How to CARE and COPE at the same time?
Mental peace is something that everyone wants. Unfortunately, it seems that we don’t always get it. In times of crisis, we tend to become anxious or depressed. What can we do to achieve mental peace?
Optimism is what I strive for in life. However, I think I end somewhere in the middle between optimism and pessimism. This middle space I call “realism”. Overall, I’m basically fine with being a realist because it keeps me grounded. The problem with being a realist, though, is that there is little space left for making changes to the events in the universe as the realist deals only with the given reality; he can’t deal with any other reality.
Optimists see potential to change things for the better, while the realist simply sees what is.
As I write this my area of the world is concerned with the effects of the coronavirus, rising inflation, supply chain issues, and record-high gas prices. Of course, most of the world’s general attention is focused on Russia and Ukraine. How that conflict will ultimately affect the rest of the world is only an educated guess. Hence our lack of mental peace as we struggle through these times of crisis.
The more I hear and read the news, the stronger is my desire to escape from it all! But there’s nowhere to go! In a previous article, I wrote about how to work on a healthy news consumption strategy, that’s a start for obtaining mental peace. Wanting to escape from these times of crisis is the realist in me talking. My sense of realism has no regard for coping with or changing my current reality, only in fleeing from the crisis so as not to have to deal with it at all.
As I continue to feel the need to flee these times of crisis, the realist in me leans more toward the pessimist as I realize, deep inside of my thoughts, that there is no escape. There is nowhere for me to physically flee, and the more I feel trapped the more anxious and stressed I become. Amidst the barrage of news and opinions, my inner struggle spirals the more I hear of despair, economic worries, and violence in our world.
The optimist in me wants to join the inner thoughts and conversation with my inner-realist. (As I previously said, I do try my best to be an optimist.) But even if the realist allows such a dialogue, what might it sound like? In light of the tensions in the world, what can my inner-optimist say without sounding either naive or like a quote from a greeting card?
How can we be realistic AND optimistic?
The optimist views the world from the mindset that every challenge can be overcome, and believes mental peace and joy always prevail, even in times of crisis. Optimism motivates us to strive to overcome even if we can’t imagine a positive outcome. Deep within our thoughts we know, without a doubt, that without at least trying, a future full of hope will never be realized.
The joint inner dialog of the optimist with the realist must take into account the difficult realities we face while avoiding naive “answers.” What we need is hope fulfilled through practical, effective action.
My inner optimist, in its desire to make a change instead of fleeing, reminds me to turn to my spiritual life. And I suggest the same for you, the reader. It doesn’t matter the nature of your religion, or the lack thereof, but what does make a mental peace shift is the knowledge and belief of something/someone greater than myself. “Religion and belief are now seen by many researchers and clinicians as an important way to cope with trauma and distress thanks to research over the last three decades.” (Source: apa.org)
A Spiritual Viewpoint
That research identified positive and negative forms of religious coping as well as evidence that how people experience and express their faith has implications for their well-being and health. “People who made more use of positive religious coping methods had better outcomes than those who struggled with God, their faith, or other people about sacred matters” (apa.org Dr. Kenneth Pargament, Ph.D., professor emeritus of psychology at Bowling Green State University)
In a compilation book of reflections written for the 9/11 attacks in the USA titled “Franciscan Voices on 9/11”, we find this quote which I use to this day:
“In despair, we give up on our relationship with God. Doubt, on the other hand, is a sign that our faith is alive and kicking; it is part of the rhythm of faith itself. Lament is not a failure of faith, but an act of faith. We cry out directly to God because deep down we know our relationship with God counts; it counts to us and it counts to God. Even if we do not experience the closeness, we believe God does care. Even if God seems not to hear, we believe God is always within shouting distance. In the Scriptures, God does not say, “Do not fear, I will take away all the pain and struggle.” Rather, we hear, “You have no need to fear since I am with you””
7 ways to help face times of crisis in the world as both an optimist AND a realist
1. Remember, you’re not alone.
The daunting task of coping with times of crisis is not ours to struggle with alone. Seek out others who feel the same as you and, instead of complaining or despairing, work together on practical local solutions to the crisis.
