I think we can all agree 2020 hasn’t been the year most of us hoped for when clinking our glasses to the new year. In hindsight, I feel so naïve, entitled even, being so confident in the future. Then again, who could’ve predicted we’d see the biggest pandemic since the 1918 influenza pandemic, an impeachment trial, Kobe Bryant’s death, a full blown social justice movement and Kanye trying to run for president, and we are only a bit over halfway through the year. I’m scared to say, “what else could go wrong?”, because if 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that Murphy’s Law would surely apply.
It’s hard not to feel bleak about the future when everything seems so dark and it seems like there’s no end in sight, but here are 5 ways that you can create your own peace within the chaos.
#1 Monitor your social media usage
A month into the lockdown I made the correlation that the sum of time I spent on all social media platforms directly affected how frazzled, overwhelmed and upset I was feeling. Apparently it’s a thing . There’s many ways to go about it, but I decided to take a month off of everything and see how I felt. I’ve heard people say it’s good to do a digital detox every now and again, but WHOA, game changer. I’m not saying do it forever or go completely off the grid. Try taking a digital break for a weekend, a week, a month or just deleting 1 platform at a time. I’m sure regardless of your choice, you’ll feel a tangible decline in sensory overload. Since I wasn’t juggling apps anymore, I filled my time with things that I actually value like reading, and I could finally focus! I also took a free class online, made time for working out and alas, I started to feel like myself again. I did read the news, but limited it to 1 hour max. Anything over that I found to be counterproductive. Following my break, I slowly reintroduced apps, being more mindful of how usage affected me. Going forward, I’ll welcome a break anytime I start to feel overwhelmed again. It’s definitely a good starting point for creating space within the noise.
#2 Plan your day the night before
In the beginning of quarantine, sleeping in was amazing. Since I’m used to sleeping in my bed maybe 3 times a week if I’m lucky, I relished in the comforts of my own familiar nest. I’d slowly wake up at 10, have a lazy brunch and read the news for bit. Before you knew it, I fell into a pattern where the day was pretty much gone and all I had to show for it was a lot of social media usage and some netflix. Not only did this get old fast, but it was starting to effect my mental health. I did what I always do to hold myself accountable. I opened my dusty daily planner for 2020 and started organizing my days ahead every evening. 1 day at a time. I don’t know about you, but I find it much easier to follow a list than play it by ear. Checking things off a list gives me a sense of accomplishment, simple but effective. It also assigns meaning and intentionality to each day. Again, we’re not all wired the same, but scheduling things in to my day, allowed me to create time for a nourishing morning routine. That being said, life doesn’t go as scheduled and there are many days I don’t get even half way down my list, and when that happens, I just roll them over to the next day. Try it out!
You’ve heard this a million times, movement is good for you, said in so many ways. I’m not even going to attach an article about how physical activity is so good for you, because at this point, its facts. The thing is, knowing doesn’t equate to implementation. Why? A million reasons, we’re busy, over stimulated, distracted, we don’t make time for it, we haven’t found the workout that we love, etc. The excuses are endless and we’ve all got them. Why is this generic bullet point even on the list then? Because especially right now, everyone needs some kind of movement incorporated into their routine. Besides the obvious reasons, physical activity of any sort will get you out away from all the distractions and out of the house. The options are endless, depending on where you live. Personally I love running but my joints hate me, so I switch it up between running/biking and throw some yoga in there for that zen rx effect. However, anything that makes you sweat counts. Cleaning is included, but I’d barter, most probably won’t find cleaning the most endorphin releasing activity, so hard pass. Try gardening if that’s your speed, plants and endorphins are a match made in heaven. The point is, do something that requires you to disconnect for a bit, get some vitamin D in the process and sweat. I find that even on the days I struggle most, if I make it out the door, I’ll get the workout done. I never did regret a workout and I’m betting you won’t either. Your mental health will thank you later!
If this year has highlighted anything, it’s the importance of having a strong social network. Connections matter. Social distancing is a new concept for everyone but social isolation is not. Social distancing and quarantining has exacerbated the problem tremendously. Coronavirus loneliness is 70% more common among millennials than baby boomers and many others are feeling increased anxiety due to all the shutdowns. According to the Mayo Clinic, socializing is good for your overall health, by increasing your happiness and sense of well-being. It may even help you live longer. I tend to be an introvert and do enjoy my time alone, but even I crave social interaction after a week of isolation or I tend to start feeling down. Depending on where you live, businesses/establishments are cautiously opening while others are closing. It’s a weird time no doubt, which makes connecting even more important. Some ways to do it responsibly are House party and Zoom, or even go out, cautiously of course. If you’re in the US, the pandemic is in full swing, so just wear the mask!
#5 Random acts of kindness
I learned about this one taking UC Berkleys The Science of Happiness. I highly recommend this class, if you have time and want to take a free course. I learned lots of useful information on curating a more meaningful life. Every week I was given a new assignment. One research based principle, was performing random acts of kindness. It goes back to the notion that in giving we receive, except now there is data to back the idea up. The assignment involved performing 5 random acts of kindness once a week. The reason being, the endorphins released after 1 act of kindness aren’t notable but add 5 hits in one day, and the difference is tangible which makes you more likely to enjoy it and do it again. The trick is to make all the acts different from one another and change them weekly. This way, it doesn’t turn into a chore, but something you look forward to and can get creative with. Some of mine included: baking cookies and delivering them to my abuelita, sending care packages, sending cards etc. This was my favorite assignment, because theres something about making others happy or smile that doubles your own happiness. Besides, given the current national climate, it seems we could use more random acts of kindness. This is something that no matter your current circumstance, you can do. We all have the power to impact positive change, and just that thought alone makes me smile. I hope it does the same for you.
All the above tips play off of one another. I hope that if you find yourself in a dark place or even a frazzled place like I sometimes do, you give these a try!