This has, without a doubt, been one of the most challenging times in history. No one was prepared or has been left unaffected. Even those who have remained healthy, still have food on the table and basic needs met, have dealt with physical, mental and emotional challenges.

I myself have had a worsening of my depression from not being able to go to work. I was left without a sense of purpose, as well as a lot of grief from the loss of the activities I enjoyed the most, such as going out dancing with friends and lifting weights at the gym.

Since it looks like our lives will remain uncertain and radically different for an unknown length of time, and we don’t know if life will ever return to our previous normal, I hope these tips will be helpful and bring a bit of relief.

Be Kind to Yourself

Many of us don’t give ourselves the same grace we would give to a friend or loved one. Remember to give yourself self-love and be careful to avoid using a negative internal narrative. You might even catch yourself doing this without realizing it.

Feel Your Feelings

There is a saying, “What we resist, persists.” Pushing away negative feelings never works in the long term; they will eventually come back even stronger. A better option is to sit with your feelings without judgement, observe them as you would a third person. Feel the emotions and remember that often they will pass. If they don’t, find a trusted person to help you talk through them.

Structure Your Day

Long, empty days with little to do can make you feel very unmotivated. Do your best to schedule multiple activities throughout the day at specific times. If you like making lists and crossing things off, write down everything, even if it’s just getting the mail.

Exercise

Fitness might look different to you right now since we can’t have packed classes, weight rooms or cardio areas. You might be exercising at home. If you find yourself lacking the motivation you used to have, that’s okay.

Even if you can talk yourself into going for a walk or spend some time doing yoga or stretching, that still counts as exercise. Housework and yard work counts, too. You will feel better for getting up off the couch.

Go Outside

Get outdoors when possible, whether it’s walking, hiking or just sitting. Spend time in a green space (trees) or a blue space (water). Make a point to notice how your mood may be lifted afterwards. Do this daily if you can.

Mindfulness and Meditation

Endless bad news from the media or acquaintances can send us into a negative emotional and mental spiral. Take time away each day to either practice a simple meditation such as focusing on the breath and the feelings in your body or focusing on the sights, sounds and smells around you.

Your mind will likely wander off (I call this going off the rails), but that’s normal, and you can just keep bringing it back. Try different forms of mindfulness or meditation to see which works best for you. Don’t forget to eat mindfully as well.

Stay Connected

Be safe. Continue to wear masks and social distance, but get together with friends and family as much as you can. Even just getting together in the backyard for a while can help to meet our need for community. If you can’t see them in person, video calls are still a great option.

Let Go

Try to release the need to control the situation. We create a lot more suffering than we need to when we battle against things that are outside our control.

Remind yourself that there are only some things we can control or change. As unfair as it is, bad things will happen that we can do nothing about. Take it one day at a time or even one hour at a time, especially during this time of uncertainty.

Remember frustration, stress, anxiety and depression are all normal and likely magnified at this time. Even if you haven’t lost a loved one or friend, it’s still normal to feel grief for what we have lost, including the sudden and shocking end of the normal day-to-day lives that we knew.

Give yourself a hug, physically or mentally, and send a virtual or socially-distanced hug to your loved ones.

Lori Vance

Body Image Fitness, LLC

503.351.6476