2. Know that you are not a victim.
A victim is a person who suffers as a result of events happening to them that they can’t control. You may say that according to that definition we are victims of what’s happening in the world. But, if we change our perspective on how we define “world”, not meaning the entire globe, rather, defining my world as consisting of my local community, we can create reasonable expectations. Creating reasonable expectations allows us to actually do something to affect change locally. For example, it is unreasonable to make our personal goal that of world peace. However, creating a peaceful home, work, or local community is a reasonable personal goal.
3. Empower yourself and others.
Educate yourself about the struggles we’re facing (from multiple sources and points of view) and solutions tried in the past. Learn what worked in the past and what didn’t work. Figure out why it didn’t work and what you can do differently now to make positive change more likely. Seek out and obtain the resources needed to carry out your goal.
Our ability to work with others to find a solution to shared problems removes the label of “victim,” replacing it with “survivor.” Although we need to educate ourselves about the issues, it’s also important to keep a balance, allowing for some news-free periods.
4. Reclaim your power.
Once we realize that we are not powerless, our desire to implement change brings about renewed strength and optimism. Recognize the power and strength that you individually have, and that we as a group have, and find creative ways of using your power for the common good.
Do not let the power itself take over. Even if we feel invincible, in reality, we won’t always make the proper decisions. Learning from our mistakes is a sign of strength, for the knowledge gained from the mistake will help you to avoid that, or similar mistakes, in the future.
5. Focus your effort and your energy.
As I previously mentioned, our power and abilities are limited, so wisely focus your time and energy on those tasks which can be completed, and not on tasks you know are impossible for you to complete. No one person, or one group, can do everything.
6. Show empathy for others.
As we learn about the issues affecting our world, we begin to realize that many of our problems originate with people not understanding each other. We tend to view the world from our own perspective and only validate our own history, failing to recognize that those with whom we may disagree also view their world from their perspective and history.
Finding solutions to problems presupposes that all parties agree on the nature of the problem. Empathy, placing ourselves in the shoes of another, provides us a deeper understanding of the concerns of others. By viewing the world through their perspective, we become better informed and thereby better prepared to find and carry out real solutions. Empathy does not mean agreeing with another’s opinion. It simply means you see their perspective as they view it.
7. Don’t forget self-care.
The realist in me recognizes that to accomplish all of this, I will end up draining and wearing myself out. But in the union of the realist with the optimist, I recognize the need for self-care. Take time for yourself; keep up bonds with your family and friends; find activities or hobbies which do not relate to the work at hand; spend time in meditation and quiet to focus yourself.
Obviously, I do not propose these steps as absolute solutions to the current times of crisis of the world. But I do offer them as guides to keep us grounded in reality and keep us hopeful and passionate enough to experience mental peace make a lasting difference.
Inner peace and contentment are possible, no matter what happens in the world around us. Of course, we can’t control everything that goes on, but we can control our own reactions and how we let the news affect us.
Now more than ever, you need to stay informed about what is happening in the world. The news never stops, so you might be exposed to it constantly, whether you are watching a 24-hour news channel, receiving notifications on your phone, or scrolling through Twitter.
When you click on a shocking headline, there is always something new and scary to increase your anxiety, ramp up your stress, and inflame your anger. The toll the constant barrage of news updates has on your mental health is significant.
It is essential to stay informed, but don’t let the news consume us. Instead, find ways to stay positive and focus on the good things in our lives. For example, strengthen our relationships with the people we care about, do things we enjoy, and be kind to others.
We can’t change the world, but we can make a difference in our own corner of it. When reading a news article, take time to recall the information you just read. Write a note about what you just learned and how it is relevant to your daily life.
Yes, it is possible to have inner peace and contentment
To have inner peace and contentment, developing a personal news consumption strategy is vital. Here are a few tips to help get started:
1. Determine what is important to you and focus on the news that matters most.
2. Limit the amount of news you consume each day.
3. Be selective about the sources you rely on.
4. Take some time to reflect on the news you’ve consumed.
5. Be mindful of how the news affects your mood and emotions.
6. Make time for yourself each day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Developing a personal news consumption strategy can be challenging, but it’s worth it in the end.
Tips for developing a personal news consumption strategy
1. Decide what news sources you want to rely on and stick to them. This will help you develop a sense of trust in the information you’re getting and make it easier to verify the accuracy of stories.
2. Set aside time each day to read/watch the news. This will help you stay informed without feeling pulled in every direction and allow you to focus on individual stories.
