Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak as an actual Pandemic and while they’re stressing that this label isn’t cause for alarm, that we’re all supposed to keep doing what we’re doing to slow down the spread of the virus, of course…many of us are panicking.
Whether the panic comes from fear of the unknown, from stories we’re reading in the news designed to alarm while they inform or from seeing the videos and memes of those interesting folks hoarding toilet paper (people!), the concern is real and palpable.
We’re allowed to feel these things. Feel them and move through them.
This is uncharted territory as far as viruses and epidemics go so if we aren’t sure how to respond, that’s okay.
But you know what isn’t uncharted territory?
And using Hope to Motivate Action.
I haven’t seen too many social media posts or news stories that are telling us how to keep our hopes up, keep our spirits up – it mostly been doom and gloom along with the hand washing tips.
So let’s talk about Hope…and using Hope in the way we know how…to motivate us to action and focuse on making our futures better than today!
Here are five ways to stay hopeful in the face of a pandemic.
#1 – Focus on what you can control
There is so much about this world situation that we can’t control. Its just the reality of our lives, pandemic or otherwise. Focusing on what we can’t control – other people, the economy, decisions made by governments, schools or sports teams – isn’t helpful but we can control our response to it. Ways to stay hopeful while controlling what we can control are to wash our hands, turning off the news when we notice our stress levels rising and keep moving our bodies to generate some of those natural endorphins that will alleviate our stress.
Another thing you can control are your response plans should you be personally affected by the virus. I don’t mean stocking up on supplies so others can’t access them (put down the toilet paper!) but I do mean identifying what you would need for 14 days at home – do you have enough of your prescription medications? Another way to prepare is to find out who does grocery delivery in your area, where someone will deliver groceries to your door safely, without touching anyone or anything. Could be an option unless/until those services are cancelled in the short term.
I think one of the really key things is to limit, or censor, is where we’re getting our information about COVID-19. There is so much information out there and depending on the “spin” the media outlet is putting on the information, it could be designed to sensationalize the outbreak or cause extremist thinking, making the situation appear more dire than it is. Clearly, this is an important and serious event occurring in our world but be smart about it, question what you hear from unconfirmed sources and go directly to the authorities for your information – such as the World Health Organization website, your local health authority and other official bodies. Facebook and TMZ are not your most reliable sources and spreading that kind of “fake news” is harmful to all of us so please continue to be the smart and savvy folks I know you to be.
#2 – Move your body
I was at Rachel Hollis’ RISE! conference in Toronto this past weekend and one of the biggest takeaways for me was her advice to move your body for 30 minutes each day. She was very intentional about the language she used, deliberately not saying “work-out for 30 minutes” or “run for 30 minutes”, but the easy-to-follow, “move your body”. We can all move our bodies for 30 minutes! At the conference, we did a ridiculous amount of dancing…and it was so fun! You could go for a brisk walk, provided you’re not quarantined to your house, of course. And if you are being asked to stay inside, what about jogging up and down your stairs, or finding an old Richard Simmons video on YouTube?! So many ways to move our bodies, regardless of your fitness level.
According to one study, moving your body for as little as 30 minutes a day for 10 days in a row has been shown to be sufficient enough to produce a significant reduction in depression among clinically depressed people due to the number of endorphins released. Moving your body is as good (if not, better!) for your mind as it is for your body and for sure, any movement is going to make your future better than it is today. How hopeful is that?
#3 – Work towards your goals
Lets say you are quarantined for 14 days as a precaution…that might be okay! How many times have you thought to yourself, “oh, if only I could have time to get things done that I’ve been putting off while I’ve been too busy with kids activities and social events?”. Be real…I feel like we’ve all probably said it 🙂 Now’s the time! If you’re confined to your house, take the opportunity to do a little spring cleaning, maybe re-arrange that bedroom you’ve been meaning to get organized and what about printing and hanging all those family pictures you’ve been meaning to display? I bet your kids could help by purging some toys and organizing their bookshelf by color.
The other beauty of our world over the past decade is the rise in online opportunities for learning…and many are free or super low cost! Do you know about LinkedIn’s learning platform, Lynda? Or what about Udemy, the world’s largest selection of online courses? Of course, YouTube is totally free and Pinterest and Instagram have incredible tutorials to learn to cook, DIY decorate and more.
Crossing things off your list of things to do will help you to feel super hopeful, accomplished and looking forward to a less-cluttered, more productive future.
#4 – Identify your Bucket List
Another thing I realized while at the Rise! conference was that I don’t often take the time for conscientious reflection. To ask myself hard questions about my past and it’s impact on my present and also to be intentional about identifying my goals, dreams and other priorities. Whether it’s a result of not having time and space to pause and work on these things or because it makes me uncomfortable to get that real with myself, the three days of the conference brought the importance of this work into the forefront for me.
If you’re feeling like you could use some prompts for introspection, I’d love you to check out my Bucket List Builder experience. The experience is 100% virtual (hello, quarantine!), delivered via two videos and a 1hr homework exercise, that will help you identify things you’d like to BE, SEE, DO, and HAVE. There is a really cool categorization and prioritization process in the second video where you can ask yourself the tough and uncomfortable questions…which sounds awful but is actually awesome 🙂 This experience is not only about goal setting, which can sound daunting or time-consuming – its mostly about figuring out what’s important to you, places you’d like to go, experiences you’d like to have and to which of your life’s priorities you’ve currently been putting your mind and time into. Investing in Bucket List Builder is truly a gift to yourself – the ultimate in self-care, one video at a time.
#5 – Spread Hope, not Corona
Hope is contagious, my friends. Even more contagious than any virus or pandemic out there, we can quickly and effectively spread hope to those that need it, those that are feeling stressed or panicked and definitely to those that are in quarantine or have contracted the virus. If you’re feeling like your thoughts and emotions are under control, that you have planned and prepped in case of an outbreak in your environment, spread that hope to the rest of the world! Call your friend who might be feeling less hopeful and help them to identify what actions they can take to feel more in control and more hopeful about their future. Maybe share good news stories you’re finding online or make a video call to a family member you know might be feeling more stressed or anxious than usual. Model that behaviour out loud…let everyone know that you’re hopeful for a virus-free future, that we are smart people who are working on a vaccine and are totally capable of helping to contain the spread of this virus by doing things within our control – washing our hands, limiting our physical contact with others and using Lysol like it’s going out of style!
We’ve got this.
We’ll get through this.
And on the other side of this, we’ll all feel proud of our efforts and the way we’ve pulled together to keep our hope high and our positive expectations for the future practical, actionable and bright.
If you have specific questions on how to keep your hope high, how to help someone else who isn’t feeling particularly helpful or how to look at this time as an opportunity, I’m here to help! Reach out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, via my Instagram or via Facebook. Goodness knows I’ll be online and connected, especially if I’m quarantined inside my house 🙂