Author: Dr. Aimee Kimball
No one will get through life unscathed. We will all face turmoil, stress, hardships, and challenges. This whole corona madness is one of those times, but rather than being alone, we face the challenge together. Here are some tips to navigate the uncertainty that lies ahead and how to use this time to productively better ourselves and the people around us. Each tip also includes a challenge, which I encourage you all to do.
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” -Ferris Bueller
Here’s the thing, life moves fast during the school year. Your time is consumed by games, training, school, and trying to have a social life. You have routines, you find a rhythm, but there’s always something going on. Use this time to pause. Start every morning with some meditation (the Headspace and Calm apps are great), breathing exercises (Heartmath can help train you), and yoga. Learn to chill.
Challenge 1: Sit for 1 minute in total silence. Quiet your mind. If you have a thought, let it pass, but start your 1 minute timer over.
Challenge 2: Go for a walk but only focus on the present and things outside of you. Notice the sounds of the birds, the feeling of your socks touching your feet, the taste of your bubble gum. Don’t think, just notice and be aware.
Challenge 3: Breathe, slowly and deeply for 3 minutes. See if you can decrease the amount of breaths you need to take in those 3 minutes by inhaling and exhaling slower each time.
I know this seems like the opposite of slowing down, but being productive doesn’t mean speeding up, it just means getting things done. Each day, do something to make yourself, your future, or others better.
Challenge: Pick 1 thing to do each day that fulfills these categories: 1) sport (ex: work out, eat well, watch video) 2) school (ex: do your assignments!) 3) home (ex: get rid of old clothes, clean your room) 4) friends/family/community (ex: call someone you haven’t spoken to for a while, ask a friend how you can help them, donate to a charity) 5) self (ex: read an interesting article, get a haircut, look for a summer job) Show
In challenging times, it’s easier to think about ourselves, but it’s actually proven that showing gratitude helps relieve stress.
Challenge 1: Once a week for the next 4 weeks, write a letter (or email if you must) to someone who you haven’t thanked for helping you.
Challenge 2: Buy a gratitude journal or search online for gratitude prompts and at the end of each day write down something you are grateful for.
“Social distancing” doesn’t mean solitary confinement. Reach out to teammates and see what they are up to. Facetime your grandmother. Dare I say it, have an Xbox tournament. Don’t be a hermit, talk (not text) to others.
Challenge 1: Print out your most recent team roster, coaches included. Choose at least one teammate or coach a day to call. By April 15, you should have crossed a lot of people off the list. Bonus points for calling staff too-they miss you!
Challenge 2: Start a chain letter story. Write 3 sentences and mail it to someone for them to write 3 sentences. Create a hashtag and see where it end ups!
Laugh and Have Fun
Laughter will always be the best medicine. Enjoy yourself. Be silly. Have a dance party. Tik tok your heart out!
Challenge 1: Binge watch a funny show (“Schitt’s Creek” anyone?) or some classic movies (“Spaceballs”, “Three Amigos”)
Challenge 2: Before lunch each day, start laughing, for absolutely no reason. Just laugh for one minute straight. Each day, try to make your laugh sound different. Bonus points if you get someone else to laugh at you.
Three Minutes of Venting
You might have any number of negative emotions right now and that’s ok. You don’t have to pretend they don’t exist. Allow yourself a set amount of time to feel bad, vent, whatever, but after that time recognize a lot of what is happening is out of your control and brooding doesn’t do a lot of good.
Challenge: If something is stressing you out but you don’t control it, write it down and put it in a box and mentally and physically put it to the side.
Summary: Control What You Can
Remain as positively focused as you can right now and focus on the things you control. What you do control is yourself, your actions, and your attitude.