3. Balance your news consumption with other activities. This will help you stay informed without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
4. Take breaks from the news. This will help you avoid getting stuck in a news cycle and allow you to come back to stories with a fresh viewpoint.
Figuring out your primary sources for news is the first step in creating a personal news consumption strategy. Once you know where to find the news you’re interested in, you can start to think about how much time you want to spend on it each day. It’s essential to be realistic about how much time you have and set boundaries.
You don’t have to consume the news in the same way everyone else does. Instead, you can develop your own strategy that works for you and helps you stay informed without feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
The goal of developing a personal news consumption strategy is to identify the most important topics to you and find the most reliable sources of information for those topics. Remember that not all sources of information are created equal. Some sources are biased, while others are simply inaccurate. Therefore, it is vital to find sources that you can trust to make informed decisions about the issues that are important to you.
Constant news exposure can have adverse effects on our mental health – it’s crucial to find a balance between staying informed and healthy. Make sure to take breaks from the news, and don’t forget to take care of yourself!
There’s no denying that the holidays can be stressful, taking away our peace of mind. Whether it’s family gatherings, shopping for gifts, or planning parties, there are plenty of things to worry about. This article covers the ways that you can find peace of mind during this busy holiday season.
This is the time of the year when I reflect upon my own childhood memories; memories filled with awe and wonder as the child-me viewed the world as a magical place. Unfortunately, this time of the year is also one of increased holiday season stress due to all the activities we feel we need to attend and accomplish. Our wish to make this time of the year “perfect” increases our expectations, many of them unreasonable, causing us to stress and lose peace of mind in our planning efforts.
Childhood Idyllic Perfection
As a child, I fondly recall watching the animated Christmas specials and reading all the Christmas books I could find. Those stories not only have positive endings, but most of them also depict perfection. In these stories families gather and get along with each other, the house is majestically decorated, the dining room table is set to rival the fanciest of restaurants. My favorite American painter, Norman Rockwell, painted scenes of American life; some showing pain and suffering, others idyllic life scenes. Rockwell’s holiday paintings are among my favorite as they depict a fictional world I wish existed, although knowing that a perfect world will never exist.
This longing of mine for an idyllic perfection of the holiday season, unlike the desire and longing of many other people, is part of the cause of our holiday season stress and lack of peace of mind. This view of a perfect holiday season is formed when we tend to focus our attention on the memories of the past, coupled with fictional idealisms of the holiday, producing a desire to re-create what never was, nor most likely ever will be. The holidays, as we perceived them in childhood, cannot now be reproduced through our adult perceptions, nor can we expect to create an experience depicted in the controlled environments of scripts, actors, and a stage.
The issue many of us encounter during the holiday season is one of the unrealistic expectations which creates the holiday season stress that takes away our peace. Trying to re-create a “perfection” that actually never existed means that we will fall short in our attempts. Not achieving our expectations is self interpreted as failure.
Find Peace of Mind Living In The Moment
We have control over our feelings only as experienced in the current moment. We need not lose the experience of what is happening at the moment by living in either the past or the future. Experience the present moment for what it is. As I recall my childhood memories of the holidays, I try to keep them focused in light of my experience of the current moment.
Don’t let an expectation of perfection cloud the beauty and the feelings of the moment. Enjoy the recollection of your memories without doing anything. Instead, live the moment without expectation and you will find that the holiday season stress for perfection will fade.
Tips To Find Peace Of Mind
During this holiday season, here are the steps I encourage you to work on to keep yourself as stress-free as possible:
· Refocus your expectations: Take time to reflect on your expectations, considering what is realistic and what is not realistic. For example, we may want a house decorated as we’ve seen in advertisements, but, no matter how hard we try it never looks as it does in the pictures. If you reframe your expectation and perception, you would recognize that you haven’t failed, actually, you created something unique, something that reflects you, not an ad.
· Change your perception: Changing the way we perceive ourselves will change our perception of our world. Therefore, changing our view of this time of the year will change our expectations and so reduce our stress. For example, if you are hosting family, and the reality is that your uncle always makes a fool of himself at these family gatherings, keep your perspective focused on that reality, not on how you wish he would act. Plan for what you can in expectation of your uncle’s shenanigans, for when your uncle acts as he always acts, don’t let it stress you; he is only doing as expected of him to do (at least he’s consistent).
