This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. In the blink of an eye, our world has been confined to our homes. It is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is – and how much we need human connection. No matter how isolated you feel right now, you are not alone. Because what is different here is that we are all impacted. Your neighbours, family, colleagues and friends as well as your counterparts around the world are all going through something similar.
So, it’s important to remember:
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. Viktor E. Frankl
True freedom lies in choice, this is one of the core insights in the writings of Frankl, a psychiatrist who survived imprisonment in a Nazi concentration camp, and later wrote the book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’, where he describes behaviours in the prison camp being proof that no matter what is taken from us, we all have the power to choose our attitude in any situation.
This is the challenge each of us must rise to. If we’re going to be stuck at home, we may as well make the most of it.
Here are my suggestions to make your life better while physically isolated:
1) Build Your Physical Strength, Fitness Levels or Flexibility!
Building your physical strength is powerful and health-boosting. Not only is physical strength and flexibility life-affirming and good for our health, feeling more physically powerful actually helps us feel more empowered and less helpless in life too.
You have your own natural fitness levels and you know what does you good and what doesn’t , so this is not about guilt tripping yourself into becoming a top athlete. That would make your life worse, not better! It’s about adding some physical activity into your schedule – as little as 15 minutes daily. Maybe by the end of this you’ll be fitter, but it doesn’t matter if that means 1, or 10 or 100 press-ups!
There are many options to boost your physical strength and health. Here are some ideas:
- Take up a yoga practice – excellent for strength-building, flexibility – and calm! There are lots of online options. Here is one with everything from 10 minutes for beginners to an advanced practice. Sarah Beth Yoga on Youtube has more (free) yoga videos than I can count.
- Learn do a press-up or push-up. Then see if you can get to 10 (or more – depending on where you start) I’m currently at 2!
- There are so many online fitness classes on Youtube – for beginners, experts – with equipment and also with no equipment whatsoever. PopSugar Fitness has many options to choose from.
2) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:
Use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained – like self-confidence, negotiation skills, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations and much more.
What keeps you up at night? There’s probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There’s probably a book about that too!
Here are some book ideas to get you thinking:
- Be more productive or creative with “The Now Habit” by Neil Fiore or “A Whack on the Side of the Head (How You Can Be More Creative)” by Roger Von Oech and “A Whole New Mind” by Daniel Pink.
- Think (or rethink?) how you live with books like “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan (also available in a young reader’s version), “Slow Food: Collected Thoughts on Taste, Tradition, and the Honest Pleasures” by Carlo Petrini, “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich, “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth.
- Get personally inspired with “Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown, or “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor E. Frankl.
- Up-skill yourself with “Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most” by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen.
- Learn about the human mind with “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell or “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel MD and Tina Payne Bryson, PhD.
- Get healthier with “Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker PhD.
- Be more confident and discover your strengths with “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance – What Women Should Know” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman” or “Now, Discover Your Strengths (How to Develop Your Talents and Those of the People You Manage)” by Marcus Buckingham and Donald O.
- Finally, read memoirs. Choose someone you admire, get inspired and learn how other people think – and live their lives.
Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills – and maybe even make you more employable too.
3) Gain a New Skill with Online Learning:
There are so many opportunities online to gain a new skill and they’re growing by the day.
Grow your personal or creative skills or choose a new skill to learn and take back to work with online training providers like Coursera or Udemy.
4) Explore your Life Vision:
Rather than watching endless news streams, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture – your future. What do you want from the rest of your life? What would you be disappointed you did NOT do? Where do you envision yourself in 10 years?
Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work towards our goals, take action and make change. Soon, we’ll all be super-busy again – and a vision might be just what you need stay focused.
You can even try some online Coaching Sessions, and who better to connect with then yours truly, Mags Treanor:
5) Be in the moment:
In THIS moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.
Your mindset is all about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practicing BEING.
This is a PRACTICE – meaning you will have to do it over and over again – bringing yourself back to the NOW. Over time it gets easier, and it’s a great skill to have to take back to “normal” life.
So when you notice you’re worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the “latest” is about the COVID situation, say to yourself, “It’s OK. In this moment, I am safe. In this moment I am OK.” You can also add or say, “In this moment, my children/husband/family are safe.”
My Advice: Reduce or minimise how often you watch and read the news! And DON’T read or watch the news (or articles about COVID-19 or similar) just before bed.
In a Nutshell
No virus, no restrictions and no directives can take hold of your mindset. You have the power to shape the situation you are in for the best. It’s not easy though, and being physically and mentally proactive is key to getting the best out of it.
So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The areas I am focusing on are staying physically fit. I’ve started doing short runs and increasing them daily. I’ve also stopped buying chocolate, not that this means I can conquer the chocolate addiction overnight! I wanted to do a 10 minute stretching workout each morning, but just haven’t managed to, so I’ve settled on doing it 3 or 4 times a week and always feel great afterwards.
Believe you have the skills and power to tackle this situation and you will! Choose to make the best of a difficult situation and no matter what – you’ll find a way.
This current and strange COVID-19 situation will end. And when it does, you can come out of it having made the effort to learn something – whether it’s about yourself, fresh knowledge, a new skill – and who knows what else!