The recent uptick in issues stemming around the Delta variant has once again brought on a wave of emotional concerns. Everyone is struggling in some way to be able to mentally talk themselves through the challenges we are facing in our daily routine. Since COVID began last year, I found there are certain ways in which I kept myself mentally, physically and spiritually strong. With gyms closed for a length of time, pools and other facilities we normally frequented being on shutdown, we all searched for ways to keep our routine consistent. Consistency is the key.
- Mental. The exhaustion can be debilitating. We must focus on not resorting to the ‘fixes’ of life that are not positive and encouraging. Alcohol, recreational drugs, or stress eating – all ways in which I have heard we are dealing with the stress of COVID. Make sure you are keeping all your normal lines of communication open. I was away from my hometown for over a year and a half. Not seeing my family during that time, especially being across the country, was very difficult. I understand how you feel if that impacted you as well. With FaceTime, Zoom, phone or even a pen pal, we must keep communicating and sharing in the process with each other. You are certainly not alone, and certainly are not the only one struggling. Maintain those close relationships and be sure to speak up if there is anything more you need. We all depend on each other, as no one is at this alone. As part of our nightly routine, the children and I recite what we are grateful for each day. It is powerful. I get down at times, but I am quick to refocus my thoughts when I begin down the path of feeling sorry for myself – for any reason. When I run, I encounter many homeless people sleeping on the street corner. I am thankful I have a roof over my head. When I work with the Angel View charity, I work with children and adults with physical disabilities. I am grateful for having my health, but also two healthy children. There are signs everywhere as to how can find daily pieces of our lives to be grateful for each day.
- Physical. Maybe we gained the ‘COVID-19’ – 19 pounds. It’s OK, that’s normal to stress. Don’t beat yourself up. But let’s place the bar where we are now, and where we want to be. Walk, jog, run, hike, cycle, kayak, canoe, etc. Whatever it takes to be active, at any level, is essential in our daily routine. Combining that with maybe a yoga routine for stretching and strengthening. You can find a yoga routine on YouTube for nothing, and of course all the outside activities above do not cost anything. Luckily, the gyms have re-opened so we can utilize them. If you are still hesitant, body weight exercise routines are easy ways to remain active. Again, they cost nothing, and you can utilize everyday household items for exercise. Cans of soup, gallons of milk, sack of flour, 5-gallon buckets of rocks – see where I am going here? Don’t worry, your neighbor won’t judge you. Just don’t be the person who creates excuses for not working out – you have all the means in the world to do so right at home. I thoroughly encourage outside activities as much as possible, as reconnecting with nature is certainly an essential part of my routine. Rain, heat, snow, humidity – there’s no excuse. Get outside (inside) and get moving. There are so many incredible sources of free information to assist in this matter. The endorphin release from daily physical activity has been the greatest ‘fix’ I could ever ask for.
- Spiritual. For those who regularly attend a formal religious service, many are back in action. For those who have been holding off, again, YouTube will have plenty of options to participate in a service. I enjoyed watching the Diocese of Pittsburgh weekly masses on YouTube while living in southern California. It kept my sense of spiritual being going – which is a very important part of my life – during times of uncertainly. If you are not part of a formal religious organization, have you considered it? I would certainly encourage you to step outside of your comfort zone and attend a service. You never know what spiritual awakening you might encounter to find more fulfillment in your life. If neither is of interest, then connect your spiritual being with nature. There is energy to be absorbed from the sun, moon, stars, trees, plant life and the animals that roam. No, I’m not a ‘hippie’, I just know my love for nature is very powerful, and the fulfillment I receive while trail running, camping, or just being outside is everything you need for the soul.
- Passions. What drives you? My passions are well documented, but have you been fulfilling yours? I love having my children involved in all aspects of my life. We go to church together, and they see how I am involved with the mass. We go hiking together, and the learn how to explore. I coach their swim team, and the learn the art of leadership. When they are not with me, I am continuing to challenge myself through more difficult trail running challenges, building and developing my speaking business and focusing on ways I can be involved in the community through the different charities I work alongside. I have not allowed any of these passions to be disrupted in my life. There is always something you can do to impact the lives of others, your family and improving the quality of your life.
COVID has done a lot to throw our routines completely off track, however we are the ones who choose whether to allow it to ruin our daily routine. There is a lot we cannot do; however, this is the perfect time to take that ‘level set’ of your life. Take the time to be alone. Take time to be with family. Take time to learn a new hobby. Take time to assist the less fortunate. Take time to rid your body of the chemical fix. Using COVID as a reason for anything not being accomplished is only an excuse. You can always find a way around any barrier; it just takes a little outside the box thinking to achieve it.