Managing Your Mind During Coronavirus

Are you taking the COVID-19 outbreak seriously? Are you staying home a good deal of the day? Are your health worries elevated? Is your income going downhill? Are you driving yourself crazy thinking about what might happen to you and your loved ones? Yes, all these concerns are valid. So, what will you do? Panic? Or learn how to cope with uncertainty by actively managing your mind?

But what do you know how to manage your mind? Have you ever read a book on it? Not likely. You may have read books on weight management, time management and money management. But mind management? Thought management? Not hot topics … until now. 

The way you think has a huge effect on how well you’ll cope with this new reality. How you frame your thoughts matters. “It’s not what you think; it’s how you think it!” So here are a few ideas on how to tame your fears without undermining the seriousness of our new reality:

1. Control what you can; let go of what you can’t. 

You can’t sit this coronavirus down and tell it, “You’ve been behaving badly.” Or threaten to send it to its room for an extended time-out if it won’t stop hurting people. But you can listen to the medical experts who tell you how important it is to constantly wash your hands (while singing two refrains of Happy Birthday!), use hand sanitizer and stay at least 6 feet away from others. Doing what you can do rather than focusing on what you can’t do will help relieve your anxiety. 

2. Appreciate a Slower Lifestyle

If you’ve been living a crazy, busy lifestyle — running here, running there, taking care of this, taking care of that — until you collapse at the end of the day, staying at home might feel like a prison sentence. There’s so much you can’t do! So many people you can’t see! So many places you can’t visit! 

But what if you view this time at home as a gift? A time to be quiet, to sit still, to do nothing. No, it won’t be easy. You’ll probably get buggy, viewing it as a complete waste of time. After all, you’ve got so much to do! There’s no time to rest and reflect. Daily responsibilities gobble up your day. And what is lost? Or, should I say, what part of you is lost?

Once you get past the resistance to being still, however, that stretch of time might become the best part of your day. Being centered, being in the moment can bring about a deep sense of well-being that can ease your tension and calm your fears. Stay still long enough and you’ll begin to know yourself in a new way. 

3. Catch Up on Tasks You Put Off

Okay, so you can’t stay still all day!  So what are you going to do after you’ve taken some time to just be? Think about all the things you were going to do if only you had the time and energy? Were you going to clean out your closets? Have fun time with your kids? Or spouse? Organize your papers? Read a book? Call a long lost friend? Update your resume? Play a game?

Whatever it is, don’t keep putting it off again. This is your opportunity to do it. You’ve got the time, the energy, the desire. Go, do it now!

4. Use Positive Words

“Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never harm me!” Wrong, wrong, wrong. Your self-talk, like your thinking, can harm you. Say exaggerated things to yourself and you’ll ramp up your fears. So, don’t minimize this serious situation but don’t maximize it either.

We will get through this. We will take care of ourselves. We will take care of each other. We will become more courageous, more compassionate, more charitable.

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