· Learn from your past: It’s important to spend time reflecting on our past, honoring the memories for what they are, and sharing them with current family and friends. Our past has shaped who we are today. Use the lessons of the past to create a present moment of peace of mind. The purpose of the past is not to be recreated in the present, but to be incorporated with the present. Take what was positive for you in the past and use that in the present. What wasn’t positive for you in the past, modify it now in the present for it to be positive. Our past was not perfect; don’t expect the present to be perfect either.
· Simplify your life: Easier said than done, I know. But if you think about it, our material goods, although useful, can be a source of our stress when our focus emphasizes “things”. Living simply means keeping a proper focus, or perspective, on what is truly important in our life. Keep your expectations and perceptions rooted in who you are, not on who you think you should be.
During this holiday season, take the time to enjoy the wonders, joy, and magic of the season. Keep your perspective and expectations reasonable to reduce your holiday stress. Most importantly, focus on what is truly important to you!
“If one were to devise an experimental set of circumstances which would test the integrity of an individual’s mood control, one would invent the year-end holiday season.” Jonathan Himmelhoch (Psychiatrist, Western Psychiatric Institute, and Clinic)
If you are feeling down during the holiday season, there’s no need to worry. There are ways to cope with the holiday blues without having to resort to unhealthy habits. In this article, I’ll give you some helpful tips on how to get through the holiday season and find peace of mind.
Stress Depression and the Holiday Season
The holiday season blues are real, and according to at least one study, about half of us experience the holiday season blues (the survey reached 786 adults, 18 years or older Fall of 2006). But some people can’t find peace of mind so suffer the holiday season blues because they entered the holiday season already feeling sad, depressed, anxious, etc. The seemingly joyous time of the year enhances their depression and anxiety. As a result, many people feel more sad, depressed, anxious during this time than at any other time of the year.
What causes these feelings? Is it something in our genes that makes us susceptible to the holiday season blues? Or is it something we do, like spending too much money on gifts for family and friends? Are there ways to avoid getting into the holiday season blues?
I don’t think there is any other time of the year, which evokes such strong emotions as does this time of the year. For some of us, we are excited, joyous, filled with wonder and anticipation! We visit family and friends, host parties and gatherings, spreading joy everywhere we go! But yet some of us feel quite the opposite this time of the year. I think of those who recently lost a loved one, are suffering from physical or mental health issues, are separated from loved ones, and even estranged from the family. There are those whose past experience of the holidays wasn’t pleasant, and those who feel trapped in life situations.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” While these song lyrics may be accurate for some, they’re not necessarily right for everyone. I’m not writing this to bring down the mood, but what I am saying is that we need to be mindful of people around us who may be suffering while we celebrate. Some of my current clients are dreading these next few weeks, while other clients are looking forward to a new beginning!
Embrace Peace of Mind to Combat Holiday Season Blues
Regardless of how we feel about the holiday season, this time of the year finds many of us feeling the burden for perfection, and so a lack of peace of mind. As joyous as we may be, the expectations for a “Rockwell Christmas” haunt even the best of us.
While we still have our day-to-day tasks to complete, we must also decorate, buy gifts, and attend social functions. These expectations, especially if we feel obligated, can cause stress and anxiety even in those who enjoy the holiday season. Now imagine the stress and anxiety felt by those who are merely trying to cope with life itself, let alone the added expectation of the season.
How To Help Others Find Peace Of Mind While Coping With The Holiday Season Blues
What can we do to help someone who is suffering from finding peace of mind during this holiday season?
· Create awareness within yourself and your children that not everyone feels joyous this time of the year. This awareness is not meant to place a burden on us but as a recognition of the reality of others.
· Create an environment where all people feel open to honestly sharing their feelings. While attending or planning parties and gatherings don’t encourage everyone to participate. Be respectful of those who are having a difficult time participating. Try to plan activities that would allow a person to participate in the degree to which they feel comfortable.
· Be mindful that your expectations of what makes up a holiday celebration may not be the expectations of others. Allow yourself the flexibility to be open to the traditions of others as well as to how others may be feeling. For example, if you are organizing the family dinner, take into account any family members who have had a challenging year. Allow them space or the time to speak, or not speak, if they wish. Be aware that their showing up may have been a difficult task in and of itself.
