My own journal entry was staring back at me. I was contemplating my answer amid what has been a tough couple weeks, coming to grips with this new reality we are going to be navigating for the foreseeable future. The short-term implications are painful and tragic, and the long-term consequences of shutting down our economy for months are, to some extent, largely unknown. I know that everyone reading this can agree — the start of our quarantine journey has been an emotional roller coaster.
And that’s exactly what it is: the start. We’re on shut down for at least another month. And while this long period of isolation is a necessary measure for public health, it has been acknowledged that it could also have a detrimental impact on people’s mental health. The World Health Organization released a mental health guide stating the obvious: “This time of crisis is generating stress in the population.”
Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others and make choices. This period of social distancing and sheltering at home is already having a negative impact on our lives and poses very real mental health challenges. However, with that awareness, we can put some practices into place to manage our mindset and state of being right now. Here are three things I am doing to help myself.
Committing to My Routines and Rituals
As I write this, I’m on my third week of sheltering at home. It’s lonely, isolating and my longest stretch in two decades without travel. It’s a huge adjustment, but I know that my experience pales in comparison to families who are finding themselves balancing work, home-schooling and, God forbid, a loved one who is sick.
In moments of crisis, it’s easy to let our most sacred routines and rituals slide. And that’s OK while he hit reset. But in the long term, this can be detrimental. Dialing in some of my most sacred routines and rituals has been a real saving grace so far. I can’t binge on Netflix and red wine until 3 a.m., work all day in sweats and skip showers expecting to come out of this a better version of myself.
But if you don’t mind, feel free to check back in on May 1 to see how I’m doing!
Asking for Help
I haven’t just been asking for help. In fact, I’ve been doubling down on it. That includes Zoom calls with my personal board of directors, collaboration with other creators and experts, and teletherapy. If you are struggling, don’t go it alone. If you are down the reinvention path, do it with the perspective of people who have traveled that road before you.
Remember, there will be another side of this. And in spite of the incredible adversity, I also believe many people will point to this moment of pause as an inflection point that forced them to confront themselves and commit to change. In the long run, that can be the catalyst for a whole new you. Who do you want to be on June 1?
Visioning the Future
I have accepted and surrendered to the understanding that the world isn’t going back to the way it was before — at least not any time soon.
Neither am I.
So, instead, I’m asking myself: Who do I want to become in this next normal? I believe answering this question requires a moment of pause and a little bit of stillness. But I’m beginning to lock in on my vision of that June 1 version of me.
I’m also looking a bit further into the future to truly consider what matters, what I want and how I can create it. It’s enormously empowering, because I have faith our future is going to be much better than our past. And holding on to that vision of the future in these hard moments helps to keep us going.
Of course, the manifestation of any vision requires action. It’s easier to decide, commit and take action when the destination is clear. Here are 12 of my tactics as I move toward my June 1 vision. Adjust accordingly to your own vision of the future:
My 12 ‘New You’ Tactics
- Stay hydrated: I’m trying to drink half my body weight in ounces of water every day.
- Eat right: I fast until lunch. Then I knock out a healthy protein shake and an epic feast for dinner every night. Currently, I’m down four pounds.
- Learn a new hobby: Mine is cooking. I’m getting better every single day, and I’ve found that I actually really enjoy it when I give myself the time.
- Take an online course: I’m taking “The Science of Well-Being.” It’s the most popular course in the history of Yale University, and it’s currently being offered for free. Join me!
- Read a good book: I’m almost finished with “Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman. Got any recommendations for my next read?
- Write a good book: My manuscript is actually finished. Stay tuned.
- Journal: I like The Five-Minute Journaland the “Morning Pages,” an exercise that is part of The Artist’s Way.
- Exercise: I exercise daily for one hour under the guidance of my trainer. It’s my sacred hour.
- Zoom for business: I have no idea why we weren’t doing this more often. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to the old ways.
- Zoom with family: Thursday night, we are having our first-ever virtual Estis family dinner over Zoom. I miss my family and cannot wait to see them online.
- FaceTime old friends: The calls, outreach and check-ins have meant the world to me during this time. But I know I could be doing more of that, too.
- Get into nature: I try to take a daily walk down by the Mississippi River across the Stone Arch Bridge. I usually listen to a podcast, and it just feels good to get outside. Thank God it’s April and not January!
- Take a cold shower: I know the health benefits, but this one is still a struggle for me. So I am going to commit since I’m sharing it here.
- Breathe deeply: A few deep breaths with my eyes closed and hands over my heart is a centering technique I can call on at any time if I start feeling overwhelmed amid the chaos.
- Meditate: I use Headspace, and I also love Joe Dispenza’s morning and evening meditations, which include visioning, as well. They’re a solid part of my routine.
- Limit the news: It’s important to stay informed, but don’t let yourself get lost in the matrix of media hysteria. Nobody needs to watch Anderson Cooper, Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon back-to-back-to-back like I did last night.
- Chill: Enjoy time with family and friends. Do less. Simplify. Embrace the solitude and stillness. Watch Netflix — but not too much. There is something beautiful about not having anything to do right now. It’s helping me get a bit better at learning how to just be.
This is going to be a hard stretch. Be patient. Aim for just a bit of progress over perfection.
Perhaps it’s useful to borrow a bit of ancient wisdom for hard times. Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded by Zeno of Citium in Athens during the early 3rd century B.C. The Stoics welcomed hard times. They saw their lives as training for moments such as the one we are in now, where character, resilience and courage are tested. Stoic philosopher Epictetus said something that perfectly encapsulates the moment we are going through: “The greater the difficulty, the more glory in surmounting it.”
We will pass this test. There will be another side to this. I cannot wait to see you there.