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​Isolated? Here Are 7 Things You Can Do to Make Your Life Better

By Steve Austin | catching your breath

Apr 19

7 Ways to Make Your Life Better During Isolation

This COVID-19 crisis has radically changed our lives. Just a few months ago, we had no idea our 'world' would be confined to our homes!

This crisis is a powerful reminder of how important freedom is - and how much we need human connection! 

Remember you are not alone. Because what is different here is that everyone is impacted! Your neighbor, mom, boss, and friends; plus your friends and family around the world are all going through something similar.

So, it's important to remember, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.” (Viktor E. Frankl)

If you’re sitting over there thinking, “Yea, if only it was that easy,” I hear you. But I really do think the only way forward is to make the most of our time stuck at home. 

​​Isolated? Here Are 7 Things You Can Do to Make Your Life Better

7 Ways to Make Your Life Better During Isolation

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

1) Create a Healthy, Supportive Routine

When we feel powerless or helpless (as so many of us do at the moment), one extremely easy thing to do is to create a routine or schedule.

While we're all stuck in anxiously waiting at home, it's easy to lose our sense of time. Days can begin to blend into each other. A routine can give us an anchor and greater sense of control over our lives. And if you have children, creating a routine is especially important to give them a sense of normality.

This routine or schedule can be as simple as:

  • 7am - Wake-up

  • 8am - Breakfast

  • 10am - Exercise

  • 11am - Talk to friends

  • 12.00pm - Lunch

  • 1-4pm - Learning or a home project

  • 5pm - Make & Eat Dinner

  • 7pm - Talk to close family

  • 8pm - Reading, Journaling

  • 10pm - Bed

Be sure to include food preparation, social time, exercise and outdoor time and some learning or creativity so you get some benefit from this challenging time.

It's also important to recognize weekends because it's too easy for weeks to blur together. So, make a lighter schedule for your weekends. For example, you could include:

  • Sleeping in/later bedtime

  • Brunch

  • "Treats"

  • Movie night with popcorn

  • A virtual happy hour with friends or colleagues

  • A larger project, perhaps some art, craft, gardening or home redecoration.

So, create a routine for a sense of control and mastery over your environment and life circumstances. Reclaim what power you can have over your own life, because with all this uncertainty it's important for you - and especially important for children - to have predictability.

Feeling out of control during isolation? Create a routine to reclaim your power. via @iamsteveaustin

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2) Learn with Non-Fiction Books:

Use this time at home to educate yourself with non-fiction books. There is so much to be gained: like self-confidence, negotiation skills, health (sleep, nutrition), how to have difficult conversations and much more.

What keeps you up at night? There's probably a book about that! What do you wish you were better at? There's probably a book about that too!

Here are a few of my favorite non-fiction books to get you thinking:

Reading one book will expand your mind, reading several of these books is going to make you more interesting, help you learn new skills - and maybe even make you more employable too!

​Isolation got you down? Check out this list of non-fiction books to learn a new skill today! via @iamsteveaustin

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3) Explore your Life Vision:

Rather than watching endless news streams, you can choose to focus on a bigger picture: your future. What do you want from the rest of your life? What would you regret not doing? Where do you envision yourself in 10 years?

Having a clear vision of how you want your life to be is a powerful motivator. A vision helps us work towards our goals, take action and make change. Soon, we'll all be super-busy again - and a vision might be just what you need to stay focused!

Here are 5 questions to ​explore your life vision:

  1. What do you desire or yearn for in your life?
  2. How do you want to feel?
  3. What do you really, really want to be different in your life?
  4. In the next 3 years, what could happen in your life that would make you feel spectacular about yourself?
  5. What's your dream for this lifetime? Imagine you're 90 years old and looking back over your life; what did you do that made you proud and happy?

TIP: Remember to think possibility not probability! Don't limit yourself and your ideas because you don't believe something is likely. Instead believe it's possible - and even if you don't get all the way there, you may get close - or even find something better along the way!

For a limited time, I’m offering 25% off my private Soul Care Sessions. If you’d like some help creating a vision for your life, click this link and use the discount code WELCOME at checkout. Just click here.

​​Isolation is a great time to get clear on your life vision! Here are 5 questions to ponder to go deeper. via @iamsteveaustin​

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4) Be in the moment:

At this moment you are OK. You are safe. Take one day at a time. One hour or even one breath at a time if you need to.

This tip is about being super-present, not thinking ahead or remembering the past, but practicing being.

Or as the Bible says, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” (Matthew 6:34)

This is a practice - meaning you will have to do it over and over again - bringing yourself back to the now. Over time it gets easier, and it's a great skill to have to take back to "normal" life.

So when you notice you're worrying, feeling twitchy and want to pick up your device and find out what the "latest" is about the COVID situation, say to yourself, "It's OK. At this moment, I am safe. At this moment I am OK."  You can also add or say, "At this moment, my children/husband/family are safe."

Begin a Meditation Practice

One of my favorite ways to practice being in the moment is through meditation. Meditation is a practice that has been proven scientifically to calm us, help us be more creative and be happier (for starters). It's extremely beneficial.

