Yes, it is 2021 but unfortunately, not a lot has changed in our daily life with the turn of the new year. We continue to live with the effects of the pandemic, shift in political office, and the uncertainty and feelings brought on by both. However uncertain we may feel right now, I would encourage you to try and stay positive and do what you can to have a sense of empowerment.
Even with everything going on, we can still operate in ways that allow us to feel more in control in our own lives. By this time, many of us have gotten used to modifying routines and adapting things we used to do regularly to what we need to do in order to keep ourselves and others safe. Working, schooling, cooking, exercising and other hobbies all at home are probably something you are more comfortable with now. We can choose how we interact with our friends and family using informed, safe practices. The benefits of feeling in control of ourselves in an uncertain world can definitely serve as a buffer against other stressors. Feeling that we have a choice and are actively choosing one thing over another everyday helps us to maintain hope and positivity. Even making simple choices and leaning into those decisions can help lower stress and anxiety.
Here are a few ways to make do with what you’ve got and things to focus on as you try to brighten your outlook with the intention of staying as positive and healthy as possible within these limitations early this year.
- Continue to make conscious choices. We may feel less motivated in trying to “make the best of things” are now just trying to get by, but it is important. Get dressed and choose your outfit thoughtfully. Try a new recipe for dinner. Set a small goal and do it. Even the little things can help us to feel that we do have choice. The simple intention of choosing one meal over another or the preference of one activity over another lends to lessening stress right now can keep us healthy.
- Continue to make plans. Similarly to making conscious choices, making plans, even scheduling an activity (likely still at your home) for this weekend, enables us to feel empowered. Making conscious decisions about a movie, a game, a book, a podcast, a certain route to walk, when and who to chat with by phone, and other small plans that can break up and change our routines have significant benefits for our mental wellbeing.
- Use what you know. We have experience, almost ten months into this pandemic, at how to manage this type of life. Draw on this experience to identify what works for you and let go of what does not work at all. Learn to listen to yourself and limits. We should continue to try to re-work and interchange the activities we can do in a day to make it a bit different. Think about what time of day you feel the most productive for a project, when you are the most productive at work, when you can take a break to play with your children, and when you should rest to recharge. When we learn to listen to our own needs, we can best utilize the time we have and make adjustments to meet our needs and improve our lives and outlook. That might also include admitting that we can’t hold ourselves to the same standard as usual, allowing ourselves to be good enough, and letting go of some of the stress that comes up when we are trying to do too much at once.
- Your feelings are valid. Yep. We’re still in this. And WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER for good or bad. Honoring how you feel because of what is currently going on is the best way to stay healthy and to keep going. By acknowledging the reality, we are not denying negative feelings and instead give them credit enough to acknowledge them, move through them, and hopefully into a more empowered point of view and peace of mind. By validating the situation, we do not “skip over” our negative feelings.” We will feel them, support others in acknowledging that they are also experiencing something that is hard and meeting them with empathy. This lends itself to supporting our community as well.