I realize I kind of left you guys hanging after my last corona post, serving up inspiration without any ways to take action. Unforgivable, I know. But I’m here to make up for it - so let’s get straight to the good stuff: how to leverage quarantine and how to get started today.
Let’s start with the word leverage because I’m a huge word nerd and that’s been one of my favorites recently. Now in order to qualify as a word nerd you also have to look up the definition of words, even if you already know the meaning. So here we go:
I think the key here is “something”. We aren’t using our strengths or our advantages; we’re using anything and making the most of it. So let’s get started.
I’m a firm believer that you need a strong foundation to build anything amazing. We humans are no exception. I’ll admit the basics are often boring, but let’s just get them out of the way.
1. Establish a Routine.
Blah, blah, blah I know everyone’s saying it. And I’m not advocating that you start a twelve step routine to become a millionaire in six weeks, but at the end of the day:
It’s as simple as that. And when I think about foundational routines in the context of quarantine, one word comes to mind: sleep. But it’s more than just how many hours you’re getting. Consistency is key. So, let’s try to (1) sleep for roughly the same number of hours every day and (2) go to bed and wake up at roughly the same times every day. That’s it. I’ve recently been loving the free app Sleep Cycle, as it tracks both sleep regularity and quality. Sleep is and will always be my #1 most important habit. In fact, sleep has replaced my best friend in her position as best friend.
2. Be grateful.
It’s really easy to get caught up in negative thoughts when there is so much chaos in the world, but this means that we often forget all of the things that we do have. One of the most amazing things about gratitude is that we don’t even have to really mean it to start reaping the benefits. So take five minutes, and just write down a list of things you’re grateful for, no matter how you’re actually feeling. Do this every day and before you know it, you’ll find yourself actually starting to appreciate how much you already have.
3. Live in day-tight compartments.
“How long do you think this will last?” “I’m missing out on my graduation.” “I’m going to go crazy.” What is one thing that these thoughts all have in common? They are stealing our energy and attention, often without us even realizing it. So, what do we do about it? We start living in today, every day. We live in day-tight compartments where thoughts like that are not allowed. We focus instead on what is accomplishable today, all that we have today, and everything that is making today awesome. Now this doesn’t mean we don’t think about the future at all, but that we only think about the future in the context of what we can do today. For concrete examples of this check out my post all about living in day-tight compartments.
The second part of living in day-tight compartments is reigning in our mischievous minds. We all know firsthand just how tricky they are, always thinking things we shouldn’t be thinking and worrying when there’s nothing to be done. So, how do we rid ourselves of thoughts like those I mentioned earlier? Stop trying to answer unanswerable questions by choosing where to redirect your energy and attention. Which leads me to my next point…
Let’s add some extra positivity into our lives.
4. Pick up a new habit.
Habits give us stability. Habits help us preserve willpower so that we have the freedom to explore whatever we want later. Now you might already have a habit in mind… you know that one you’ve been telling yourself you’d start forever. If not, don’t worry I have some options for you. As part of my extreme reverence for habits, I’ve created a guide explaining how I got started with positive habits and the order in which I added them to my life. There are plenty of habits to choose from in there. And if you’re struggling with how to actually stick to a habit, all I can say is take the smallest step possible, one that feels almost trivial.
5. Get uncomfy.
You knew this was coming… Cut out technology! Now I’m not saying go full medieval on us, but really try to get rid of some form of technology that is taking up way too much of your attention (for me this is definitely Netflix). You’d be surprised what a little boredom could do for you. Now I think the key here is that technology keeps us wrapped up tightly inside of our comfort zone. Try leaving your phone in your room for an entire day. You might find yourself looking to check that invisible phone and feeling quite naked without the cover of constant stimulation. When we start feeling uncomfortable, that’s when all growth happens. So let’s ditch our phones for a bit and see what we find in that space.
6. Add something you love.
That thing that you used to love doing as a kid, but stopped? Yeah, that’s exactly what you could use in your life right now. If nothing comes to mind right away, take this opportunity to ask all the people that were close to you - family and friends - and see if they remember what you used to love doing. It turns out that often what you love doing as a kid is very indicative of where your deep interests lie. When I did this, I discovered that I used to love writing and singing, who would’ve thought??
Let’s start exploring, figuring out who we are, and what we want from life.
I’m not going to lie - If you’ve made it this far, and you’ve been keeping up with everything we’ve already added, you are a pro-star-habit-athlete, and you should definitely teach me your ways. But this is where we get to the really good stuff. So without further ado…
7. Start a journal.
If you think you’re too cool for a journal, let me just tell you about some people that you might know that have journals: Albert Einstein, Marie Curie, Mark Twain, Charles Darwin, Lewis and Clark, Thomas Edison, Frida Kahla, Leonardo da Vinci, and the list goes on. If you are too cool for all of them, then you definitely don’t need my advice (please send me your secrets). But if you’re like the rest of us, then you might not even be realizing how much untapped potential you have. And journaling really can help you get there. Journaling allows you to eliminate clutter in your mind and make room for high-value activities. And if you’re wondering what to write about, don’t. Just get a piece of paper and start writing. Whatever comes out is exactly what you needed to write.
I could sit here and tell you all the benefits of meditation - that it reduces stress, improves mood, decreases anxiety, improves sleep quality, improves focus, and so much more… But you already know that meditation is good for you. It’s just hard. I tried to start meditating over and over again for an entire year before I finally figured out how to make it stick. It was by far the hardest habit I’ve ever added into my life, but was 1000% worth it.
9. Start a monthly challenge.
By this point you are clearly a master of making positive changes in your life, so let’s have some fun. Every month pick one new thing that you want to try adding into your life, every single day. It’s ok to be ambitious here, failing just means you get to try again next month. The original inspiration for this idea came from Benjamin Franklin, who chose to work on a different virtue every month for 13 months. Monthly challenges I’ve tried in the past include: meditating for an hour every day, finding a way to “play” every day, writing one blog post every day, writing 1000 words every day, writing a gratitude essay every day, getting into flow every day, and the list goes on. This is your chance to get creative and try adding literally anything you want into your life just to see what happens. Bonus: reflect on your experience at the end of the month to see if you can learn any lessons from the challenge.
You are absolutely crushing it. Now if you’re dying to go above and beyond, this one’s for you.
10. Do something nice for someone else. Every. Single. Day.
It doesn’t have to be anything big. In fact, it can be as simple as sending someone a quick text message telling them how much you value having them in your life. The point is, there are a lot of people struggling right now, and this world could use every bit of positivity it can get. This is the ultimate win-win because spreading kindness and positivity doesn’t just brighten other people’s days, it makes you feel better too.
So, in summary…
- Do something nice for someone else. Every. Single. Day.
We’ve all got a lot on our plates right now. We don’t know how long this is going to last or even what’s going to happen tomorrow, but at the end of the day, all we can do is give it our best and try to make the most out of this opportunity.