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Keep calm and carry on: Virus or no virus, make the best of your summer

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Keep calm and carry on: Virus or no virus, make the best of your summer

2020 is fast becoming the year we will always remember.  A year that will be recorded in the history books as that of the global COVID-19 pandemic. A time of crisis, challenge, change, uncertainty, cancellations, loss, trauma, sickness, death, grief, chaos, stress – all in epic proportions.

As we celebrated the start of a new year, and considered our dreams, goals and intentions, who knew that in just a couple of months, a deadly virus would have such a devastating and immediate impact on our lives and our economy. While we hoped it would be gone after a few weeks, we are now facing the grim reality that the coronavirus will be with us for much longer than any of us anticipated.The future is not going to be what we thought it would be a few months ago.

Focus on what we can do, rather than what we cannot do

Summer rituals and traditions have been postponed this year. There are no big events, large gatherings or celebrations. Travel restrictions and physical distancing remain in place. Masks and hand sanitizers are this year’s ‘musthave’ accessories. Does all this mean that our summer is cancelled? Or that fun is off the menu?

For small businesses in tourist hotspots or those working in the hospitality industry, it may feel like summer is cancelled. For the rest of us, it is important to focus on what we can do, rather than what we cannot do. What we have, rather than what is lost.

We have seen a tremendous amount of creativity during this pandemic as people shift, pivot and adjust. If we adjust our expectations and use our imagination to find ways to enjoy what is available to us, then it is possible to get a summer break. Life can be short – it is important we make the best of what we have. Time moves on, virus or no virus, and we will not get this time back. So, we can choose to sleepwalk through the summer, wishing it were different, complaining about it, or we can accept the ‘new normal’ and navigate around it. The latter will give our mental health the summer vacation it needs and ensure we do not end up burnt out by the time September comes around.

Find ways to support yourself

Staying healthy – physically and emotionally, remains a priority, even through the summer. Do not be lulled into a false sense of security with warmer weather, fewer COVID cases and easing of restrictions. A strong immune system remains our best defence again infection. Here are six basic ways to support yourself:

1. Exercise or movement – ideally outside, and close to nature. Choose something that brings you joy and does not require a lot of effort or resources to get  started or maintain. Move throughout the day – little and often can be more beneficial than intense, infrequent exercise.

2. Connection – to people who lift your spirits, inspire, energize, encourage, love, help and support you. In turn, you can do the same for them.

3. Nutrition – eat more vegetables and frui, whatever is in season. Eat the colours of the rainbow. Include anti-viral foods/herbs such as garlic, ginger, oregano, sage, basil. Minimize processed, refined, sugar-laden food and drinks. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.

4. Sleep – reduce screen time an hour before bedtime. Limit stimulants like caffeine and alcohol. Avoid intense exercise within four hours of bedtime. Keep your room dark and well ventilated.

5. Meditation/mindfulness – breathe deeply and slowly, from your belly not your chest. Stay calm, find peace of mind. Be present. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Practice gratitude.

6. Digital detox – periodically, disconnect from technology. Learn to be selective and intentional with your online time and pay attention to how you engage with your various devices and apps (especially those that distract and hijack your time and focus). Less is more.

I once heard someone say, “Each morning, the moment you take your head off the pillow, you have all you need”. A sobering thought that offers us some perspective. Our summer may not be the one we had hoped for, but it is certainly not cancelled and neither does it have to be lost.

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