Tuesday, March 17, 2020 (Updated July, 2021)
Challenging times are well…challenging and the pandemic is no exception. I know this feels hard. I know it’s unsettling. You may have already have had a personal meltdown or feel one coming on. I get it. No, really. Mine was Sunday morning. A full-blown couldn’t-catch-my-breath blubber festival during which I texted a jumbled, woe is me ramble to my sister-in-law…except that it went out to my entire 18-person extended family group string (on my husband’s side). Of course, I didn’t realize this until I got the first reply back.
“mom. oh my god, stop. 🙄”
Right. A little snarky, but right nonetheless. I needed to…STOP. I immediately grabbed my sneakers and headed out for a grounding nature walk, my time-tested antidote to anxiety. It worked. It always does. And with a much more clear and calm mind and heart, I then wrote down seven ways to find grace and alleviate suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic. These are strategies we can implement anytime, but I hope they serve you and your family particularly during this time of uncertainty.
1) Focus on the positive.
Each of us has the power to choose our response to curveballs. We can let them bonk us in the head or we can mindfully choose to navigate them with grace. Though I forgot all about this for a few moments on Sunday, I know finding grace is made easier when I focus on the positive. Going forward, I’m intentionally choosing to pay much closer attention to all the generosity, goodness, and kindness happening all around us right now.
2) Practice compassion.
Today, I received more calls and emails from a school administrator regretfully postponing their professional development day scheduled with us in the coming month and beyond. I thoughtfully replied with encouragement and understanding. As I did so, I felt my heart fill with genuine empathy, compassion, and even love. Powerful stuff. And feels a heck of a lot better than despair and worry.
3) Uncover the opportunity.
As I hunker down at home like you, away from the structure and routine that tends to help me feel safe, I choose to uncover the opportunity. For the foreseeable future, my college and high school-age children are home…and they currently have rap music blasting upstairs with the base up so high I wonder if my brain matter might come out through my ears. But my heart is also bursting wide open with gratitude. My children are home. My family is safe. All is well. The opportunity in this case? Well, they don’t know it yet, but they’ll be cleaning and organizing our mudroom tomorrow. 😉
4) Stay connected.
Implementing physical social distancing is a MUST, but that doesn’t mean we should isolate ourselves completely. Stay in close touch with your friends and family via phone or videoconference. Check-in, share your feelings, support and be supported. Ask for help. Offer yours. Use social media to find positive messages and people and follow them. Find ways to stay involved in the communities that ‘fill your bucket’ whether that means joining the conversation at your yoga studio’s Facebook page, or ‘attending’ your church’s weekly mass that is now held online.
5) Get outside.
Getting sunshine, fresh air and movement into your daily routine, particularly if you can do so in a natural setting, is good for your physical and mental health. Period. It’s grounding, cleansing and can be an incredible mood booster. Mindful walking elicits the relaxation response as we notice, smell, feel and interact with the natural world simply by paying attention to it. It’s also free and relatively safe. Just do it. And don’t forget to nourish yourself with healthy food and rest, too!
6) Write Down 5 Things for Which You are Grateful.
Are negative thoughts threatening to overwhelm your positive mindset? Try this: Grab a notebook or Post-it and write down 5 things for which you are grateful in that very moment. It could be the snuggle time you had with your child earlier in the day, the running water in your house that is safe to drink, or maybe it’s the 30 minutes you were finally able to carve out to write this blog post (oh wait, that’s mine!). Write them down and post them up every single day where you can see them – like your frig or your bathroom mirror. Invite your family to join you in this practice – an especially great activity and discussion for winding down to bedtime.
7) Be Generous.
Being generous is FUN, a wonderful way to serve, and is so very contagious! It’s also empowering as it provides us an opportunity to be good citizens and community members by doing something positive and impactful for others. Ask, what can I do at this moment? How can I be useful and supportive? There’s always something, even it’s simply making meaningful eye contact with a stranger (from a minimum of 6 ft. away, of course) and offering up a genuine smile.
Inspired by these concepts? You can also explore them with your students using the following Yoga 4 Classrooms Activity Cards and Yoga for Children-Yoga Cards:
- Change the Channel
- Be Content
- Explore the Outdoors
- Practice Peace
- Eat Smart
- Get Your Zzzz’s
- Gratitude Relaxation
- Be Content
- Open Heart
- Big White Star
- Peace Breath
- Nature Walk Meditation
Let us know how else we can support you. And please, take care of yourself. We’ve got this!
With peace, positivity, and gratitude,
Founder, CEO: Yoga 4 Classrooms