Ten user-friendly ideas to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
How are you coping with the pandemic? How is it impacting your life, your relationships and your future plans?
We probably all know someone who has died as a result of the Covid virus, and people who have lost jobs or businesses as a result of the impact of the virus on their community or country.
Earlier today I read yet another article about how Covid-19 has impacted mental health. While I have shared thoughts about this in previous blogs, the concern increases about the long-term mental health issues as we are subjected to more lockdowns, border closures, self-isolation requirements, and further restrictions on our movements.
There is also the real danger that we buy into much of the fear mongering being led by political leaders, scientists and members of the media.
How must I discern the way ahead? How do I respond to this pandemic and remain a responsible citizen, fully aware of the inherent potential consequences if I catch the virus?
Although I am now retired and, therefore, not facing a possible job loss, reduced income or losing my business, I made a choice some time ago to take charge of my health and wellbeing and to keep looking positively into the future.
My ten ways to beat the pandemic
So, my average day follows a loose, flexible structure. Self-discipline is important, as is choice of activities. I have been a goal setter for most of my life. Goals – annual, broken down into monthly targets – give me a focus; they inspire and motivate me to keep on keeping on when I feel like quitting or permanently retiring from the writing tasks I have set myself for 2021.
During the informal discussions I have with others, especially with young people, I will happily share most of these ten ways to beat the pandemic. They can be woven into a life skills framework and adapted by anyone who wishes to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
- Reflection and prayer time: when I wake up in the morning (I am an early riser), I make a cup of tea and spend between forty-five and sixty minutes reading my Bible, reflecting on the daily message and praying. My Christian faith is the foundation of my life, a continual reminder that I never walk alone as I seek God’s purpose for my day and life. This is the all important me time of my day.
- This is followed by a healthy breakfast during which time I read the morning newspaper – admission: I have been a newspaper addict for much of my life! I don’t allow myself to get caught up in much of the current doom and gloom news, or the pandemic fear mongering which some journalists clearly subscribe to. As a retired History teacher, I know how to ‘speed read’. On many days it is challenging to find any positive news at all. How I wish more newspaper editors would sow more positive messages of HOPE!
- Then, if it is not raining, I head off on my approximately eight kilometers beach walk – a time for further reflection, meditation, prayer, planning, thinking innovatively and creatively, while simply enjoying being at one with nature. I never carry a phone or listen to music or anything else while I exercise. I want to experience the beauty of the day. I smile and exchange greetings with others on the beach, not just to be friendly, but because I know these actions release positive ‘feel-good’ chemicals in my aging brain.
- I return home, shower and, over a cup of coffee, read for about thirty to forty-five minutes. This is usually a book that will inspire or motivate me. A friend encouraged me to create an eco-friendly garden, so I added a bird bath and a bird feeder, as well as a bird feeding tray. I feed the birds just before I have my coffee. They are usually waiting for me, so there is this delightful time of interacting with nature.
- Thereafter, on most (not all) days, I head into my creating space which can take a variety of forms. Currently I am writing books and EBooks to promote the spirit of mentoring and to encourage others, especially those in the youth mentoring field. Towards the end of the week I’ll set time aside to draw up my daily schedule of Facebook and Instagram mentoring posts for the week ahead – all aimed at encouraging those in the mentoring field.
- Once a week (on average) I’ll head off to a local cafe I support to buy a takeaway coffee and a pie for lunch (my unhealthy binge!). This is my small way to support a local business during these tough pandemic times which have hit the hospitality businesses particularly hard.
- I make a point of communicating with friends or acquaintances each day, encouraging where I can, or sharing ideas or thoughts about a topic of mutual interest. Or I might write a blog, always with a message of hope and encouragement. Earlier this week I myself was encouraged by a reader of a blog I wrote about my cancer journey which I shared on the I Had Cancer website. This reader wrote: “But nothing is too big or too difficult to overcome when applying a positive mindset, have good support structures in place, and unshakeable belief in Jesus Christ our Savior to guide and lead us. Maybe when you wrote it [the blog], you meant it to have a different meaning, but to me it gave me hope and almost a liberation that things will be okay.”
- My wife and I keep in regular communication with immediate family – which includes babysitting our two lovely grandchildren and having plenty of fun with them – especially family members in lockdown situations who live on their own. We laugh lots during these interactions, share our experiences, have some small talk and sow messages of hope for the future.
- Either my wife or I take responsibility for the evening meal. I have a more limited recipe folder! Most evenings we eat at the table. Television off. No phones. A time to catch up on all that’s going on, share thoughts, ideas, experiences and future plans. An important part of our day, especially as my wife still works part-time, preferring a gradual journey towards retirement. So, we share chores around the house like cleaning, gardening or clearing up after meals.
- Most days I will spend an hour or two tackling a jigsaw puzzle, as I know an activity like this is important for maintaining a healthy brain as I grow older. Or, I’ll read a light novel which usually involves positive relationships, as I don’t want violence and suffering to cloud my thinking during these pandemic times. I also intend to head off to a golf driving range soon, now that my damaged shoulder is healed, or return to the beach to fish. The fish love my presence, as they regard it as a free feed. Occasionally – very occasionally – one of them makes a poor choice and I return home with a meal. We are not immune to those who are suffering during these difficult times, and support charities which are looking after the homeless, or supplying food parcels to the strugglers, or helping others facing tough times.
Everyone will follow a lifestyle that works for them. These ten ways to beat the pandemic allow me to lead a positive, active life. I never stop learning more about myself and how I can encourage others.
Ideas to manage your mental health
As I reflected on the content of this blog a short while ago, an article crossed my path. The National Mental Health Commission in Australia is encouraging people to make time for the important things, as this will help us cope with the challenges.
I was pleased to read that my list of ten ways to beat the pandemic includes their suggested top six ideas to manage mental health:
- Make time for creativity.
- Make time for connection.
- Make time for exercise.
- Make time for nature.
- Make time to check in.
- Make time for yourself.
Most of the content of this blog can be shared with young people to encourage them to look with hope at the future; to appreciate that beyond the pandemic storm clouds the sun will shine again; to help them develop their resilience, friendships and to build a network of support around themselves.
Maybe you have more positive ideas to share to encourage others during these challenging times?