we’ve managed to turn even this situation into a political, moral, ethical, and any other -al you can think of brawl. I quickly realized that hanging out online or watching the national news was no good for my mental health.
We need to realize that the news media and social media lives and dies by clicks and ratings. The more sensational and dramatic – and therefore panic-inducing – the media can make something, the more time we’re going to spend watching. Whether something is helpful (or even true) is often irrelevant.
That’s why I believe in general, and especially now, we need to carefully curate and limit our time watching the news or cruising the internet for info. Find a good local news show you can watch for a few minutes a day. That’s all you really need to do to say current. And stay far, far away from all the drama on social media. You’ve got better things to do than get wound up by people and their (usually ill-informed) opinions. Remember, we can get through this pandemic without participating in the panic-demic.
Tip #3: Guard Your Heart and Soul
The Bible tells us: “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”(Prov 4:23 NLT) That’s not woo-woo fluff; that’s truth!
I know for my own mental health I cannot allow myself to wallow. Ever. It gets dark and deep fast, so I’ve learned to get a grip quick. When the lockdown started, I let myself feel the sads for a few days, because feeling grief, disappointment, anger, etc. about this entire mess is NORMAL. I mean there was some ugly crying there! But then I told myself a few things:
- This ain’t helping! Wallowing is no good for me, my hubby or anyone I’m bleeding fear and anxiety all over. Spoiler alert: it’s not good for anyone!
- Most of this is completely out of my control, but I can trust God to get me through this, no matter what. NO MATTER WHAT!
- I am only responsible for the things I can control, like how I spend my time and how I keep my family safe.
- Even being in lockdown, as bad as it is, is an opportunity, so look for the open doors.
I set out to create a new schedule for myself that keeps me moving forward on my long term goals, staying connected with friends and family, and emerging on the other side of this a wiser, stronger woman of faith.
Time spent worrying or focusing on the negative is time wasted. Worse, it’s time not spent on something productive or helpful. If you’re spending a lot of time worrying or wallowing in the negatives of this situation, tips 4 and 5 will give you something better to do…
Tip #4: Stay Connected to What Nourishes YOU
Now is not the time to ditch your exercise routine, healthy eating habits, spiritual disciplines or relationships. Yes, it’s hard to watch church online and not be able to meet weekly with the girls in my Bible study. I miss the hugs, and the sharing and the just being with other people.
But praise God for Zoom and live-streaming! Hubby and I stay connected with our church and our community group with live-streaming, Facebook lives and Zoom meetings. Our Bible study groups are finishing up via Zoom as well. Is it the same? No. But staying connected is a vital part of staying grounded.
You might not know this, but your smartphone can also be used to make this thing called “a telephone call”. You know, where you talk to someone, not just text or email them. Make a point of calling 3-4 people a week, just to hear their voice and catch up. Trust me, you won’t be “bothering them” – they’ll be psyched you called! Just don’t let the conversation dwell on the negative – keep it encouraging and fun for both of you.
And speaking of fun and encouraging, now is a good time to build some healthy habits into your life. Life-giving habits like exercise, regular time for prayer and Bible study, cooking healthy meals from scratch, etc. These habits will help you not only weather this storm but improve your life as well. Use this gift of extra time as an opportunity to make positive changes in your and your family’s lives!
Tip #5: Get to Work
Now, I’m not talking about that thang you do for money. And I’m not talking to those of you who are out working long shifts every day or who are trying to work from home while suddenly running a college preparatory academy in your dining room. I’m talking to those of us whose lives have ground to a halt and we now have waaaaay too much time to fill.
Remember all those things you said you’d love to do but you “just don’t have the time”? You know…
- those closets and cupboards crammed with stuff that need to be purged
- the yard that needs some serious time and attention
- that stack of books you bought and never read
- those thousands of digital and printed photos that need to be organized, tossed or turned into scrapbooks
- those bins full of supplies for DIY projects you abandoned or never started (ouch)
You get the picture. Trust, I didn’t invent that list up there from thin air. We all have a list of projects and to-do’s we just “didn’t have time for.” Well, what’s our excuse now? 😉
The current crazy is the perfect opportunity to knock out some projects and to-dos. Start by brainstorming a list of ALL the projects, to-do’s, repairs, upgrades, books to read, etc. that you can think of. Then go back and rank them either in order of importance to you or potential impact in your life. Don’t start with the piddly easy stuff. Go for the big stuff that will really have an impact in your home, family or life. Gather your supplies (if any), block out some time on your schedule and get cracking. There is literally no time like the present to get some stuff DONE!
Wrapping it all up
Seriously, what I don’t want any of us to do is get to the other side of this crisis and say to ourselves, “Rats. I had all that time to work on some things that matter to me, and I just wasted it.” Or, “Rats. I weigh 10 lbs more than I did in February.” Or, “Rats. It’s gonna be really hard to go back to my old routine now that my new wakeup time is noon and I’ve forgotten how to use a zipper.”
This is an awful time in our world – ain’t no amount of lipstick gonna pretty that pig up. But there are ways we can keep ourselves grounded so that today AND tomorrow can be better. If we can…
- Stick to our normal routines as much as possible (or create new and improved ones)
- Turn down the negative noise in our lives
- Guard our hearts and minds against fear and anxiety
- Stay connected to people, things and activities that nourish us, and
- Make productive use of any free time we now have
…we can not just endure this trying time, we can thrive in it. My prayer for you is that, “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” as we all go through this together.
Need some other ideas of fun things you can do on your own or with family now that you probably have some extra time? Here are a few…
Try your hand at baking an amazingly delicious bread:
Spend an afternoon with the kiddos making simple jams or pickles
Sometimes, you just need a really good cookie. Gotcha covered! 😁