Sunday, 15 November 2020

Coping with a global pandemic

How does one maintain some semblance of balance, positivity, sanity, peace, health and focus during these fraught times? It's a struggle for me, a constant work-in-progress, but here are a few things that help me stay afloat, at worst, and bring me joy, at best. 



1. Plants and nature. There is something very healing and balancing about tending green, growing things and observing nature. This plant to the left is my pony tail palm (beaucarnea recurvata) that has been languishing for months, root bound, in a too-small pot. (It's a succulent, not a palm, btw.) If it wasn't such a hardy plant it might have expired from neglect already. I recently scrubbed this pot that used to house my old lavender and replanted the pony tail in it. With more than enough space, new soil and a generous helping of fertilizer it should begin thriving again. It looks happier already. I'm sure it feels happier--and so do I! 







2.
 Meditation. I'm a total neophyte at it but I've tried to make it a habit since the lockdown started. I don't manage to meditate every day but on the days that I do it DOES make a difference. For some people, this practice might take the form of prayer. Whatever centering practice you prefer, do it! Or do several. It does calm the mind and relax the body. I promise.



3. Counting blessings and nurturing gratitude. I'm in the habit of counting my blessings--have been doing this for several decades--but it was only this year that I followed Steve Harvey's advice and made a list of all that I'm grateful for: family, friends, trees, plants, rain... I include even the simplest things like indoor plumbing and electricity. Health. Birdsong. The ability to think, breathe, move, see, hear, smell, taste. I make a habit of taking little for granted. 



4. Dreams, hopes and plans. It's healthy to have things to look forward to. I know I'm going to sound like a Steve Harvey acolyte here, but I started watching his shows on YT for the laughs and came away with so much more. I followed his advice to make a list of 300 things I wanted. That list took me a long time--weeks or months--before I hit 300. I broke things into small pieces. For example, instead of just writing that I wanted a garden of my own again some day soon, I listed separately all the plants I wanted: the herbs, vegetables, flowers, fruits etc that I wanted to grow again, or grow for the first time. 

You want new shoes? List the types and colors. (Don't go overboard with this. You don't want the entire list to consist of clothes, bags and shoes. The same goes for books: my reading wish list alone has more than 300 titles.) You want to travel when restrictions ease up? List each country individually. What about those medical checkups, the dental work, the documents that need to be renewed, selling your car, getting rid of the things you don't need or use... You want to climb mountains? Sail around the world in a boat you built yourself? Go back to school? Adopt a child? Adopt a puppy? List them all. Let it sink into your brain that you have all these things to do, or see, or experience, or achieve. You have a future to look forward to. It helps to keep hopelessness at bay.

5. YouTube! My screen time has increased dramatically this year--like most people's I believe. I've made a conscious decision to cut down and cut back because it was getting out of hand. I now minimize some types of content (politics! coronavirus news! toxic humans!) and maximize others. I choose to watch content that feeds the soul, that brings joy, that cheers me up. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Gardening channels such as Planterina, Self Sufficient Me and The Gardening Channel with James Prigioni. I get happily lost in videos of beautiful plants and the caring of them. 
  • Comedy. Laughter is good for the soul. It lightens the spirit, reminds us that we're together in this mess called life, allows us to chuckle at ourselves and others. In addition to my favorite standup comedians (Dave Chappelle, George Carlin) I've discovered lots of new (to me) performers on the Dry Bar Comedy channel. 
  • Channels that promote healthy, harmonious, sustainable and adventurous living. I make a point of subscribing to my favorites since these channels contribute towards the livelihood of the owners through ads and sponsorship. (I let the ads run for at least 30 seconds so the owners of the channels can get paid.) These channels feature themes such as van life, tiny home living, organic gardening, sustainable living/permaculture, DIY, preservation of the environment, respect for people and cultures, kindness, love of nature ... Here are the ones I frequent most: Rob GreenfieldAdventure Rich, The Nomadic Movement, Amelia & JP, Trent and Allie, Kalle Flodin--all people who are living their lives unconventionally and whose principles I endorse to some degree. 
  • Films. I don't subscribe to Netflix, but I have a comprehensive list of films I found on YouTube. Some are perennial favorites that I re-watch now and then. Others are movies that I've always wanted to see or have recently discovered. More and more I'm drawn to older films, the classics from my parents' time and from my childhood. I find them much gentler on my spirit.
  • Exercise. This is the hardest one for me, but it makes a world of difference to my sense of well-being and my mood. Whether it's walking, yoga, spin, dance, Pilates, whatever--just do it. You'll be glad you did.
There's so much more that helps: connecting with family and friends on the phone, an occasional bottle of wine, my writing, editing for my clients, exchanging text messages and voice notes with grandkids, posting plant pics on Instagram... Whatever feeds you, lifts you, energizes you, do it. And if you can do something for someone else, that helps too. Be kind to someone. A neighbor who has no car or who is elderly and afraid to leave the house would appreciate it if you offered to pick up some groceries for her/him. If you can afford to, make a contribution to a cause that makes the world a better place. Help to support an artist by signing up for his or her Patreon. Give that tired cashier or the security guard taking your temperature a heartfelt smile of gratitude. And remember...

It's good to be alive, every single day. 

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