Staying on the path of well-being

JULIE CHASE | MARCH 25, 2020

This is truly an extraordinary time — and one I never thought would happen. Yet here we are. While I’m often the voice of positivity, it’s been a challenge to not be affected by the wave of fear and panic. Of course some fear is good — we’re wired to fear in order to survive. But there is a pretty thick line between fear that helps and fear that hurts. The way I think about it, is if I start to worry about things I can’t control — I know it’s affecting well-being and it’s time to pivot.

So I’d like to share what I do to stay on a path of well-being. It’s not meant to be a checklist, but rather tools that you can use when needed.

Well-being tools and practices 

Practice gratitude

Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions and has many benefits, including lowering stress and increasing happiness. I start each moment writing down a handful of things I’m grateful for — big and small. Like I’m grateful for all the service workers, healthcare professionals and first responders, technology that helps me work from home and stay connected to others as well as spring blossoms and the soft socks I’m wearing.

If you’re not a writer, you can think of things you’re grateful for every time you wash your hands (which is a lot these days).

Take 3 deep breaths

Breathing not only gives you time and space to mindfully respond (versus react), but also activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps lower cortisol — our stress hormone. Think of all the way better responses we could make if we just took 10 seconds to breathe.

Make sleep a priority

This is by far the most important practice. After a good night’s sleep, I feel unstoppable. And when I don’t sleep well, I make unhealthy decisions and do not employ most of these tools. You might be more tempted to stay up late now that you’re working from home, but I urge you to get even more sleep so you can show up as your best self every day.

Limit time on the news (and social media)

It’s great to stay up-to-date on what’s going on in the world, but obsessing about the negative aspects feeds into worry and fear. Allocate 2 or 3 times a day that you can check up on things, but try to limit it to 20 or 30 minutes. And give yourself a buffer between the first and last hour of the day so it doesn’t define the quality of your day or sleep.

Focus on good thoughts

We are amazing human beings who can control our thoughts. When we start to think of negative things, we should acknowledge them and then choose to think of something else. Brainstorm a list of your favorite memories, trips, events, etc. Keep the list somewhere visible like on your fridge or on your desk. Better yet, make a collage of the people and places you love the most — that will surely make you smile : )

Try meditation and journaling

Meditation and journaling are powerful tools. They both help manage stress, reduce
negative emotions and increase self awareness, mindfulness, focus, patience and creativity. Who doesn’t want that?

Go to YouTube and search for guided meditations and pick a topic such as anxiety or sleep or try an app like Headspace. Start with short ones like 5 – 10 minutes.

For journaling, write for 10 – 15 min a few times a week. Start with prompts like: “What’s top of mind for me is…” or “One thing I’d like to do this year is…” and freewrite. Read through, reflect on what you wrote and share your insights with a trusted friend.

Move your body

Start or maintain your exercise routine. There are many free workout videos (grateful for YouTube)! Go outside for a walk (as long as you stay 6’ apart from others) — and enjoy the Vitamin D benefits from the sun!

Do things that bring you joy

Dust off your guitar, dig out your arts supplies, get out your cookbooks — or whatever you love to do, but never have enough time. Use the time you’d commute and timeblock it on your calendar. You can also do those “have to do” projects, so you can feel fantastic once they’re done (like finishing taxes, which I did last weekend)!

Be creative with socializing

This one has been tough for me. I love spending time with friends, so the withdrawal has been a shock to my system. But I’m turning my frown upside down and upping my FaceTime game. I’ve also organized my first virtual happy hour and bookclub this week, which I’m super excited about!

Do something kind

Sometimes the best thing you can do is also the easiest. Pay a compliment to your partner, cook your family’s favorite meal, send a “just because” gift to a loved one, write a card to an old friend, donate to one of your favorite organizations or find a way to volunteer virtually.

And lastly, practice kindness and self-compassion. Take time for yourself to rest, reflect and reset. This is the best self-care practice you can do.

I hope you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy. I’m sending positive vibes your way!

PS: I highly recommend subscribing to Thrive Global, which is a great resource for maintaining your well-being. Here are a couple of articles on prioritizing sleep and thriving in uncertainty that you can check out.