Things are tough right now. With coronavirus circling the globe, impacting nearly every citizen on Earth, the world is a weird place right now. We’re all facing uncertainties about what the future will hold. We don’t know for sure what will happen with our health, the health of our loved ones, our jobs, our communities, and more. It’s unnerving, to say the least.
During times like these, it’s okay to be overwhelmed, scared, or anxious. In fact, it’s normal. You’re not alone in feeling how you feel. I, too, feel overwhelmed and unsure. So, of course, I did what I always do — I created something to help me that I hope will help others, too.
Here’s a list of 15 reminders I want to keep in mind as we continue to battle the coronavirus globally. These are strange times, but keeping these things in mind will help us keep calm (and maybe even gain something positive from this experience). Staying optimistic is challenging during difficult times, but it is so important. I hope these reminders will stick with you in the days and weeks to come…
- THIS WON’T LAST FOREVER. Whatever you’re going through right now, no matter how difficult, will not last forever. The impacts of your situation may impact you for a long time (they might even change your life dramatically), but nothing is forever. Things will change. Be grateful for the good times and be accepting of the bad ones.
- GOOD THINGS CAN COME FROM BAD TIMES. You don’t know for sure what the future will hold. I urge you to read (or re-read) the parable of the Chinese farmer. It reminds you that you have no idea what good fortune could come from your bad fortune. Yes, bad things happen, but often they lead to good things. Keep believing good things are coming.
- DISTANCE CAN PROVIDE CLARITY. A situation that changes up your daily routine can distance you from your normal day-to-day life. This can be overwhelming and unsettling, yes, but that distance may also give you clarity on how your activities really impact you. What do you feel relieved to be without? What do you miss the most? Notice these things, and work to adjust your life in the future accordingly.
- YOU HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO CHANGE. Change begets change. If something disrupts your life suddenly, it might be a sign that you need a fresh start. A good time for a new life is when things have been completely transformed without your say so. If you want it to be, a disruption can be like a New Year, a clean slate, a fresh start.
- CONNECTION IS INCREDIBLY VALUABLE. TREASURE IT.When times are toughest, you see who the people in your life really, truly are. You notice who is there for you and who is not. You notice who might need your attention and care, who is responsive to your love and affection. Tough times show true colors, and seeing those colors can help you determine who you want in your life.
- LITTLE THINGS REALLY DO MATTER. If you’re missing something you were used to seeing, doing, or being, you’ll start to notice the little things you miss in particular about that person, place, or thing, things you might not have paid much attention to before. Use this a sign to be grateful for what you do have now and a reminder to appreciate the little things once you’re back in your normal routine.
- UNEXPECTED CHANGE OFFERS A NEW PERSPECTIVE. When you’re suddenly swung around, your life changed without permission, you’re presented with a different view of your life. This new vantage point can be overwhelming or upsetting at times, but it is a gift. It’s so rare that we’re forced to step out of our patterns and routines. Pay attention to how you feel and what you now see.
- PRACTICING POSITIVITY WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER. It’s great to be optimistic when things are going well. But it’s also easy. Staying positive when things aren’t great (and I mean really not great, not just, like, “I had a bad day. This sucks.”) is hard work. It comes naturally to some, but most of us have to practice. This is the time to practice positive thinking. (Don’t know how? Read this and do the worksheets.)
- WHO YOU ARE IS MORE THAN WHAT YOU DO. When you’re removed from your well-trod patterns and routines, it can be startling to realize that you’re more than what your job is, who you’re related to, and all of the items on your to-do list. A dramatic change forces you to slow down, look around, and do some self-reflection. Look within. Work on self-love.
- IT’S OKAY TO FEEL HOW YOU FEEL. In any difficult situation (or any situation at all!), it’s important to remember that it’s okay to feel how you feel. Feelings happen, but they aren’t facts. You are allowed to feel any feeling you feel. If and how you act on that feeling is what can be helpful or harmful, but feelings on their own are okay. Accept your feelings and choose actions carefully.
- GOOD THINGS CAN HAPPEN (EVEN IN BAD TIMES). Bad things happen during good times. Good things happen during bad times. If you’re generally in a bad place (or the world is), but something wonderful happens, embrace it. I know it might feel strange, but the world needs more joy, no matter how small. Don’t turn away from joy and happiness in difficult times.
- YOU MUST PLAY THE CARDS YOU’RE DEALT. If nothing else, a dramatic change or difficult situation will serve as a reminder that a great deal of life (where we’re born, who raised us, where we live, the current time period, other people’s actions and reactions) is not under our control. We have to do the best we can, and know that we can only work with what we have access to. (Use these cards to serve as a tangible reminder of this.)
- TOUGH TIMES TEACH YOU ABOUT YOURSELF. Going through something difficult or life-changing is one of the greatest ways to find out more about yourself. You know how sometimes people bond with each other while going through a challenge? You can do that with yourself, too. It sounds odd, but you really can. Use this time to discover who you are and what really matters to you.
- PRODUCTIVITY ISN’T LIFE’S SOLE PURPOSE. Any disruption at all can worsen productivity, but let this low productivity be a reminder that something is off, and that’s okay. There is no reward for being the most productive in a day (though you wouldn’t be remiss to think that there is, given that we’re taught at a young age that productivity is crucial for happiness). You don’t have to be productive all the time. It’s okay to relax.
- FIND JOY AND INSPIRATION WHEREVER YOU CAN. Maybe this kind of self-help article helps you. Maybe you find inspiration while looking at photographs or taking walks or riding a flamingo down an empty beach. I don’t know what your deal is, but you do what brings you joy or inspiration during a difficult time — even if it looks very different than what others call “inspiration.” Find what makes you feel comforted and uplifted and do it often.
I know things are tough right now. For some they are much tougher than others, and we never know exactly what other people are going through. Be kind to one another. Be kind to yourself. Do the best you can with what you have around you, and do your best to stay calm. But also know that it’s okay to freak out. It’s okay to be worried and overwhelmed. Allow yourself to be where you are, and strive to make your mental health a priority right now.
My next book, Grow Through It: Inspiration for Weathering Life’s Seasons, is hitting the shelfs in October. If you want to get yourself a little pick-me-up that will arrive as a nice surprise in the fall, I’d love it if you preordered a copy. More details about the book, and all of the places you can preorder, are available here.