Right now, you can rise above the chaos in the world by intentionally living your best life. You can refocus your time on what matters most and set goals that help you thrive in this season of uncertainty. Now is the time to shift your focus with greater perspective, and adjust your goals to what truly matters in your life.
I wrote last Tuesday about the anxiety that I'm feeling these days, thanks to my husband's COVID-19 layoff and all the illness hysteria in the media. I've been praying through that anxiety, but it lurks in the back of my mind.
If I let it, that worry would zap all the energy I have to focus on my personal goals. I don't let it.
I think living intentionally, setting goals, focusing, and then crushing them, is what makes me successful. I am (dare I say it?) enjoying this social distancing quiet time at home, endless time to foster the relationships with my kids and husband, to clean the house, to pursue my hobbies of blogging and gardening and reading and exercise, to soak up the warm spring sunshine, to focus on myself.
Life looks different these days for all of us. Normally, I am running my kids all over town to lessons and practices, leaving me little time to putter around in my flower garden and grow plants from seeds and pick up toys and listen to audiobooks.
The thing that is pulling me away from working toward my goals right now is Facebook. Maybe you're like me, and your focus is continually pulled away by the news and general uncertainty. When that happens, it's easy to feel stuck.
Don't be afraid to scratch out, add to, or adjust your goals. You can even consider some goals paused if that feels better. What matters is that you start doing small things right now—right where you are and with what you have —and those will add up to the big things you will look back on and be thankful for.
Listen, I'm not here to tell you that you should learn a new language or tackle big projects. Maybe you don't have those things in you, and that's perfectly okay. But I promise you that you do have it in yourself to attack one or more of the items on the list below. You CAN make this a positive, intentional time of your life, and it can become a time of great gains, one small step at a time.
30 Small Ways to Live Intentionally in Uncertain Times
- Treat yourself. Break out the good candle, the delicious-smelling lotion, or the decadent chocolates. Use your favorite stickers and pens in your journal. Treat yourself to the little luxuries you already have around your house.
- Connect with your people. Take time to really listen to your spouse and your kids. Everyone likely has things he or she needs to process right now.
- Stay safe. Wipe down all the touch points in your home with a disinfecting wipe.
- Maintain a schedule. Keep a consistent bedtime and wake time. I'm horrible about this, but it's important for our physical well-being.
- Step away and rest. Follow the 20-20-20 rule: look 20 feet away from your screen at least every 20 minutes for 20 seconds to help your brain and eyes rest. Better yet, step 20 feet away!
- Connect with God. Pray. Reach out to friends and ask them what you can be praying for.
- Get outside. Take a walk around your neighborhood or in a park. Do this every day if possible.
- Take your kids outside. Skip the playground and visit a nearby wilderness area or rural park. Take a pocket microscope and look at all the things you normally miss. Find some boulders and draw on them with sidewalk chalk. We've done both since social distancing began, and we've had a blast!
- Enjoy music. Listen to an inspiring or calming playlist. I love David Nevue's piano music and the Amazon praise and worship station, both on my Alexa.
- Enjoy reading. I love audiobooks and listen to them every day, but I know some people like to read written words. They're equally beneficial for your brain and help you to escape into another world, even if only for a little while. They also help you to think about something other than the chaos in the world. Here are my favorite audiobooks from the past year. If you haven't heard, Audible is offering free streaming audiobooks for as long as school is cancelled. They're mostly kids' books, but there are some classics as well. Check that out here. The only downside to that is that you don't get to own the audiobooks for listening later. If you prefer to own them, check out an Audible subscription here. You get to choose 3 audiobooks a month, and they are yours to keep forever.
- Share the good. Share good news and moments of brightness in text messages and on social media.
- Remember gratitude. Write in a gratitude journal or pray thanks to God every day. I recently shared A Grateful Heart, a printable 2-week Bible study with a daily reading, scripture writing, a short devotional, and reflection questions.
- Clean the house. Especially if you're spending a lot of time inside, it will feel good to live in a cleaner, tidier space.
- Spread kindness. When you need to run out for an errand, take a minute to thank the store employee checking you out. Offer to buy her a drink to enjoy on her break.
- Study the Bible. Reading and studying the Bible, writing the scriptures, and receiving God's words is infinitely calming, especially during troubling times. As I said above, I recently published A Grateful Heart. I've gotten fantastic feedback on it so far, so I think it will be really helpful.
- Help your kids connect. Organize FaceTime or WhatsApp dates with your kids' friends. Allie just got off of a WhatsApp video call with her best friend, and she is happier than she's been all day.
- Exercise at home. There are lots of YouTube workouts that you can do, including Yoga with Adriene, Melissa Wood Health, and Balanced Life Online. My friend Jamie is also doing daily workouts on her Instagram. You can find her at Shine Strong NC.
- Give generously. Even if you're not attending in person, go online to give to your church and other organizations that are helping people in these difficult times.
- Give someone a real treat. Get out pen and paper and write a letter to relative or friend.
- Have a family game night. Have a screen-free evening and play some games. My family time resource pack has lots of ideas for connecting through games including Farkle and Yahtzee as well as Would You Rather questions and conversation starters.
- Treat yourself. Bake something. Brownies are good and use typical pantry ingredients. Cheesecake is good, too.
- Connect outside your home. This is a great time to FaceTime or call a friend or your extended family. Especially don't forget about the elderly who are feeling particularly isolated and vulnerable right now.
- Plan a garden and get out in the dirt. If you are able to get outside, now is the perfect time to order seeds and create an at-home space to enjoy. I just placed a big order with Park Seeds, and I can't wait for it to arrive.
- Support small businesses. Social distancing is hitting small businesses especially hard. Write great reviews on Facebook, Trip Advisor, Google, and Yelp to support your favorite local restaurants, event professionals, and small businesses.
- Encourage your neighbors. Drop a note in your neighbors' mailboxes offering to make deliveries and share recipes.
- Plan an at-home date night.
- Read new books. Libraries are closed, but you could organize a book swap in your neighborhood by leaving books on each other's doorsteps. Wipe them down with a sanitizing wipe before reading.
- Rotate toys. Every week or so, cycle some toys in and out from storage to keep things fresh for your kids.
- Be flexible with screen time. Are you spending more time than normal on your phone, to connect with friends and keep up with current events? Your kids want to do the same. Allow them more screen time than you normally would.
- Purge and organize an area of your home. While I type, Joe is going through our dining room. Since he's been off work, he has systematically been cleaning, purging, and organizing the whole house. I'm grateful, especially because he is far more ruthless than I am and that means he does a more thorough job of it.
Your life is different now than it was three weeks ago, but that doesn't mean you need to be aimless and unproductive. You can relax, enjoy the time off, spend time with your people, and still make progress toward your goals. When this is over, you can feel good about the time you've spent and what you've accomplished.
What are you doing to live intentionally right now?
For more posts like this, check out the mental health index.