There is a lot to learn about meditation - and it's called a Meditation Practice for a reason. But it's also not as hard as it sounds. You can start with as little as 5 minutes a day - and it's good to build a routine, so you meditate at the same time every day. Get a book on "Meditation for Beginners" or go to Youtube or Google and search for "How to Meditate". Another good place to start is a "Loving Kindness" meditation. Again, search online and you'll have lots of options to choose from.

It helps to have a quiet space without interruptions - which many of us don't have at the moment. And for some people, trying to meditate when anxious can be stressful. If this is the case, listen to a relaxing guided meditation instead. Our family loves to use Insight Timer.

Another idea is to listen to a sleep meditation or "Body Scan Meditation" before going to sleep. Not sure where to start? Try my progressive muscle relaxation (just click here). Or download the Insight Timer app to your smart device.

EXTRA TIP: Reduce or minimize how often you watch and read the news! And don’t read or watch the news (or articles about COVID-19 or similar) when you first wake up or just before bed!

​At this moment, I am safe. At this moment I am OK. Here's how to practice mindfulness during a pandemic. via @iamsteveaustin

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5) Laugh

Distracting ourselves from our fears is a valid technique for feeling better!

Laughter releases helpful chemicals in our bloodstream

  • Endorphins (our natural "happy" drug) 

  • Dopamine (part of our bodily "reward" system).

What are your favorite comedy shows?

    • A couple of my favorites are Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or The Good Place.

  • Is there a comedian you like?

    • I love watching old YouTube clips of Robin Williams.

  • Netflix has so many watching options, so find something that makes you laugh!

IMPORTANT: We should not use over-use laughter as a distraction technique. And it shouldn't be used for ongoing and persistent fears in regular life. But for a situation like this, where this isn't much that any of us can do other than sit and wait - distraction can be a great coping mechanism.

​Isolated? Distract yourself with laughter! via @iamsteveaustin

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6) Start a Journal!

If you've always wanted to journal, now is a good time to start. More than just keeping a record of your day, a journal can help you explore and sift through your feelings and experiences and learn from them. It's a great way to get to know you.

It's great to choose a beautiful notebook, but the most important thing is to just get started. Here are some prompts to get started with:

  • Today I am feeling _________. I think this is because __________.

  • One big thing I have learned during this crisis is _________.

  • I remember the last time I was stuck in the house _________.

  • One thing that's surprised me recently is _________.

  • What matters most to me in life is _________.

  • Describe your ideal day _________.

You may find this How to Journal article from the IAJW (International Association for Journal Writing) helpful to get you started.

Or perhaps you want to join me in taking Tracy Winchell’s 30 Days of Gratitude Course. Here’s the link.

Journaling is one of the best habits I’ve built for my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. And if you’re scared for others to know your deepest, darkest secrets, you can always burn the paper after you write it - or save it in a password protected document online.

​6 Journaling Prompts to Ponder During Isolation via @iamsteveaustin

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7) Live Your Values

When we know our values, we understand what motivates and drives us. When we build our lives around our values, we create a life that is meaningful. Finally, when we align our actions with our values - we're being truly authentic. It's a very satisfying and fulfilling way to live.

And living your values could be the single most important thing any of us can do right now.

Here's one of my favorite coaching exercises you can do today:

  1. List your values on a piece of paper or in your journal.

  2. Give each value a score ___ / 10 as to how well you are living that value in your life now (where 0 is not at all and 10 is full-out).

  3. For the scores that are 8 or more - great!

  4. For the scores that are 7 or less out of 10, ask yourself, "How could I express this value more in my life right now?" "What could I do differently or approach differently, so that I feel good about how I live this value in my life?"

For example: You have a value of creativity, but you're only managing to 'go through the motions' right now and your score is 4/10. Ask yourself how you could be more creative during this time - whether it's cooking, gardening, art, writing, helping your kids do something creative, or even watching a documentary about someone creative you admire…

If you don’t know your values, now is a great time to learn. As a reminder, I’m offering 25% off my private Soul Care Sessions. If you’d like some help in reviewing your values, click this link and use the discount code WELCOME at checkout. Just click here.

​What are your personal core values? Ask yourself these 4 questions to get started. via @iamsteveaustin

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Wrap-up

So, which of the above ideas resonated with you? The areas I am focusing on are being in the moment and having a routine, because both of them give me permission to not work 24/7. 

If you believe you have the skills and power to make the best of a difficult situation, you’ll find a way. 

This current and strange COVID-19 situation will end. And when it does, you'll be proud you made the effort to learn something: whether it's about yourself, fresh knowledge, or a new skill. You have a choice: choose to make your life better.

Bio: Steve Austin is a writer, coach, podcaster, and former pastor whose work has been featured in USA Today, Huffington Post, Relevant, and other outlets. Austin nearly died by suicide after secretly suffering from depression, anxiety, and PTSD, and he has become a leading voice at the intersection of faith and mental health. Austin resides in Birmingham, Alabama, with his wife and two kids, and he loves all things peanut butter and chocolate. To learn more about Steve, click here.

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​Isolated? Here Are 7 Things You Can Do to Make Your Life Better. via @iamsteveaustin

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About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

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