A Perfect Guide For Imperfect Times

5 Ways To Deal With Social Distancing Mandates
Elena Schweitzer/Shutterstock.com
Summary: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! This article features 5 things that people can do every day to thrive (to make lemonade) in our uncertain times.

5 Ways To Get Through Unprecedented Times

As a society, we have never had to live through times like the current, with sickness, shelter in place orders, social distancing mandates, untimely layoffs, furloughs, pay cuts, stock market losses, parents as teachers, and the list goes on and on. We are all searching for ways to not only survive but also prosper and honestly not feel like we are going crazy. You have heard this expression: “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade," I thought I would offer my lemonade recipe aka my personal guide to getting through these unprecedented times. We can do this together and be social—from a distance.

We will go through each of these items in more detail, but I’m hoping this guide will help you think about the good in every situation, the little marvels around us every day, and that you’ll take the time to sit back, make lemonade and enjoy all things in life…while at home.

1. Acts Of Kindness

Make acts of kindness a normal, daily habit. Doing something kind for others makes you feel good and makes the receivers feel good. Find the time and search out opportunities to perform an act of kindness every day. It doesn’t have to be a big act of kindness, like saving a person from being hit by a car. It doesn’t have to cost you money, like paying for the drive-through order for the person behind you. Small acts are just as meaningful and special. Without much thought about it, my three acts of kindness today were: (1) I delivered my 94-year-old neighbor’s newspaper from the bottom of her driveway and placed it on her doorstep. (2) I picked up trash on the side of the road while walking my dog. (3) I gave praise to a coworker for a job well done and told her how much I appreciated her work and enjoyed having her on the team.

2. Practice Gratitude

At the end of the day, think about and write down three things that you are grateful for. Most people think of the big things they are grateful for, such as their loved ones and their health. In our trying times, it is good to actively think about these things. I know there is no one else I would rather shelter in place with than my husband and kids, and I am thankful for them every day. In addition to the big things we are grateful for, notice the small things too. Here are mine for today: Our neighbors got a Golden Retriever puppy and when I see the little puppy romp in the grass, it puts a smile on my face. Also, last night, my husband and I stood on our porch and paid attention to the quiet and stillness. The lack of noise from the distant highway and no airplanes flying over made for a quiet peacefulness that we don’t normally have in Minneapolis. Lastly, the spring flowers are blooming, bringing color and life to our surroundings. Today, I am grateful for puppies, quiet time to reflect and be still, and the blooming spring flowers.

3. Exercise

Take the time to exercise every day. Things have changed and your routine must change too. Shelter in place doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch for hours on end and binge watch TV. You don’t have to get 10,000 steps in a day—but if you can, try. Do what you can, where you can. Exercise releases endorphins and endorphins help you feel good. For my elderly mom, her walk from her senior living apartment to the lobby to collect her mail is the right level of exercise for her. I encourage her to make sure she does this every day, including Sundays when there is no mail to retrieve. She agrees that she feels better when she makes the effort. Walk around your neighborhood on pretty days, do a few sit-ups before bed, play tag with your kids. Make time every day for the right exercise for you.

4. Call Someone Close To You

Years ago, AT&T had a TV commercial with the tag line “reach out and touch someone.” By the end of that commercial, I always had tears in my eyes because it accurately portrayed the great emotional boost hearing from someone can have on your wellbeing. Every day use your cell phone to call someone—a distant relative, an uncle, your grandma, a niece or nephew, or a friend that you haven’t spoken to in a while, like your former college roommate or a previous work teammate. Not seeing people daily can be lonely, some people may be in self-isolation. Pick up the phone; you will feel better and so will the person that you called.

5. Mediate

Just breathe. In times like these, I think it’s safe to say that we’re all feeling a little stressed out. Getting acclimated to working from home, being a home-school teacher for your children, cooking every single meal and many other “new” things, can be intimidating and unnerving. Meditating can be a brief escape, a moment in time to press pause on what is happening around the world and clear your mind. At the end of each day or maybe even the beginning, too, close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths in and out. Focus on your breathing. After a few deep breaths, you will feel calmer, have less anxiety, and lower your level of stress, resulting in you staying more focused and present for yourself and others in your life. There are also proven apps and guides that can help you with a deeper meditation if you want.

As I sit back and think about all of the craziness around me, I find that adjustment and acceptance have helped me through it so far. And of course, the 5 items in this guide are ways that I relax and embrace my new normal. Hopefully, it won’t last long; but I try to look at it this way: When will there ever be another time in my life where I can enjoy the things and people I have at home? To really watch the children and flowers grow? Yes, sometimes the days seem long, but the years are short, right? At the end of the day, capture what you are grateful for and your acts of kindness. As you continue to write these items down, review what you wrote yesterday or last week or last month. You will see that you have a great life and you’ve helped people. Your outlook on life will be more positive. You will have a pitcher of lemonade and hopefully, you won’t mind the next time that life throws you those lemons.