Ten ways to be Calm and Cheerful during COVID Chaos
There are times in life, and particularly during Covid lockdowns, when you feel unsettled, anxious, frustrated, irritated and restless.
I (Annie Warmbrunn founder of Yogabout) find the following 10 actions help me cope during times of difficulty and hope they also help you, particularly if you are struggling during the Covid pandemic:
1. Go for a walk.
Research shows that walking will improve your physical and mental health, tone and strengthen muscles and the cardiovascular system, lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and other chronic disease, improve mood and concentration, and alleviate depression and fatigue. Why wouldn’t you go for a walk!! Indeed exercise is recognised as being so important to your mental health that it is one of the 5 things you are allowed to leave the house for during a Covid lockdown. Many famous philosophers realised the benefits of walking and walked regularly including Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin and Aristotle.
2. Make yourself a priority.
You are responsible for your own happiness, unfortunately being calm and cheerful doesn’t just happen however much we would like it to. Know that happiness comes from within, not from external things like a new pair of shoes or kitchen appliance.
Make a commitment to yourself that every day you will take time out for yourself whether it be 10 mins or an hour. Make it part of your daily routine. During that time you might simply stop and reflect whilst having a quiet cup of tea, or you could listen to your favourite music and when distracting thoughts arise take your awareness back to the music, or practice some yoga, or observe the breath and meditate.
Your mind will undoubtedly come up with all sorts of excuses why you can’t give yourself 10 minutes today, tomorrow and the next day. Take up the Nike slogan and Just Do It!
3. Think of three different things every day you are grateful for.
You can simply think of the three things you are grateful each day or you can write them down so when things are getting a bit tough you can look back through them. If at this moment you’re really struggling and can’t think of anything try these to get you started “I’m so grateful I can read,” “I’m so grateful I have enough food to eat,” “I’m so grateful I live in Australia”. Then take a moment to contemplate these things.
4. Listen to your favourite music.
Our love of music is an intrinsic part of being human and listening to our favourite music is very calming and soothing. In all cultures around the world music is played during ceremonies and celebrations. Australia’s aboriginals used the didgeridoo as a sound healing instrument amongst other things, and the ancient Greeks used music to heal mental disorders. We play music when we get together with family and friends. There is music that can leave you feeling sad due to the unhappy memories associated with it so if you are feeling a bit down play music that you know makes you feel good, music that lifts your spirits.
5. Remember Life is a Precious Gift
You cannot control the things that happen to you, but you can control how you respond and react to the events occurring in your life. Living in the present moment instead of lost in thoughts of the past or the future, and remembering that you don’t know when or how you are going to die, will help you appreciate that life is a precious gift to be lived in a cheerful and calm manner.
6. Reach out
Humans need each other to survive. We talk, share, laugh and cry together, we learn how to cook, keep warm and communicate from another, and we procreate and inter those who have past together. Consequently isolation can generate feelings of loneliness and depression. Thus for your mental health, at least once every day, talk to someone, particularly if you live on your own. Pick up the phone and talk to your friends and family, or if not in lockdown visit another person.
7. Arrange something to look forward to
Remember your school days when you looked forward to the end of term and school holidays? Well we need to do the same as an adult, we need to have something to look forward to, something that gives us a break from the daily routine. It can be anything from a holiday, a weekend away, a football match, a day trip to the beach, a theatre show, dinner with friends, a Yogabout weekend retreat, the possibilities are endless. Write it on your calendar and be cheerful when you think about it.
8. Eat Well and Drink Plenty of Water
It’s easy to forget how much of an influence what we eat has on how we feel. When we eat or drink too much of any one thing, whether it be too much fat, carbohydrate, sugar, meat, coffee or alcohol to name a few culprits, different parts of our digestive system have to work extra hard to process it which can leave us feeling tired and lethargic.
We are so lucky in Australia there is an abundance of fresh food available, and being a multi-cultural country we are exposed to a variety of cuisine from a range of countries. Experiment with your cooking and ensure you have at least two vegetables or fruit from each colour group every day eg red (capsicum/tomato/apple), orange (pumpkin/orange/sweet potato), green (lettuce/broccoli/silverbeet), purple (egg plant/red grape/blackberries/purple cabbage), white (potato/cauliflower/rice), yellow (squash/banana/lemon).
9. Rest and Sleep
We sometimes forget that we are an animal living on planet earth and just like any other animal we have a circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm exists in all organisms, for example it helps flowers open and close at the right time, and in humans it helps us amongst other things to stay awake during the day and to sleep at night. If we don’t get enough rest and sleep, we feel it both mentally and physically, we can’t think straight, accidents happen, we become grumpy and tired.
To improve your sleep: Allow the body to follow its natural circadian rhythm by going to bed and getting up around the same time every day. Ensure your room is dark, not too hot, and there are no cold breezes. Turn off all electronic devices including the television and phone at least 30 minutes before going to bed so the active mind can begin to slow down and the eyes can start to rest. Once in bed relax your muscles one by one starting at the feet and working your way up the body, include your facial muscles and then count ten breaths. You might like to listen to a recorded sleep story.
If you can’t get to sleep don’t panic or get frustrated, simply get up, have a drink of warm milk or a herbal sleep tea and write down whatever you are thinking about without judgement or criticism, and then when you feel ready go back to bed. If you have a bad sleep, don’t be tempted to stay in bed, get up at your normal time as that will help you for the upcoming night’s sleep.
10. Help someone else
When we are depressed or anxious, all of our thoughts tend to become about ourselves, e.g. I am unhappy, I don’t feel well, I don’t want to get out of bed, etc. A simple practice is to help someone else. It can be as simple as sharing a smile. For example have you ever been feeling down and someone simply smiles at you whilst you’re waiting in the line at the supermarket or walking along the footpath, and you immediately feel a little bit better. Give it a go today, see how far a simple smile can take you.
Other options are to organise to volunteer somewhere (after lockdown) in your community (eg a sporting club, the Girl Guides or Scouts, Meals on Wheels, your local op shop, an aged care centre, the hospital, the local school etc); offer to make someone a cup of tea or coffee at home or work; give a friend or family member who you know has been going through a hard time a phone call to see how they are going.
Yogabout provides weekends away near Daylesford, only 90 minutes from Melbourne and Geelong that offer yoga, sound therapy, forest bathing and guided bushwalks. They provide you with the opportunity to take a break, to get away and spend some time in nature. The yoga is gentle and suited to all body and ability types including the over 50’s.
There are Yogabout retreats, scheduled to stay at an authentic yoga ashram in the heart of the Wombat State Forest on 24 – 26 September, 30 October – 1 November and 11 – 12 December 2021. The weekends are inclusive of all meals and accommodation and start from $450. For more info go to https://www.yogabout.com.au/