How are you doing? I mean, how are you really doing? Often we answer automatically with a superficial, “I’m fine, thanks.” Let’s start a long-overdue conversation. Life is hard, and we are not okay.
As for me, I’m medium. I’ve fared worse times, but the isolation, uncertainty and fear are getting to me.
We are all struggling – sickness, job loss, money problems, isolation, separation. Whatever COVID – 19 looks like for you, I’m guessing it’s not great.
I’m no stranger to adversity. One of the most challenging times of my life was the day my beautiful sister died suddenly from a brain aneurysm. Another was the day I was diagnosed with AL Amyloidosis and given a fairly bleak outlook. (I miss her every day, and it took two years of chemo and a clinical trial to get me into remission, but here I am).
I have known heartache as we all have. I am not telling you this to gain your sympathy or pity. Because I genuinely don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I am telling you this to make a connection.
We all know pain. We have all suffered. It’s not a who’s had a crappier year contest.
It’s about conversation – open, real discussions on connection and comfort and being part of something bigger. We need these things. We are hard-wired to crave human contact. That’s one of the big reasons we are all struggling right now.
What got me through those hard times? As cheesy as it sounds, mindset, love, comfort, connection, and support. Will I get through this too? YEP. And so will you.
Just keep repeating to yourself, “This is not my permanent destination. Life will not be like this forever.”
How Will I Get Through the COVID-19 pandemic?
Shift your mindset to “I will get through this.”
Make it a priority in your life to actively keep a positive mindset. Pretty sure I was born a pessimist. Luckily, optimism is a skill that we can all learn. It’s an unfortunate circumstance in life, but bad things happen to all of us. We can’t always control the events, but we can control our reactions. Do you want to be a victim or a hero?
- You always have a choice. Be intentional with your reactions—practice pausing to give yourself time to respond.
- Find the joy – actively seek it out. A cup of tea, the way the sun shines in your window, a delicious meal. If you’re having trouble finding it, create it.
- Practice stress relief, meditation, and gratitude. Schedule time every day to relax, reflect and count your blessings.
- Please stop bombarding yourself with all the negativity in the world (take a break from the news and social media).
All those things you’ve never had the time to complete? I’m guessing you might have time now.
- Learn a new skill (life-long learning is good for your health, can reduce stress levels, improve memory, and offset cognitive decline). 
- Get outside and discover your neighbourhood. Make a list of places you want to visit when the world opens up again (bonus…maybe you’ll find a local small business you can support).
- Try a new hobby, pick up an old one, test out a new recipe or food you have never tried.
- Finish up those tasks you have been avoiding (those closets aren’t going to organize themselves). The simple act of checking something off a to-do list causes our brains to release the feel-good hormone dopamine. 
- Uneasy around technology? Maybe now is the time to test it out.
Create a daily routine
For many of us, our regular routines have been thrown off track! Set yourself up with a new COVID routine, even if it is temporary. Our brains love order, and you’ll feel less stress if you are in control of your time.
- Include things you can check off a to-do list to gain a feeling of accomplishment (even if it’s have a shower and wear pants today).
- Schedule time to do something you enjoy. The simple act of looking forward to something releases those feel-good hormones, and helps to brighten your mood.
- Be sure to include connecting with people somehow (maybe a daily chat with a friend or family member, or joining an online meeting).
Do something to help others.
A win-win situation! Not only does it benefit whoever is on the receiving end of your kindness, but it makes you feel good about yourself and generally makes the world a better place. It doesn’t have to be a huge grand gesture – a little kindness goes a long way!
- Call someone to check in on them.
- Send flowers or a surprise to a loved one.
- Drop a little treat on a neighbour’s doorstep.
- Paint rocks/signs and leave them on walking trails.
- Donate your time to a charity.
- Think about what you are good at and do that – do you bake? Knit? Fish? Golf? How can you use your talents to do some good and make the world a better place?
Be kind and seek out a connection.
We all need to be kind to each other and ourselves right now. Part of the reason this isolation is so challenging is that we are hard-wired to seek human connection, especially in times of hardship and stress.
Jen Marr, CEO and founder of Inspiring Comfort, and Author of Paws to Comfort, explains “During difficult times, our bodies release the stress hormone cortisol, along with a little oxytocin (the relationship hormone). It’s like your body is saying: we are hurt, go find someone.”
- Reach out to a loved one – think of it as physical distancing rather than social distancing. Get creative with the way you connect with others.
- Join an online support group.
- Create a group with people who have similar interests, like a book club or knitting club where you all work on the same projects.
- If you are struggling, ask for help.
We are all built to do hard things. And you are stronger than you might feel right now. Take it one day at a time, one step at a time. Brighter days are ahead.
Lori Grover is a guest writer for Mackenzie’s Mission. She was diagnosed with AL Amyloidosis in 2016 and writes to share experiences and lessons learned during her journey. More wonderful blogs by Lori can be found on her page Amyloid Assassin. Lori is a freelance copywriter, and a mom of two wonderful boys. She loves writing, reading, and all things crafty.