By Jennifer Kunst, PhD, author of Wisdom from the Couch

Everyone is taxed beyond imagination as we move through this global pandemic. What are we to do to keep ourselves sane and grounded? Here, I offer you some guidance, which I hope will help along your way.

First and foremost, manage as gracefully as you can. Accept the fact that this is hard. We are going to have ups and downs; that is the natural course of a psychological struggle like this. All we can do is try to take care of our mental and physical health. Here are a few ideas:

  • Breathe more intentionally, even for just ten minutes a day. If you need some guidance, there are free online resources that will walk you through the basics of mindfulness meditation. 
  • Get some fresh air. Go for a walk. Sit on the porch or the balcony. Get some sun. Smell the rain. Even if you have to be creative about it, connect somehow with Mother Nature. She will help hold you and heal you.
  • Indulge in the tastes of your favorite things, at least a little and not too much. Treat yourself. Make that favorite recipe or get take-out from a special place. Maybe you don’t usually eat pizza. Now is the time for pizza.
  • Take on a small project around the house. Clean a drawer, fix a piece of furniture, change a light bulb, and organize that stack on the corner of the kitchen table. The feeling of satisfaction will lift your spirits.
  • Do something good for someone else. Call a neighbor and ask if they need anything. Check on an old friend or the elderly parents of an old friend. Send someone a box of chocolates or some tea. Wave hello to a stranger. Put some positive energy out into the universe.
  • Laugh. Play games; tell jokes, pull a friendly prank, send around funny and uplifting stories and cartoons on your social media. 
  • Talk about your feelings to someone you trust, and listen to those who share their feelings with you. Don’t try to solve anything. Just be present to one another.
  • And don’t forget the basics. Wash your hands. Don’t touch your face. Get a good night’s sleep, as best as you can. Eat regularly and healthfully. Drink lots of water. Take your medicine. Move around.

One of my childhood friends from New York City shared that he has been washing his hands for 20 seconds to the song, “You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.” It is very comforting for him, not only because it is better than the happy birthday song, but because his mama used to sing it to him. We all need our mamas right now. Whether the one you call your mama is the one who gave birth to you, or a teacher, pastor, friend, partner, coach, sponsor, or therapist. Turn to her in your mind’s eye. Talk to her like you used to. And during the ups and downs, when your efforts fail, let her carry you through.

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