· If you know someone struggling with a mental illness, or otherwise emotionally struggling, be a supportive friend. Allow time in your holiday schedule to be present to them, even if words aren’t spoken. Never underestimate the positive effect and healing quality of presence. If possible and appropriate, encourage them to join you at small gatherings and surround them with people who have their best interests at heart. Isolation, especially during the holidays, is not healthy.
· Encourage them to do activities focused on taking care of themselves and their emotional health, regardless of the expectations placed upon them by themselves or others. Help them to understand that It doesn’t make you a selfish person when you prioritize yourself, it is actually essential toward your well-being.
· Take time from the busyness of this season to be an active listener to those who wish to share their feelings. Encouraging and allowing others to share how they feel may be the most helpful thing you can do for them. If they are reluctant to share, lovingly help them by letting them know that you will listen without judgment regardless of what they wish to talk about and share.
During this holiday season, as many of us join together with our families and friends, let’s be grateful and joyous in our traditions and fellowship. But let’s not forget those who are emotionally suffering during the holiday season. Being respectful, understanding, and lovingly present is the best holiday gift a person can receive.
Finding hope and inner peace in life is not always an easy task. Still, a hopeless life can be gloomy, depressed, and anxious. In this article, I write about ways to find hope in life, thus happiness and inner peace.
It is essential to find and sustain hope in order to lead a happy and peaceful life. Yet most of us know what it’s like to live a desperate life. A life where nothing is going towards us and nobody understands. The ‘take him out’, ‘sleep’ or my favorite, ‘get through’ incentive doesn’t help at all. If only it was that easy to overcome the feeling of despair.
Hope is a mechanism of the human brain
Hope is a mechanism developed by the human brain to deal with contexts and situations that are not conducive to survival. Without, where can we find a sense of hope in the future or hope in someone’s talent, our motivation, our will to go forward? In the worst times, it’s hope that keeps me going.
That “knowledge” that says there will be better things in the future. Hope forces me to find the impossible possible because I believed it was possible and therefore claimed that the possible was already real.
Author and evangelicalist Hal Lindsey put it beautifully: “Man can live about forty days without food, about three days without water, about eight minutes without air…but only for one second without hope.”
The hope and inner peace of helping others
There are many challenges faced by those who provide care for others. Yet they know the inner peace and joy that comes with helping others.
“Studies have shown that even simply volunteering can change a person’s health and outlook. A United Health Group study stated that ‘We now know people who volunteer feel better physically, mentally and emotionally better. And our volunteers tell us that they are convinced their health is better because of the things they do when they volunteer.’” (hopegrows.net)
It’s natural to care for others’ suffering, and we’re reminded of this important attribute by recognizing how we can heal in our own lives. It’s important to be patient with ourselves and others in this process. If we all contribute to this healing process, then we can break through those walls of self-sabotage and start to see changes in ourselves that are positive and significant. These changes will lead us to inner peace.
What’s the best way to deal with your fear and anger when witnessing other’s suffering? Stop to consider what else is going on, what message the suffering is trying to convey, and what you can do to help the sufferer heal. Their healing may teach you about yourself, giving you the gift of healing yourself.
… “(W)henever you feel overwhelmed, go back to the basics: pause, ground yourself, take a few very deep breaths, exhaling negativity, inhaling calm. Take the time to notice what you are feeling, holding the pain of the world with compassion, … breathing in Peace and Hope” (shamanicspiritualhealing.com)
My suggestions for finding hope in life
Do what you know you can do. Move forward by doing the things you know you can do. Maybe you can make the bed or get out of bed, celebrate small victories, as these will eventually become the necessary lessons for finding hope.
Take some kind of action. Helping someone else not only shows that there are good people in the world, but it also gives you the success and external pride of supporting another person. This feeling of pride that makes you feel healthy will lead to a sense of hope knowing that if you can help someone else, you can help yourself too.
Surround yourself with optimism. The attitudes of those around us affect our mood. Surrounding yourself with positive and hopeful people makes you positive and optimistic. Find out who are the positive people in your life and follow them.
Allow inspiration. Read inspiring books or quotes, strengthen your faith, return to your place of worship, do whatever it takes to believe and feel the existence of something greater than you. Knowing that a prayer community wants to help you and believe that something is higher than you gives us hope that we are not alone.
