They say that the times we’re living in right now are the new normal. I disagree. There is nothing normal about this. Living through a pandemic, COVID-19, a mandated shelter-in order, sickness, financial stress, death, loss of employment, adjustments to working remotely, whether at home with family and juggling a sudden demand to homeschool children at the same time, staying with roommates, or being single and utterly alone – these are certainly traumatic events, and some people on the other side of this will experience PTSD. Be gentle on yourself and others. This isn’t normal, nor should you be trying to convince yourself that it should be your new normal. What is needed now is a mind shift, and changes in the way we do life, so we can feel a sense of wellness during all these changes being thrust upon us.
These times call for an extra dose of grace and patience when corresponding with your family, friends, and co-workers. Remember that they too are experiencing the stress, sadness, confusion, and fear that you are. People are short, lashing out, and responding to the simplest processes in unexpected and sometimes hurtful ways because they are feeling vast amounts of pressure, some visible and some invisible. During all of this, it’s so very important to be radical in your efforts toward your mental wellness.
Fortitude means you press on when it’s the hardest. It means you keep believing when other people have stopped believing. It means that you make yourself remember that you have gotten through other extremely difficult times in the past, and therefore you will make it through this one as well. It means that you pull yourself up by the boot straps and remind your brain that it doesn’t matter that you can’t see the outcome right now, that you will continue to do the things to care for your physical and mental wellness that you know have helped in the past, only now, you’re entering in with intense tenacity because desperate times call for desperate measures.
I never used to stretch, meditate and exercise daily. I used to practice those things when it fit in easier, usually on the weekends outside of my regular work schedule, or after work occasionally. However, the first week I was working remotely due to the shelter-in mandate began my daily ritual of stretching in the morning upon waking, practicing mindfulness and extended periods of meditation, and now exercising daily. This might just be a walk around my neighborhood, or it may be a 5-mile hike and paddle-boarding in the same day, but it has become a necessity for me, an anchor that is helping me stay calm and well during a time that I’m experiencing a lot of increased stress. If I wake up with anxiety already in my gut, once I have done these things, it is always gone. If not gone after the meditation, it certainly is after the exercising.
It is scientifically proven that exercise can diminish depression. The endorphins released when we exercise trigger positive feelings similar to morphine. And yet, so many of us don’t exercise, even knowing this. As for me, I’m gonna keep kicking my own butt to push myself and get out there, especially on the days I don’t feel like it. I want to continue to bolster these feelings that bring a sense of wellness and positive outlook on life regardless of what my surrounding circumstances are.
It takes a lot of gumption to take good care of yourself. Sometimes we put so many other people before ourselves that we don’t pay attention to our bodies and minds pushing at us to listen. Find something, even if only one thing, that brings you peace. Just start. If you can only fit 10 minutes into your schedule, or are so overwhelmed or depressed that you can only muster 10 minutes, just start. Start, and do it every single day no matter what excuses your mind comes up with that tells you “not today”. It’s the daily practice, and the little steps that will slowly refocus your mind, and not only reverse bad habits, but will slowly bring you to a place of feeling more strength, more happiness and more peace as the neural pathways are reconstructed to head in the direction of positive roads leaving the old ones behind.
Yes. Even in the midst of a pandemic.