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!
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.
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 Greenfield, Adventure 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.