Spend time in nature. It is great to see and feel the depth of nature’s beauty. Look for the tiny insects and creatures. Think about how they survive and even thrive in their environment, given their size and lack of intelligence. If the insect can do it, you can too!
How you find hope in life is essential to finding the motivation to move forward, grow, and be the best person you can be. Do not lose your hope. Hold on and enjoy the ride.
Happiness has more importance than just feeling good. Happiness is also essential to your health, longevity, success, and relationships. This is all proven by research and science. Happiness is healthy!
We’re seeking something more out of life, and happiness is what we think will solve our issues. Yet happiness comes and goes; it’s a fleeting emotion. As I’ve written in previous articles, our goal should not be happiness. Instead, our goal should be inner peace.
Therefore, happiness is not the end; it’s a means we use to get to the end, inner peace.
The importance of happiness is often discounted in a culture obsessed with material success. Still, it’s hard to purchase something that will make you happy in the long term.
Your happiness isn’t just important to you. It’s also important to your friends, family, and your employer.
Consider these ideas:
- Happy people are healthier. Happier people get sick less frequently and less severely on average. Happy people visit the hospital less often. A bad mood is bad for your immune system, too.
- Happy people are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression. Your physical and mental health are at greater risk when you’re not happy.
- Healthcare is costly. Happiness can be a great way to save a lot of money.
- Happy people live longer. Several studies suggest that the happiest people live up to 10 years longer than those that are the least happy. Since happy people are healthier, they also tend to live longer too. Happiness can do more to boost your lifespan than just about anything else. It’s free, too.
- Happy people are more resistant to stress. Unhappy people are more easily overwhelmed when stressed. Happy people are better able to handle stress, and the effect that stress has on them is decreased. Being happy makes you more capable.
- Happy people are more successful. It’s worth asking if successful people are successful because they’re happy. Or are they happy because they’re successful? It’s likely a little of both. Happy people are more productive, have better relationships, and handle stress better.
- Happy people enjoy more robust relationships. Would you rather be around someone that was happy most of the time or someone that was not? Being happy can boost all of your relationships, including those with your partner, family, friends, and coworkers.
- Think about the happiest people you know. They tend to have great friendships and intimate relationships. They are close to their families, too.
- Unhappy people are often alone and have challenging relationships when they do have people in their lives.
- Happy people get more done. Happy people are more productive and are better employees. Think about how much better you take care of your home when you’re happy versus those times you’re unhappy. If you have an open position at work, consider happiness as a factor when hiring.
- Happy people have more friends. Of course, they have more friends. Happy people attract others. We enjoy being around people that are in a positive emotional state. We avoid those that aren’t. If you want to have more plans for the weekend, be happier!
- Happy people are more creative. A happy mind is more open to new ideas and concepts. A happy person is more likely to have a sound creative idea than someone unhappy.
- If you’re struggling to find a solution to a problem, put yourself in a happy state first. You’ll be much more likely to find the answer you need.
We often postpone happiness for a later date. We decide that we’ll be happy after we finish school, buy a house, save a certain amount of money, or find the person of our dreams. This is a mistake. Being unhappy harms yourself and everyone else in your life.
Do yourself and everyone else in your life a huge favor and make your happiness a priority!
Inner peace and happiness are possible even during a long-lasting pandemic. The “new normal” is a phrase that has entered our everyday speech, along with terms such as “social distancing,” “physical distancing,” or “PPE.” Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our lives have been changed.
To think that almost a year ago, we weren’t living under the restrictions of a pandemic! I still remember the day I was told to leave work. We all were under the impression we’d return in a couple of weeks. Just a brief “vacation” of sorts. Who knew that almost a year later, I’m still working from home. Life has changed for all of us, and we don’t know when it’ll end. And that not knowing is the origin of our stress taking away our inner peace.
The idea of a “new normal” is problematic and causes many of us to feel anxious. Friends and clients of mine worry that life may never be how it was before the pandemic. Yes, that may be true. But I wonder if a return to life as it was is in our best interest.
How The Modern World Necessitates Inner Peace
“The modern world takes a heavy toll on all of us. Smart technology, internet everywhere we go, and an emerging all-access work culture that expects us to be “on” whenever possible. Lunch breaks become shorter, weekends become extinct, and vacations become something you put off for your retirement. And it’s not always a matter of choice.” Source: hackspirit.com
Whenever we don’t see an end to hardship or feel trapped without any choices, our stress and anxiety increase. Think of your current situation to understand this concept. The answer to finding inner peace and happiness during a pandemic is found in our perceptive shift. We need to find choices in our life to stop feeling trapped.
