It’s been over four weeks since I shook other people’s hands or gave someone a hug who doesn’t live under my roof. The last time I coincidentally saw my best friends outdoors it felt super strange, not to say awkward.
We are in the middle of a pandemic which has caused worldwide chaos. People are losing their lives, their jobs and the whole planet is panicking. To make matters worse, our freedom is taken away and we are forced to stay at home to dim down the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The words pandemic and panic, sanitation and sanity are dominating the news. Due to the volatility of the past events one can only speculate but impossibly predict when and if our old normality will ever come back. The world is a total mess. How to cope with such unfortunate times and how to live in an insane situation without losing sanity?
The symptoms of instability increased. So did the fact that we were no longer facing a personal but also an international crisis. Some of the richest countries are still struggling to flatten the curve of the outbreak. The severe impact on developing countries is still unknown. Here in Austria lockdown restrictions have been relaxed after four weeks. However, we will know soon enough if it was the right move.
But enough of the corona disaster, the negativity, fear and anxiety that came along with it. After all, this blog should motivate and inspire you. So what can we do despite the lockdown restrictions and the awfulness on the news every day? How not to not lose our minds during self-isolation?
I don’t want to sound unsentimental. I am very sorry for those who lost family members, friends, acquaintances, jobs and businesses.
For all the others, hear me out because I have good news for you. If you can read this then count yourself to the lucky ones who are not affected most! If you were, you probably wouldn’t even be here.
If you have a roof above your head, food, running water, your loved ones around you, if you and are lucky enough to keep your job, work at your home office and not face financial problems then your current situation is not as doomed as you think. Because now you eventually have more time than ever. And as I will emphasize a lot on this blog, time is your most valuable asset.
Additionally spring is showing its full beauty. It seems like we are between catastrophe and idyll. We used to feel trapped at work and now we feel trapped at home. How to stay motivated now and transform our lives for the greater? Let me give you some ideas that might help you to manage this crisis and make your days in self-quarantine a little better.
1. Accept what you can’t control
Stop searching for certainty in uncertain times. We are dealing with so much uncertainty but try to adapt to the current situation. Inform yourself intentionally but avoid overwhelming negative news on TV and social media. Reduce checking the numbers that are linked to the crisis. It helps reducing anxiety and it frees up time to focus on things that you can control. You are unsurprisingly scared, worried or depressed but make the best out of it. Take a deep breath and relax.
You surely have a list of things you wanted to do for ages. Someday you wanted to become healthier, tidy up your home, get rid of unused stuff, learn a new craft or edit that vacation video. You planned to create things like a blog, a painting or repair your broken bike. Well congratulations, that someday has come! Someday is today! When will you ever get a better opportunity for those things?
I started this blog and my wife is currently doing a yoga teaching course. We try to learn new skills and be creative. Now that we are partially out of the rat race we so often complain about let’s make use of our time, imagination and creativity!
3. Cultivate new habits
In a world where everything is upside down, old habits and routines can make the situation even worse. Therefore, it might be a good idea to start new ones. Take the opportunity to focus on areas of life that you normally have neglected, such as your health, relationships, good habits and personal development. Those fundamentals will help you perform better in your daily life now and later. Start with small changes that you can follow regularly. Then jump to bigger ones. Cultivating your habits become natural by repetition.
Try waking up earlier and set yourself a daily routine. I kickstart my day with a 10-minute breath meditation with the help of the Apps Headspace or Calm. Then I go for an outdoor walk, run or bike followed by a short workout while listening to interesting podcasts. I fill my tank up again with a healthy breakfast after that. And since I want to become a better writer, I started to sit down daily for at least an hour to work on my writing skills. That routine takes 3 to 4 hours of my day. But I always feel great working on my personal growth. It helps me enjoy the days even more.
My book recommendations on developing good habits:
Atomic Habits by James Clear + Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
4. Learn new skills
Take an honest look at your life, where you are at and what you want to improve short and longterm. You could choose a new career path or maybe you simply want to enrich your life with new skills. Good ways to learn are reading books, listening to podcasts or watching tutorials on Youtube.
You could also subscribe to learning platforms such as Skillshare, Udemy, Coursera or Linkedin Learning. If you are not keen on reading whole books try Blinkist. It offers the key ideas of over 3000 nonfiction books that you can read or listen to in less than 15 minutes. Just make sure you do the best with your gifted time.
5. Embrace the break
No rushing to work and shops, no traffic jams and less air pollution. We can feel that life quality has become better than before in many ways. In a few months some sort of normality will come back and we will be distracted again. So embrace the break and focus on the joyful side of life!
Time has come for self-care and investing in your well being. Treat your body with respect and allow it to have it its deserved rest. Sleep longer, include calming exercises like yoga and meditation into your life. Regain your work-life balance. Appreciate waking up without hurrying and adapt to the slower pace. Enjoy your time with your kids and loved ones. Remember, back in the office you wished you had more time for them.
6. Simplify your life
Time again has proven that disasters like this force millions of people to simplify their lives. While others are minimalists by choice, many who live an expensive life have to follow minimalism by necessity. Lack of money after losing a job or bankruptcy in business makes it impossible to sustain a consumer-driven life. Therefore, I find it even more important to adapt to a simpler life.
The benefits of being a minimalist are obvious. It helps to better prepare for a crisis. Spending less encreases the emergency savings. You won’t be craving to buy stuff out of boredom because you usually don’t do that anyway. When things go wrong you are more flexible.
Minimalism raises your confidence in overcoming such difficulties. Use the time to tidy up your life and make more space for clarity and security.
7. Help people in need
The pandemic gives us great opportunities to serve and help people in need. If you’ve always wanted a more meaningful life here’s your chance. Ask local help organizations how you can help out. Offer your neighbors to buy their groceries or walk their dogs. Donate to non-profit organizations. They need your support more than ever.
We decided to help Charity Water by joining the Spring membership. Our monthly donation helps them bring clean water to the poorest people on earth, the ones who will be affected most from this crisis.
8. Stay positive
The crisis has shown us what matters most in life. We need to rethink how we want to proceed. Quite often we see ourselves trapped in situations. But there is always a way out, an alternative. In the end, we design our paths with our daily decisions. And as long as we are alive we can decide.
In unfortunate times like this when staying strong might be a challenge, I highly recommend reading Man’s search for meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. Let his messages help you through these tough times. Stay positive, stay safe!
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” – Viktor E. Frankl