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5 Ways to Make It Through the Next 24 Hours During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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In recovery circles, people live by the saying “one day at a time.” Maybe thinking of getting through the rest of their lives without ever using their vice again seems impossible. They’re in too deep. They have to take baby steps.

This is where many of us now find ourselves (with or without the recovery aspect). The anxiety we’re all living with due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the uncertainty over what will happen next, is just too much. These problems seem insurmountable, but instead of attempting to tackle all of them at once, let’s focus on the next right thing.

When we break up a day, for example, into smaller chunks of time, we’re not only fully present to the task at hand, but we’re too focused to think about the future. And focusing too much on the future is often where anxiety sets in. Not being in control of our schedules and plans can trigger panic and sadness. Here are a few ways we can shift our focus to the next 24 hours only.

1. Just make it to bedtime (yours or your kids’).

You can even make this your mantra to get you through each day. Sure, it sounds like we’re dreading the day and just trying to get it over with, but some days can be, quite frankly, dreadful. We also know that not every day will be this hard, but there are others where we’re just going through the motions. And that’s OK. Remember, there are plenty of people on this planet who live in true survival mode from sunup till sundown: finding food, preparing food, cleaning up, going to bed, lather, rinse, repeat… You and your children will not fall irrevocably behind just because you need to do the bare minimum in this season.

2. Be present with whatever you have to get done today.

What is it that you really need to get done today? (Remember to prioritize.) Set your mind on that one task or project and don’t let your mind wander until it’s done. You might actually work more efficiently in the process! Don’t think about the entire to-do list, either. This is where you might have to go from thinking of one day at a time to thinking about one item at a time or one hour at a time.

3. Make time for play.

If you have kids, now’s the time to play with them in a way maybe you never have before. It will be beneficial for both of you! This doesn’t mean you have to give them your undivided attention all day long, but can you give them one solid hour where you don’t multitask? (This means no phones, either.)

All kids really want is attention and they will seek out negative attention if you starve them of any at all. Both ways will take up your time, but there’s the easy way and the hard way, so you be the judge. If the thought of doing a messy art project or coming up with open-ended, imaginative games is too exhausting, just break out a board game. That way, you’ll have a beginning, middle and an end to the activity.

You can (and probably should) also take the kids outside. Jump rope. Use sidewalk chalk. Blow bubbles. Play doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated! But these are the moments to lock in little details you’ve been missing or have maybe taken for granted.

Play is also important for adults (both parents and non-parents) because tapping into your inner child will provide stress relief. Break out the coloring books or watch your favorite childhood movie.

4. Cut yourself some slack.

This goes back to my first point. It’s OK to accomplish less right now. It’s OK to be imperfect. (Actually, it’s always OK to live up to whatever perfect standards you may have set for yourself.) Get done what absolutely has to be done, but “good enough is good enough right now.”

I saw someone online asking themselves the question, “What expectations of ‘normal’ am I letting go of today?” Maybe it’s not the right time to start a new diet or write that novel. Or maybe it is the right time, and you do feel inspired and you do want to put your focus on this new idea.

Only you can determine this for yourself, not social media or anyone else at all! Explore as much or as little as you truly have the energy to explore right now instead of comparing to what others are doing. Do whatever is driving you right now, and that very well might be to lie on the couch and do nothing today. This leads to my next point, which is…

5. Get in touch with and trust your instincts.

Before COVID-19 halted life as you knew it, in what ways were you on auto-pilot? Were you functioning from a place of intuition or were you doing things out of habit, out of routine or even out of tradition? Did you push through things even when they didn’t feel right?

Now is the perfect time to get back in touch with your inner self. Don’t think of this as one more thing to add to your to-do list; just tune in while getting into or out of bed today. Close your eyes, take a breath and try to silence the world for a moment. If your mind races, just hear the noise and let each thought pass by. After doing this a few times, it’ll become easier and easier to make choices based on what you really want and not out of habit. Maybe what you want will change from hour to hour.

Your inner dialogue might go from “I want to be productive” to “why bother,” all in a few hours’ time, and that’s OK! Of course, if you have more time or energy, a daily walk, yoga session, meditation/prayer session or reading a great book by a spiritual teacher will help you get in touch with your inner self even more.

For more on the coronavirus, check out the following stories from our community:

How are you making it through each day right now? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Unsplash

Originally published: May 2, 2020
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