Like so many of you, my anxiety has been off the charts the past few weeks. Some days I've made myself turn off the news and twitter so my mind could get a break from the constant barrage of bad news.
Thank God I have my dad during times of crisis. Not just because he is my best friend, but because of his unrelenting optimism. I call him the "Zen Master" like Phil Jackson. I think because of his history as a long-distance runner, he has an uncanny ability to control his mind.
It's not always easy, and it takes practice like everything else in life.
In fact, a lot of times, you have to play mental games to get through things. I want to share some of the techniques he has taught me, plus some tricks of the trade from others I've learned along the way:
1. Think Positive - Positive thinking is the only way to go through this life. It's easy to live in a worst-case scenario mindset, but visualizing a good situation makes you feel better and makes it more likely to happen.
2. Live In the moment - Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a present. We cannot control what happens in the future, but we can be appreciative of right here, right now. Remember that "life by the inch is a synch, life by the yard is hard."
3. Count the time you have completed, not how much you have remaining - We have months to go before we get through this, but we're going to think about how much time we've already got down. 1-2 weeks down already, boom. Think about where we were last week? We are way ahead of that time now.
4. Draw graphs/charts - One time, I was bored in a college class, and I sent my dad a picture of these charts/graphs I drew to break down the time remaining. Although we never discussed it, my dad showed me where he had been doing the same thing at work. If you ever see me in a boring meeting, I'm drawing pie charts and other graphs to help me visualize how much time I've completed.
5. Remind yourself of the facts - Don't create conspiracy theories about yourself in your mind. Remind yourself of the facts, not doomsday scenarios.
6. Only focus on what you can control - We don't have control over much in life. We can wash our hands, practice social distancing, and manage our thoughts. Other than that, we can't control much in this crazy world. We can't focus on things we have no control over.
7. Make others smile - Everybody is struggling right now. Perform a random act of kindness to brighten someone else's day. You don't know how much that will help them.
8. Listen to music - Listening to music is therapeutic. There are mental and physical benefits from listening to music you enjoy.
9. Talk to someone - I don't have a therapist (yet), so I often spill my guts out to my parents or girlfriend. I let them know what's been bothering me and what I'm afraid of. Usually, I hear how irrational I'm being in the middle of my diatribe.
10. Meditate - Close your eyes and take slow, soft breaths. Even better, get on YouTube or download the meditation apps. Again, there are health benefits to meditation.
I'm not a doctor, these are just techniques I've learned that help me. If you are seriously struggling with mental health, you need to reach out to a medical professional who can help you a lot more than I ever could.
This pandemic is going to get worse before it gets better. But we're going to get through this together. Until then, we can't let our minds run wild. Let's take this seriously, and stay home so we can help #FlattenTheCurve.
Tweet him @Pat_Benson_Jr