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Choose Peace Over Panic

Let’s face it, we don’t even know what is “normal” anymore. Routines and rules have gone out the window. As we all navigate these uncharted waters, it is important to maintain focus on what matters.

The stress of the constant news cycle, fears of an incredibly contagious illness and disruption of day-to-day life have consequences. Rates of anxiety, depression and grief are incredibly high right now. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. This adversity we are currently facing is new and the long-term psychological consequences have yet to be determined. Even so, we can foster resilience and adapt as we go. We can tap into the coping skills and self-care skill sets we already have, in addition to building a sense of community.

If you are reading this, you are already off to a good start. By choosing to invest your energy in something positive, you have already chosen self-care over negativity. Several suggestions will follow for more positive steps you can take. With every choice you make and everything you do, maintain a commitment to your health and your growth.

Be especially mindful of the habits you create right now. This is not a week long vacation or even summer break. For example, if you sleep late every day, but are off work for a month, how hard will it be to break a month-long habit? If you do not create a routine for your kids and they do not go back to school for several months, imagine how hard it will be for them to adjust to a new routine when school resumes. The habits you create right now will have to be reconciled with returning to school and work - choose wisely. Conversely, if this time away from work leads you to engage in more stress relieving practices, you may love it so much you never give it up!

Speak What you Seek

  • Invest in the power of self-talk. How you talk to yourself creates your mood. Talk to yourself kindly and with empowering language.

  • Verbalize goals and plans to yourself and loved ones.

  • Avoid negative self-talk and feeling guilty for moving more slowly or taking more breaks.

  • Watch out for catastrophic and fear-based thinking. We are in a scary situation, but if we solely focus on fear, we lose track of what is going well.

  • Watch your language! When you start to use the word “should” a lot, we might lose track of what we actually want. Erase shoulds from your vocabulary by asking yourself if you really want to do it. Watch negative language and pessimistic talk because our body responds accordingly.

Focus on Maintenance of Physical Health

  • Try to stick to a regular sleeping schedule. Wake up and go to bed at times similar to your typical routine. Your body will appreciate maintaining a healthy sleep cycle.

  • Eat healthy food to boost immunity. Increase consumption of fresh produce and greens.

  • Avoid eating out of boredom. Ask yourself if you are truly hungry when you start to crave a snack. Try drinking water first.

  • Stay hydrated. Proper hydration helps maintain the body’s ability to detoxify and boost immunity.

  • Keep up with exercise routines and stay moving.

Boost Emotional Health

  • Solving the biggest problems starts with the simplest thing: a deep breath. Deep breathing increases blood flow to the brain so we think more clearly.

  • Show yourself grace for whatever you are feeling. It is okay to feel unhappy or anxious right now, don’t be hard on yourself.

  • Ask yourself, “What is in my power to do right now to feel good?” Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you cannot do. Call someone, go for a walk, whatever it takes to emphasize that you have more control that you realize. Empower yourself towards solutions.

  • Take time for self-care multiple times per day, not just once. Journal, reach out to loved ones, take deep breaths, do yoga, walk or run.

Create Routines for Success

  • Break your day into parts (e.g., morning, early afternoon, late afternoon, evening). Choose one task, one self-care activity, and one break activity for each part. Set a goal to drink a certain amount of water for each part. Break up meals/snacks for parts.

  • Set identifiable small goals for each day and week. Invest daily in your goals. And congratulate yourself on accomplishments!

  • Have a self-care and hygiene routine daily. Wash your face, brush your teeth, get dressed, even if it’s only for a little while and even if your outfit is yoga pants.

  • Pick tasks that you often wish you could take longer to do and do them mindfully! Take that long bath you never have time to take, give yourself the manicure you always put off, make your favorite food from scratch. Take deep breaths during each step and invite yourself to be mindful of how you feel and what is happening as you proceed.

  • Do a good deed daily to stay focused on the positive and building community.

While there is no magic recipe for feeling great, the choice to invest in positivity and love is a great way to start. Trust yourself, take care of yourself. You are stronger than you realize.

Choose peace over panic.

Choose faith over fear.

Choose kindness over chaos.

Choose happy.


Dr. Nicole

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