I was recently asked to speak on the topic “Remaining Positive and Focused in Uncertain Times,” at my local Chamber breakfast on November 4th, the morning after the election. It’s an important topic and seems to be top of mind for most of us these days.
Regardless of your political stance, it’s impossible to ignore that this year, 2020, has created levels of anxiety, stress and uncertainty that we have not seen in decades. Everyone I speak to feels it on some level.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot and looking for resources and tools that seem to be most helpful to people to stay in balance. Here’s the best of what I came up with.
- Prioritize well-being. While most of us know what we need to do to take care of ourselves, we often don’t do it. Now is a good time to bump it up on our to-do list. Take care of your body. You need to eat real foods; you need to move regularly. Have a regular schedule, get enough sleep. Our bodies and minds function better with consistency. Drink enough water, limit alcohol and caffeine.
- Define priorities. Your well being has to start with you. No one else is going to do it for you. Make a list of what you need to do on a regular basis to feel your best. If you want to workout three times a week, schedule it on your calendar and (this is key) treat it as you would any important commitment. Make it non-negotiable. A commitment to yourself is just as important as any other promise.
- Have a regular centering practice. The popularity of meditation apps such as Calm and Headspace points to the need everyone has for some quiet in their minds, time for reflection, particularly during stressful or highly charged times. You can try starting with one of these apps or another that appeals to you. You can find stress-relieving practices that take as little as three minutes. The point is to quiet your mind and emotions. If meditation isn’t your thing, it can be an early morning walk in the quiet with your dog or a quiet time of prayer. The point is to do something and make it a regular part of your life. The more you engage consistently in this type of practice, the better you will become at managing your mind and emotions.
- Decide on your boundaries. Defining boundaries is simply deciding what you will and will not do. What do you need to do to protect your energy? Is there an activity, situation or person that constantly drains you? Do you need to take a break from the news? What do you need to say no to?
- Seek support. 2020 has been a tumultuous year and it’s not over. Anxiety and depression have been surging in this country. COVID-19, a contentious election, racial unrest, extreme weather resulting in natural disasters, and the economy have taken a toll. Don’t be afraid to seek support. Support can be in the form of a trusted friend, family or community member, or a professional. There is no shame in asking for help. On the contrary, it’s the smart thing to do.
Prioritizing self-care, compassion toward self and others, and considering what you can do to make a positive difference is available to all of us. How do we want to show up, what are our most important values and how can we honor them. Reflecting on this time as a path to living and deepening one’s own sense of purpose and mission can empower new energy and direction.