When we focus on a new normal, we compare our present moment with our past moments. As I reflect on my past moments before COVID, I recall many positive aspects of my life and our society. Yet, I also remember that there were negative aspects, too.
Might it be possible that this time of “difference” in your life and society may also be a time to create a “new normal”? Might this present moment be an opportunity to move into the future of possibilities?
I propose a shift in perspective where we focus on the positive elements of now and plan how we’ll continue them when the pandemic is no longer an issue.
Instead of a return to normal, let’s proactively work toward a positive new normal, which will, over time, simply be lived as “normal.”
Feel the truth that you’re safe and loved
“Remind yourself that you’re breathing. And hopefully, you’re physically protected,” says Julie Potiker, mindful self-compassion teacher and author of Life Falls Apart, But You Don’t Have To: Mindful Methods for Staying Calm in the Midst of Chaos “Think about the people you care about, and the people who care about you,” Potiker suggests, saying that focusing on that can lower your panic-response. “Let the truth of that warm your heart.” Source: oprahmag.com
My Lesson Opportunities To Find Inner Peace During COVID
Normal is what we’re used to, but our routines have been challenged for almost a year. Longing for normal means a longing for the past. Challenge yourself to find the positives of today and look to a “new normal” filled with possibilities.
Let go of victim thinking
These COVID events are not targeted to you individually, even if you are affected by them. A victim is a person devoid of choices. You have options today. Some aspects of our lives are beyond our control, yet other elements are in your control. Learn the difference and focus on those areas of your life you can change and make changes.
Re-connection with family
Quarantines, for better or worse, have forced families to be together. No family dynamic is perfect, but think about it, has your family grown closer? Have you eaten more dinners together or started game nights? Lack of commuting, virtual schooling, and telework are providing families more time together. How can this togetherness become your new normal?
Find your inner peace
Anger has a way of taking over life, spilling onto people or events we aren’t even angry about. Our society is sharing in this everyday new normal, enabling us to better understand each other in our shared experience. Take the energy of your anger and shift it to a passion of service toward your family, community, or society.
I grew up in the decades before the internet and the existence of social media. I recall spending much of my time with my friends in person. We can’t physically spend time with friends during quarantine, but we can use our technology for good. Spend time with your friends via the internet, where you can see each other and share in a group conversation and group activities. If this interaction with your friends is new to you, how can you maintain this new normal in the future?
Be kind to others and yourself
As a society, we are coping with the pandemic in our own ways. I’ve experienced, though, that many people seem a bit nicer and more patient. We’re in this together. Many messages we hear lately are reminders to take care of ourselves during the quarantine. Self-care is essential for us to do daily. How will you continue, daily, taking care of yourself and being kind to others in this new normal?
What aspects of this future new normal would you like to keep? What would you like to change or stay the same? Make a list for you and your loved ones.
I challenge you to shift your perspective to look at this period of life from a negative attitude and look at it from a positive one. We can create a future filled with positive experiences. Don’t let this past year pass you by without walking away with healthy learning. Let’s proactively shape the future we want to live in.
Grief is a typical human experience, but the COVID-19 pandemic has upended many of the ways we usually manage the loss. Here are my tips on coping healthily with your grief.
Grief is one of those emotions that many of us think of only during the loss of a loved one. And while this is the grief, many of us experience grief, and the grieving process, can happen whenever we have a loss.
During COVID-19, we have experienced many deaths, and those events elicit feelings of grief, but almost everyone has experienced loss due to the coronavirus. We have lost employment, lost freedom of movement lost ability to meet with family and friends as we used to, and lost a sense of control over our lives. All of these are losses that can lead us to feel grief.
The Mayo Clinic reports that “In addition to feeling grief over the loss of life caused by COVID-19, you’re likely grieving the loss of your normal routine.” Check out my article on this topic written a couple of months ago by clicking here.
“Not only are people now grappling with the loss of normalcy, but also with anticipatory grief, or the feeling that greater loss is yet to come.” (Very Well Mind) Some of the grief we feel comes from feeling that we are not in control and worry about future changes. Focusing on the unknown of the future causes stress and anxiety, increasing the grief felt due to our losses.
