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Author:  Kristina Olsevska

Mortality rate, travel restrictions, lockdowns, vaccines, cumulative statistics, unemployment, #stayathome, #WorkingFromHome, #COVIDIOTS – this is all everyone seems to be thinking about these days. 

I get it. I am one of them.

Sometimes it feels like the world will end soon, and sometimes, like today, it feels just fine. How to stop yourself from throwing a tantrum when you feel overwhelmed? There is no universal recipe that works for everyone at all times, but I have summed up my 7 medicines against covidcoma. I hope it will resonate with you on some level too.

1. Breathe!

Yes, I know, it is literally a no-brainer. Everyone breathes to survive. Nevertheless, too often we end up taking this simple action for granted. Ironically, seeing how we do it unconsciously, we never see the true benefits of breathing to our mental and physical health. Yet it is in these uncertain times that breathing is particularly important in taking good care of our mental health. 

These days almost everything– even going to the store or opening a news tab – can cause extreme discomfort. In such circumstances, your body naturally defaults to the “fight or flight” response, which in turn increases blood pressure and, consequently, escalates anxiety. Have you noticed that now more than ever it’s harder to breathe? I certainly have.

First step to ease this virus-induced burden is through deep breathing. Deep breathing goes by many names, most notably:

  • diaphragmatic breathing,
  • abdominal breathing,
  • belly breathing, and
  • paced respiration.

This technique influences both physiological factors (by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system) and psychological factors (by diverting attention from thoughts) which, according to Harvard Health Publishing, triggers your body’s relaxation response. In other words – your body learns to calm down quickly.

Breathing exercises are linked to several notable health benefits, such as lower blood pressure, increased immune function and lower anxiety and depression.

It doesn’t need to be prolonged, couple of minutes will be enough. Just do it correctly following these steps:

  • Get comfortable – lie down or sit in a chair.
  • Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
  • Breathe in slowly through your nose while letting your belly fill with air and rise fully.
  • Exhale slowly through your nose while letting your belly lower as the air blows out.
  • Feel it with your hands.
  • Repeat as many times as you feel are needed.

Need some example? Here’s one

2. Make Your Bed!

I’m aware of how silly this may sound but making your bed every morning really makes a difference. While the world seems chaotic, your bedroom will be the exact opposite.

I will borrow a sentence or two from Admiral William H. McRaven’s Commencement Address at the University of Texas-Austin back in 2014: “If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed… If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed, will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made, that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better,”

So little things matter, especially today. Get some of them done first in order start your day off well. Step by step. Day by day.

In addition, if you work from home, dress up, brush your teeth and maintain your daily morning routine as much as you possibly can. Working in pyjamas will not help you stay productive nor will it let you feel determined.

Want some inspiration and tips? Lewis Howes, creator of the podcast “The School of Greatness” and author of a New York Times best-seller of the same name has some.

3. Exercise!

Go for long walks, short runs if possible, follow home exercise videos or, at least, stretch your body every once in a while, do yoga, sun salutation, whatever. It’s a well-known fact that even small amounts of exercise can boost your mental health. We have the tools to protect and improve it, we just often are too lazy to do so. 

Here are some YouTubers from whom to draw your daily lockdown workout inspiration:

For gals (I personally follow):

For boys (few that I know of):

4. Consume and Read Reliable and Fact-Based Information!

Please, please, please, read news from reliable sources, such as WHO, your Ministry of Health or other government entities. For a statistical overview, I suggest this neat little Covid-19 dashboard developed by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering. Every so often due to luck of competence in this particular field it is easy for journalists to misinterpret facts and manipulate sentences out of context to make headlines. This is not a universal fault and there are reliable and cool-headed media outlets out there (The Economist, for instance), but going directly to the source will always yield the best results.

Don’t get me wrong – we should not pretend that everything is fine. Still it does not mean that we have to let this be the first thing that pops in our heads every morning. Yes, keep your hand on the pulse, but don’t sit on news sites for hours. There’s much more to do with your time – focus on how you can recalibrate your current circumstances to your benefit.

5. Control Controllables!

Yup. Repeat after me: “Control controllables. Control controlablles. Control controllables.”  You cannot control the weather, government decisions or the spread of Covid-19, but what you can control is your attitude towards this whole situation.

“But aren’t we all in this together?” you might ask!

Well, not really. Technically, we are not in this together, at least not to the same degree. Try explaining this alleged togetherness to a struggling single mother who just lost her job. She is not exactly in the same boat as a millionaire killing his time in a seaside mansion. What all of us do have in common, however, is the ability to control our attitudes towards these obstacles.

I believe in the inherent goodness of humanity. Have you noticed how many celebrities and public figures use their time in lockdown to spread positivity and share their craft to inspire others? People are genuinely good. We all want this to end. Unfortunately the end is not yet in our sights. Nor will the next months be easy. But I can promise that this all will pass. So you’ll be better off focusing on what you can control and spread positivity, because – hey, you never know – maybe your actions end up inspiring someone not to give up.

6. Look for Gratitude!

Jim Kwik, an American business coach, once asked in an interview:

What if the only things you had in your life tomorrow were the things you express the gratitude for today?

I know – it’s difficult to look for the good in life when people lose their jobs at a blink of an eye, people die at a frightening rate and the economy is in tatters, but, as I mentioned before, focus on what you can control.

Control your mind and what it thinks. I choose to start my day with gratitude, because it can always be worse. Look for something you are blissful to have – family, a job, a loving spouse, healthy parents, a roof over your head – and focus on that.

What if the only things you had in your life tomorrow were the things you express the gratitude for today?

7. Don’t Try to Have It All Together All the Time!

Last, but not least, remember, we are all uniquely different, and we all react to situations in unique ways. You don’t necessarily need to have it all together at all times. If one day you want the earth to open up and swallow you whole, let that feeling flow, don’t suppress it. The next day or the day after that this feeling will pass.

If you ignore your emotions, chances are that all of them will accumulate somewhere in your head and the consequences will manifest themselves in your physical and mental health, longevity, relationships and other aspects of your life. Sure, I am not suggesting you become a couch potato every time you feel sensitive – not at all. Feel it, understand it, but don’t go bananas over it.

This is the high time to finally do your mental laundry and your body’s spring cleaning.

You should ask yourself:

  • What kind of a person do I want to be by the time the lockdown ends?
  • Am I comfortable with the state of mind I am currently in?
  • How can I change it?

Because, if there is one thing you should take away from this article, it’s that you are in control. So choose wisely how you want to go on living your life. By the time all of this blows over everything will be different. For better of worse? That’s in your hands. 

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Commit to it! BePrime!