Coping with Covid-19 positively is not all that easy. I like the “old normal”. Learning how to cope with isolation and social distancing in positive ways can be difficult. There are hundreds of articles out there, and all of them have a similar theme, which is “normal” is not going to be normal anymore. A new normal is with us, at least for a while. The Coronavirus “normal” brings with it a lot of pitfalls but also many opportunities.
The Pros and Cons of Isolation
- Sadness & Depression
- A feeling of loss
- Missing loved ones and friends
- Fear and anger
- Too much time with the same people
- Too much time with yourself
- More time to contemplate, to take time to love yourself more and know yourself better.
- The opportunity to grow closer to the people you live with, to appreciate the relationships you have
- Finding new ways to communicate and share with others
- Taking up new hobbies and activities (art, writing, yoga, walking…whatever you have been putting off doing)
How to Keep Positive Despite Coronavirus Restrictions
There are actually good things about the restrictions and new “normal” imposed on us by the Coronavirus. The first and foremost of these is the opportunity it gives us to rethink things, to do things in a new way and to be grateful for what we have. This time can be a great time to grow and to really exercise mindfulness and self-care and love. It is also providing many of us with the opportunity to give back, to be more empathetic, to do things for others that perhaps we might not have thought of doing before.
I am fortunate, I live in the countryside in a country that has not been as badly hit as many other countries. I am used to not seeing anyone but my husband, our dog, Bella, and the neighboring cows and sheep or occasional cat or llama most days of the week. I have a good portion of my life alone, I work alone – so in some ways I am blessed. I am an introvert more than an extrovert. Being alone is not new but now it is different. We have to isolate. We have no opportunity to visit friends, go to the local pub or even the closest beach. Our Saturday excursions to Limerick – gone. Friday evening at the local, gone. Inviting friends for dinner, gone. The life is not all that different but the lack of options makes it feel a lot more oppressive. I miss most our Saturdays, and going for drives or to the beaches, or the knowledge that our travel dates are planned and our much loved summer visitors are coming. We can only wait and hope.
I have a few things that are keeping me positive and happy these days.
- I do a little bit of exercise each morning – pilates or yoga – first thing when I get up or else I get caught up in doing other things.
- I practice mindfulness on a daily basis.
- I write in my journal every day, even if it is just a few words…I looked at one of my entries recently as I was thumbing through one of my journals – there were two words, “I think”…hmm must have been a dull day.
- I write every day – poetry, fiction, an article, an essay – sometimes I publish it, often, it doesn’t go further than a folder on my computer.
- I research something every day – whatever comes into my mind – maybe quotes, or the state of the world, how to paint, how to use a glue gun, how to plant sunflower seeds. Google is my friend.
- I try to go for a walk each day, but I am not great about it. But Bert goes for really long walks so I live my walks through him. I signed up for a 10,000 steps a day Challenge…maybe that will motivate me.
- I plan meals and cook a few new dishes each week – for this, I am grateful for Recipe Tin Eats – Nagi is my hero – and her dog is cute!
- I started painting – I am not great, probably not even good at it – but it is fun and I like the fact that now my office can be messy because now it is my “studio”.
- I do shell and pebble art sometimes – it is fun, easy, and brings back memories of the beaches I have visited.
- I watch comedians and reruns of NCIS when I want to chill out mindlessly.
- I am grateful every day for something… lots of things actually – sometimes I jot down a list but mostly, I go outside and breath and think of things I am grateful for several times a day.
- I drink more water and eat more fruit than I did before.
- I give myself permission to be lazy and not put on makeup or dress for anyone but myself – and sometimes just to dress up for my husband now and then.
- I check on Facebook or Twitter, sometimes message friends, try to keep in touch a bit, but not be overwhelmed by it.
- I walk around the front and back gardens each day, seeing what new flowers and critters there are.
- I don’t kill bees or spiders anymore – just get them out of the house.
- I talk to bees and spiders – birds too…hmmm
Staying positive is not easy in the best of times, but one of the gifts that lockdown or Covid-19 has given me is the ability to appreciate the little things, to give myself permission to be who I am and do what I want to do. I am trying new things, learning new things and generally staying pretty darn positive.
Staying Positive In Spite of Negative People and News
Staying positive in spite of negative people and news is a difficult one. I can’t avoid the news, my husband is a news junkie, and so am I. But it takes a lot of energy to deal with the constant barrage of negative news, outrageous tweets and decisions, conflict, and what might be defined outright evil. I get angry and sad, I want to scream and shout – I feel a weight that sometimes makes it hard to breath when hear bad advice and negativity constantly coming from people that should be leading instead of hating during these difficult times.
It seems like every day, there is another sad story, another lie, another barrage of nonsense. So, what to do? I look for the good news. I look at the people that are doing things to help others, to keep themselves strong, the creative people who are putting things out there to lighten the mood. The stories of companies and countries helping people are myriad. People are generally nice in Ireland and they remain so during the Coronavirus, everyone is pulling together, there are no protests or people carrying guns to them. There is no division here based on parties or color of skin. I am grateful for that. I try to look at the CNN Impact Your World pages on a daily basis – there is always something good there. We have instituted a policy at home – for every negative thing we hear in the news we find a positive story. It helps a lot!
The Opportunities Covid-19 Presents
Most of what we are feeling now, we have felt before, the situation today is merely a magnifying glass. Leo Babauta, of Zen Habits, presents us with some good ideas on how to take advantage of this time :
- If you’re feeling restricted, let yourself feel the feeling of restriction. It’s probably something you’ve felt many times before but didn’t face it. Can you shift this feeling, after you’ve felt it, to see the sense of openness and freedom and gift in each moment?
- If you’re feeling isolated, can you use this to connect to yourself more, as if you were a monk in a monastery? Can you let yourself feel the feeling of isolation, and give yourself some compassion?
- Let yourself feel the craving for connection and meaning. And then see how you can create that for yourself, each day, without any certainty about whether you’re doing it right.
- If you’re irritated at others, can you rise above your narrative about the other person, and see that you’re both feeling fear and pain? That you both are dealing with this with anger, irritation, frustration? That both of you are resorting to old (unhelpful) patterns? Can you practice compassion for them (and yourself) instead?
- If you’re impatient and wanting it all to be over … can you practice patience instead? Let yourself be with the pain and frustration you’re feeling, and be willing to face it and sit in the middle of it? This is an incredibly powerful practice that will strengthen us for whatever we face in the future.
- Can you practice this patience with everything you’re feeling: overwhelmed, irritated, frustrated, anxious, uncertain, fearful? And bring self-compassion to that as well?
So you can get a sense that we’re practicing a few things with whatever we’re facing:
- A willingness to feel what we’re feeling
- A willingness to face and sit in the middle of difficulty (patience)
- Compassion for ourselves and others
- The ability to create connection and meaning
The takeaway here is that it is possible to “make lemonade” from your lemons. Time is precious and now we have more of it, probably, than we have had before. It is a great time to explore, to learn to know ourselves better, to be grateful for what we have and to celebrate each new day with the small things. We are having a garden party tonight in our back garden, we will be playing our favourite oldies, barbequing, and enjoying one of the rare sunny days we have here in beautiful Ireland.