Grief affects everyone differently, and for some, grief can be expressed through depression and anger. If you or a loved one appears to be depressed or is becoming “short-fused” or angry, the root issue may be stress created by underlying grief of a loss of normalcy.
If you or someone you know is experiencing grief, try these steps for coping with your grief. They work for me.
Using mindfulness, pay attention to your emotions. Keeping your thoughts and feelings in the present moment, experiencing your current feelings, will help guide you to understand those feelings you wish to change. Then you can take control of changing those feelings.
Stay connected to people. Even though many of us are social distancing and not gathering in groups, don’t isolate. Meetings with individuals while physically distancing allows you to stay in touch, as does technology.
Practice self-care. Do actions that are positive and healthy for you. Eat well, pick up hobbies, rest, and be kind to yourself.
Feeling well takes time. Changes in your emotional outlook take time, so have patience with yourself. You will feel better in hindsight, but while going through the emotion, it feels like forever. Remind yourself to let the process take its course.
Validate your feelings. Feelings are simply our response to a situation. Feelings are neither right nor wrong. So, how you’re feeling is valid. If you wish to change your feelings, fine, work on that, but don’t judge your feelings or use phrases like “I shouldn’t feel this way.”
Grief from COVID-19 is not your fault. Your losses are yours, as are your feelings. You have control over your response to what has happened to you. You are empowered to cope with your grief, healthily.
Why aren’t you happy? This is a question we often ask ourselves, answering ourselves with excuses we tell ourselves. Can I be happy? Sure, you can, but are you sure you want to be happy?
I find that today, listening to the news and hearing people bickering about politics is not easy to be happy. Even if I am happy, once I hear about more violence in the country, I’m no longer happy. So why aren’t you happy? Try to be happy in today’s culture!
Fair observation. Outside forces and experiences can and do take away our happiness. Being happy isn’t always easy, but it does happen. You may want to check out a previous article of mine I titled: “Happiness Is Not The Answer But Here’s What Is.”
In that article, I wrote: “Happiness is a fleeting emotion which comes and goes. As such, happiness can’t be a life goal. This is why I don’t encourage people to seek happiness as a life goal.” My premise is that we need to focus on inner peace instead of a fleeting of happiness. But for the purpose of this article, I’m content with using the word happy.
Many times we lose our happiness due to outside factors, but I find I lose my happy feeling because of my own inner issues. We can be our worst enemy when it comes to keeping or losing our happiness. The positive side to this is that if I’m my worst enemy, can’t I also be my own best friend? Yes!
Our thoughts are actually our own creation. They may seem to pop up in our heads, but in reality, we create them. So, since we create them, we can change or delete them. A favorite quote by Dr. Judith Beck, Ph.D., is “just because I think it doesn’t mean its true.” Just because there’s a negative thought about me, doesn’t mean its a right thought. As a child, I used to have the thought I was Superman. Obviously, having that thought didn’t make it accurate. So why do we put faith in negative thinking about ourselves?
Here are my ways of keeping my happiness:
- Thoughts: Learn and believe that I’m the creator of my thoughts, and so I can change those thoughts whenever I want. If you’re not feeling happy, check your thoughts to discover what you’re telling yourself. If you’re telling yourself unhappy thoughts, then, of course, you will feel unhappy.
- Perspective: The way we view the world around us becomes our reality. If we focus our thoughts on the negative, of course, all you will perceive is negative. The more you look for the positive, the more positive you will find. And if your perspective is positive based, so will your thoughts.
- Kindness: Have you noticed that many times we are kinder to others than we are to ourselves? Learn to treat yourself as you treat others. If you are patient with others or give them the benefit of the doubt, do the same to yourself.
- Mindfulness: Practice living in the moment, feeling what you’re feeling without judgment. Learn those times when you aren’t happy, and teach yourself ways to become happy.
- Keep Going: Just when life is going great and you’re feeling comfortable, we tend to self-sabotage. We stop ourselves just before we achieve our success through the thoughts of not feeling worthy or of not thinking you really can achieve this. Don’t allow those thoughts to influence you. You made it this far, keep going.
Why aren’t you happy? It might be your own thoughts. Change your thoughts, and you can once again feel happy.