Updated: Sep 29
It’s easy to get in the habit of binge-watching Netflix and filling empty moments with social media. Like food, we tend to think of these things as comfort, especially in today’s uncertain times. We take a step away from reality with television, and connect with family and friends on social media. Unfortunately, they add to the stress and fear we may be already experiencing; too much, and they become poison to the body and mind.
If we can take anything positive away from the coronavirus, it’s that we need to take better care of ourselves. Being sedentary is a detriment to our health. We need to learn to live as healthy as possible so we can fight against viruses and try to avoid pre-existing conditions.
To do this, we must care about our mind, body, and spirit. You don’t have to be religious for spiritual guidance. Some people believe in God and some believe in the universe. Your spirit is whatever makes you connect with yourself and the things around you on a deeper level. To focus inward, shine and let your brightness reach others.
I’d like to share nine positive things that you might want to try to cope with the madness of the world and find peace within yourself and the surrounding space.
Meditation helps to escape the noise, keep a deep and steady breath, and clear the mind. There’s no set time or exact way to meditate. You can do it alone or with others. Time yourself, listen to music, or do a guided meditation. These styles allow you to find the best fit.
Insight Timer is a great meditation app, which will always be available and help get you into practice. Sit on a cushion with your back straight, in a chair or on the couch, or lay down, and then choose a meditation. Concentrate on your breath, and don’t worry about the monkey brain. If thoughts take over, accept them and then return your mind to the breathing. It takes time to find what you enjoy with meditation and achieve it better, so don’t abandon it immediately. If one doesn’t work, try another style.
There are countless benefits to meditation. To name a few, it provides better concentration, improves self-esteem, reduces stress, helps with depression, controls pain, and makes you kinder.
Cooking stopped being a priority in many households. With all the fast food and already-made meals to choose from, few want to slave over a hot stove. However, cooking is such a wonderful thing to learn, connect, and share with family members because you’re spending time together, and you know what’s in the food. Food ordered out and already-prepared meals have too many preservatives in them, which are big contributors to weight gain and poor physical and mental health. My motto is, if I can’t pronounce the ingredients, I put it back on the shelf. There’s nothing wrong with cheeseburgers, pizzas, and burritos, but they’ve become a staple in our everyday life. When you make cooking important, it opens your eyes to all the unnecessary ingredients you’ll find in packaged meals.
Allrecipes.com helps bring cooking into your home, plus you can download it onto your phone. Start with simple recipes, and work your way toward something a little more complex. Most meals can be prepared and cooked within an hour or less. You can make a list of groceries for the main meal ingredients needed for the week. As you continue to cook, you’ll find ease in coming up with meal ideas and possibly discovering healthier choices.
The benefits of homemade cooking are endless: you save time and money, use healthier ingredients, bring the family together, smaller portions, etc.
How can you not be happy surrounded by nature? It’s a beautiful thing to do some planting while listening to birds and watching butterflies and bumblebees dance around. With weekly upkeep, gardening is also a low-cardio workout of trimming, weeding, and raking.
While taking care of your yard, you’re getting fresh air, vitamin D, and building strength. You don’t need a large yard to garden; even a balcony can bring such pleasures. It will boost your mood. Just go to your favorite garden center, and find the plants and colors you want. There are so many different types to choose from all year round. You can even get a head start before spring by growing plants from seeds.
4) DIY Projects
Everyone has a collection of things piling up in a corner that they don’t know what to do with, yet aren’t ready to throw out. Pick anything from your pile, and you can reinvent its purpose. DIY projects are affordable and a great way to build self-esteem. After you see the result, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.
If you have jars sitting around, wrap some twine around them, spray paint them, then remove the twine when dry, and put a votive candle at the bottom of it. Have an old dresser that’s seen better days? Buy some chalk paint or wallpaper, and turn it into something new. Ideas are endless, especially when browsing Pinterest.
5) Bike Riding
The longest and healthiest people in the world live in Blue Zones where diet, family and community, and reflection are key to their longevity. Their everyday living provides the exercise needed to build strength and endurance.
Since our busy western civilization provides the comforts of transportation and equipment to do our jobs, we don’t see nearly as much activity as we should. But you don’t need a gym membership to get active. Bike riding isn’t an intense activity, and it gets you outside. Not only does bike riding help you lose weight, but it also has many health benefits, such as improving respiratory health, reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease, increases mental sharpness, builds the immune system, and more.
In these uncertain times, what better way is there to keep active while at the same time practicing social distancing? Invest in your health.
6) Daily Walks
Daily walks are another way to get out, lose weight, take in vitamin D, support your joints, and improve circulation. The best thing about it is you don’t need to buy anything. Open roads will lead you to a positive mood.
Walking can be a solo event, one with friends and family, or with your dog. All it takes is 30 minutes each day to get your heart going, blood circulating, mind clearing, and a smile stretching from ear-to-ear. If you have a home office, set your timer, and when it goes off, go outside for a walk. Even if you work in an office building, take your lunch hour and put it to good use. Your cardiologist will thank you.
Journaling keeps you humble. When you acknowledge gratitude in your journal with a ‘because’, it shines a light on the wonderful things you have right now. It’s so easy for us to take the small things in life for granted, but not everyone has shelter, food, or clothing. What some consider fundamentals, others consider riches. The simple act of gratitude is enlightenment.
What’s great about journaling is you can put whatever you want in it like activities and meditation, foods, gratitude, and what you did that day. You might even want to put a daily positive affirmation or keep with one. It’s known that if you write and speak affirmations aloud, they’ll become your reality after a while.
8) Daily Acts of Kindness
If every person offered a simple daily act of kindness, we would see a softer world. A smile, holding the door open for someone . . . these simple things make someone else feel visible. When you do an act of kindness, it becomes infectious, and others start doing it too. Sometimes whom you bestow your act of kindness on may not necessarily be the one to return it, but it’s not about expecting something back. It’s about acknowledging others’ presence and showing respect with kindness.
It’s time we all start to open our eyes and see what’s around us instead of being shut up in our lives with our smartphones and earbuds. If you see someone struggling, go and help them out. You might get rebutted, but that’s okay because what you tried to do will remain with that person, even though they denied the offer. It will also grab the attention of others. Kindness is cheap, yet extravagant for the heart and mind.
As the saying goes, “laughter is the best medicine.” Find something to laugh at every day, but not at the expense of others. There are videos, memes, and quotes out there that are bound to get your belly muscles engaged. Talk to family and friends, and it won’t be long before the reminiscing gets you laughing.
“I used to spin the toilet paper roll like I was on the Wheel of Fortune. Now I turn it like I’m cracking a safe.”
You can’t be mad or sad when you’re laughing. For that brief moment, all you can count on is joy. Let the laughter flow in your home like water until there’s no room for sadness or anger.
We could all use a bit more “me time” to take care of ourselves. Once we’re able to find peace within, we can help others in a healthier, productive way. I’d like to leave you with my daily affirmation where I combined a few online quotes. “Life is a one-time offer, so chase whatever makes you feel the sun from the inside out.”
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Denise Haschka is a native of the South Side of Chicago, Illinois, and currently resides in Germany with her husband and fur-baby, Shakespeare. She can be stubborn and downright finicky; the last one doesn’t apply to food, though. Perseverance is a trait she often associates with her college degree, but she’s still waiting for her Pulitzer Prize nomination. Denise is a blogger, poet, and multi-genre author of two published books: a dark, psychological suspense thriller Net Switch; and women’s fiction/romantic comedy adventure Fogged Up Fairy Tale.