Sanity and Peace During a Pandemic
If you are like me, and I dare say most other people, the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on whatever it is we once called “normal” in our everyday lives. A common sentiment shared with me over the last few months is that normal is broken. With the pandemic still out of control, the economic crisis a huge reality, and the overnight shift in all levels of education to remote learning, (amongst other things) we’ve all had to find ways to purposely navigate through life the last few months.
My deepest condolences to those of you who have lost a loved one during this time, whether to covid-19 or not. Even our ability to comfort others, grieve and mourn has been fundamentally challenged throughout 2020.
As a woman of faith, I like to believe my initial response to stress, change and chaos of any form is prayer. This is foundational for me. However, I also believe in the power of expressing gratefulness and the act of reciting daily affirmations. A few mornings ago, after completing my devotional and reciting my daily affirmations, the following question hit me as I was brushing my teeth. What are other people doing to increase levels of peace and joy in their lives? You see, I was meditating on my second daily affirmation that states, I am consistently mindful of my spiritual and emotional health and daily completing tasks that increase levels of peace and joy in my life.
This daily affirmation is vitally important to me. As a person who has battled with anxiety, depression, and loneliness in the past, I refuse to be a willing participant in my own spiritual and emotional demise ever again! For those of us who pray; sometimes we must do a little more! Not that God isn’t capable, but sometimes we need to be active participants in our own state of well-being.
I decided that morning to reach out to friends and acquaintances on social media and asked them the following question.
What have you done to help keep your sanity and peace during this pandemic? Prayer is always on the top of the list for a lot of us, but putting prayer aside, what routines, self-care practices or habits have proven beneficial to your spiritual and emotional health during this pandemic?
I have come to learn that many of the things that bring joy and peace into my life I have either failed to recognize in the past (you know that part where we are supposed to stop and smell the roses), or I have been remiss in faithfully doing them once acknowledged (i.e., if you love dancing – dance like no one is watching…every chance you get). Reminding myself daily to be mindful of this has been life changing.
I also believe our ability to have joy and peace are greatly affected by three core elements in our lives. Core elements you will hear me reiterate over and over again, that we do have a reasonable amount of control over. They include good nutrition, decreased stress, and quality sleep. These are benchmarks for a life well lived and necessary to remain in optimal health.
I was pleasantly surprised by all the responses I began immediately receiving. Interestingly enough, there were several common threads throughout the responses. Outdoor physical exercise was the most common coping mechanism according to the responses received, with walking, jogging, running, hiking, and cycling at the top of the list. However, spending time outside in nature, especially around water also rated high in the responses.
Mandy H. stated, “My saving grace with all this craziness is being around water, lake, beach, creek, river. It helps ground me, connect me to the bigger picture and unplug from it all. Kayaking has been a game changer for me as well.”
“I did yoga every day, walked in the forest almost every day during the first lockdown, watched spring evolving closely. Nature is my best medicine”, was the comment from Kitti B.
Several people shared how they utilized their time in lockdown investing in their own personal development via reading and on-line courses. Others took advantage of the situation by learning a new hobby or skill. Learning to play a new instrument, taking up gardening, and learning yoga were some of the most common choices.
Creating ways to deliberately stay connected with family, friends, co-workers, and classmate throughout the quarantine has also proven to be beneficial for many people. Ryu A. said, “I’ve set up group Zooms each day with friends to keep socializing. To keep the groups Zooms fun, we pick a show to all watch and then talk about together.”
Socially extroverted individuals found it vitally important to stay connected with people in their sphere of influence and to also aid friends and neighbors any way they could. Debbie S. stated, “Helping people who were not able to get out, and playing games with my mom”, were her go to’s throughout the quarantine.
Video games, and movie nights with popcorn, in some cases popcorn made and sold by the local movie theatre, were other popular modes of operation. “Wine and more wine”, also made the list multiple times, some joking with smiley emoji’s and others scary serious. However, my favorite response of all came from Twilla M.O. who replied, “I got a puppy! He has been such a blessing. So playful and loves to cuddle!
As the weather changes, with no sight to the end of the pandemic in view, many of us will have to find other ways to remain positive, optimistic, and joyful; other ways to find sanity and peace in our continuously changing world. Remember, there are many blessings out there just waiting to be claimed. It could be a puppy, or maybe that special person you are able to cuddle with. Look for them throughout your day. Every time my granddaughter climbs in my bed and tucks her head under my arm because she wants to spend time with me, I take a deep breathe, close my eyes, mentally put a check in my daily box, and remind myself how blessed I am.