Choose to look forward

We are going through a rough time right now. Millions are out of work. Businesses are closed, and some will not be able to re-open. Thousands have died, and families have not even been able to attend the funeral or to grieve with the support of loved ones. Churches have been unable to gather and have relied on putting their worship services on social media or having drive-in services. Most of us have followed the stay-at-home policies that were recommended to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and we’re getting tired of it. Medical personnel and hospitals in some parts of the country have been overworked almost to the breaking point. The stock market goes up and down like a roller coaster. Nobody knows how this is going to affect the nation’s economy, but it’s not likely to be good. Likewise, nobody knows when things will return to normal, and what normal will even look like. It’s easy to be filled with despair when all we hear from the media is one disaster story after another, and we can’t see an end in sight. However, despair will not get us through this crisis.

Like much of life, we will choose how we will get through this. We can work very hard to take positive steps to come through this with minimal damage to ourselves, our loved ones, our finances and our health, or we can choose to give up. There is absolutely nothing we can do about the situation, but we can choose how we will respond to it. Let me make some suggestions for how to come through this in a positive way.

First, remember how you have come back from previous hardships. Chances are this is not the first time you’ve been in a tough spot, and you’ve always been able to bounce back. You’ll come back from this one as well. Your life may look different after this is over, but you’ll be fine just like before.

Make sure you practice good self-care. I’ve noticed a lot more people walking in our neighborhood since this all started. Exercise and healthy eating are critical. You may not be able to visit people, but you can certainly talk to them on the phone or through text messages. Take a power nap during the afternoon. Healthy self-care also involves our minds and emotions so watch what you say to yourself. You may want to limit the amount of time you listen to the news as well.

Avoid toxic people. While you can’t spend time physically with toxic people, be careful on social media. There’s a lot of really negative people on there. There’s a lot of false information on there as well. Don’t believe everything you read on social media, and don’t spread that false information to others.

Watch your finances carefully. This is not the time to spend a lot of money online or to be wasteful with finances. At the same time, if you do buy a meal out, try to support a local restaurant as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to tip on your carryout either. Right now, people need extra money so be generous. Let’s try to help them stay in business.

Have some fun. Since I can’t get a haircut and can’t go anywhere, I haven’t shaved since this started. I’ve had a mustache for many years, but I’ve never grown a beard. I haven’t had hair this long either since the 1960s. My grand kids like to Face time me just to look at my beard. They think it’s funny, and we have a lot of fun with it.

Take this time to grow. Right now you have time to read, to study some subject you’ve been interested in, or to complete a project you’ve been wanting to do. Invest in yourself.

If you’re really struggling get yourself a support team. Call some friends, your pastor, include your spouse and other family. Be honest with them and tell them what you’re feeling. Let them love you, pray for you, and voice their support. It will help just knowing you are not alone during this time.

Look to the future. Things aren’t going to stay like this forever. Yes, we may have a new normal ahead of us, but things will improve. As a nation, we’ve been through many times worse than the one we’re going through now, and we’ve always landed on our feet. We will this time as well. So will each one of us if we don’t allow despair to win the day and keep looking to the future.

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