I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel weary and a bit hopeless. That’s not like me. This year—2020—is wearing on me.
It’s no wonder. Just look at the facts to understand why.
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, 916,296 people have died of COVID-19. As I write this (on the anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City), there have been 28,488,957 confirmed cases in 213 countries and territories.
Additionally, there is massive unrest in the U.S. Between May 24 and August 22, ACLED recorded more than 10,600 demonstration events across the country. Over 10,100 of these involved peaceful protesters, while approximately 570 involve demonstrators engaging in violence. Well over 80% of all demonstrations are connected to the Black Lives Matter movement or the COVID-19 pandemic. Compared to last summer, that’s an increase of 42%.
And then there are the fires on the West Coast of the U.S., where I live. As of September 9, there have been 7,563 fire incidents in California in 2020. A total of 2,178,015 acres have burned and more than 4,265 structures damaged or destroyed—not to mention the eight fatalities as of September 9.
This has caused horrific air-quality issues—ones that caused San Francisco Bay Area residents to wake up to yellow-orange skies like something out of a sci-fi movie. Just as COVID-19 sent us into our homes for safety, the smokey air has sent us indoors, windows closed, air purifiers on.
And then there is the unemployment issue. The COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting economic downturn grew the ranks of unemployed Americans by more than 14 million, from 6.2 million in February to 20.5 million in May 2020. As a result, the U.S. unemployment rate increased from 3.8% in February to 13.0% in May. According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data, the rise in the number of unemployed workers due to COVID-19 is greater than the increase due to the Great Recession.
Plus, there is the upcoming U.S. Presidential election…and the heightened political division Americans currently feel.
Except for the world-wide COVID-19 stats, these facts relate only to the U.S. Yet, much of the world seems to be struggling, too.
As I said, it’s no wonder we feel fatigued and hopeless.
Regain Your Energy and Hope
I’m sure that, like me, you would prefer to feel energetic and hopeful. That’s my normal state of being.
When I found myself feeling tired and depressed during the last few weeks, I knew something was wrong. The threat of fires, another heatwave, and the horrible air quality, not to mention the fact that my husband was still out of work, were the straws that broke this camel’s back.
It was just much…
I didn’t want to remain fatigued and hopeless, though. So I set out to create a strategy to remedy the problem.
Since I’m a Certified High Performance Coach, I pulled out my high-performance toolbox. Additionally, I grabbed a few tools from my spiritual toolbox. I carefully chose the ones that I felt would be most effective, and I added them to my strategy.
And that strategy worked. Within just a day or two, I felt better. I had more energy and hope, which is why I want to share it with you.
If you implement the following seven-part strategy, I feel confident that, like me, you will begin to lessen the 2020 fatigue and hopelessness you feel.
1. Get strong!
Here in California, it’s almost impossible to do anything outside right now. My daily walks are at a standstill due to the air quality, and I can’t ride my bike. I can still exercise inside to some degree.
Why is exercise important? Moving your body releases hormones called endorphins that make you feel good. Plus, sweating releases toxins from your body, which also makes you feel good.
Yes, exercise is about strengthening your body, but, in the process, you also support your mental and emotional state. Surviving 2020 requires a strong mental and emotional state. Of course, a healthy body helps, too—especially if you get sick. But when you feel good and strong emotionally and mentally, you approach every challenge with a more positive mindset. And that’s essential right now.
2. Focus your attention.
I don’t usually watch a lot of news—just enough to stay apprised of what’s happening globally. When the coronavirus pandemic hit, though, I started watching a lot of news. The more I watched—or read online—the more my mood and productivity plummeted.
So, I backed off all the online news I was consuming. Instead, I joined my husband in watching the news in the evening—local and national. This was still more than I had been watching before March 2020.
As of this week, I am cutting back again. Instead of news, I’ll read a book, listen to a positive podcast, take an online course, work on a passion project, or watch a feel-good show or movie.
I am all for staying on top of national and world news, but a constant barrage of bad news is not good for your psyche or soul. And it places your focus on negative things that are, to a great extent, outside of your control.
Try reducing your news consumption as well. In the extra time you have, find something positive, motivating, or inspirational to focus your attention. Watch how your mood and energy level improve.
3. Be of service.
Many people look at what is happening in the world and feel helpless. They assume, with good reason, they can’t make a difference.
Feeling that way weighs on you…makes you feel heavy, unmotivated, and tired. Maybe depression sets in and makes you want to go to bed and pull the covers up over your head.
You may not have the ability to put out wildfires, solve race issues, or create a vaccine, but you can make a difference. You can be of service to your family and friends. You can contribute to your community. You can help your clients or customers.
Every day when I coach clients or write and publish blog posts like this one, I feel confident I make a difference in people’s lives. My impact might be small compared to protestors, firefighters, doctors, and other first responders. Still, I contribute in my own little way. And that makes me feel better.
Consider how you can serve others or contribute. Then take action. Do something that makes a difference—even a small one. You’ll immediately feel better.
4. Have faith.
You’ve probably heard the adage that God never gives you more than you can handle. Or maybe you’ve been told that the Universe has your back. No matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, it’s at times like these that you must muster up the faith that it will all turn out okay.
Trying to understand why any of these things are happening can feel futile. And, more often than not, hindsight is 20–20. At this moment, you may not find meaning in the events and experiences of your life.
But you can have faith that you will be okay. You can have faith that you will learn and grow through this year.
Indeed, if ever there was a time grow personally and spiritually, it’s this year. Not only will doing so help you in the present, but it will help you in the future.
If you get better at relationships, health, and business, you stand a better chance of making it through 2020 in good shape. Level up your courage, clarity, creativity, and contribution. Improve your productivity, influence, health, and ability to reduce stress.
Generally, do whatever you can to step into the best version of yourself. Invest in your personal and spiritual growth. This is how you set yourself up to win in any situation.
5. Give yourself on a timeout.
When the world around you gets to be too much, and you feel as if you are going to break, give yourself a timeout. Just like a little kid who has misbehaved, take yourself somewhere quiet, sit yourself down, and take some time to just be.
Turn off the television and the Internet. Put away your phone. Shut out all external inputs.
Then just sit.
You can meditate. Or you can think. Or you can do nothing at all.
Stay on your timeout until you feel calm and centered. Then you can return to your day.
Remember: We all need a timeout now and again. This is especially true when our lives or the world around us bring up strong emotions within us. Before you strike out, scream, or shout at someone you care about, take yourself to your timeout chair. Doing so is a gift to yourself and those you love, too.
6. Stick to the schedule.
When things seem crazy around you, a schedule provides stability and normality. For many, working from home has been challenging because their regular schedule got tossed to the wind.
Now, more than ever, schedules are necessary. Your kids need them. You need them. Everyone needs them.
Get out a calendar or planner, and block time for all the things you need to do. Give this schedule some regularity. For instance, always have dinner, get to your desk, do laundry, or work out at a specific time. Be enormously consistent.
When so much of life is uncertain, your schedule will give you certainty. Consistency of action goes a long way toward feeling safe and secure.
7. Feel gratitude.
I know 2020 has been tough…in so many ways. Maybe you got sick or had a loved one die of COVID-19. Possibly you lost your home in a fire. Perhaps you lost your job and haven’t been able to find a new one. Or your business didn’t survive the economic shutdown.
I bet you have at least a few things about which you could express gratitude. Feel grateful for your health and safety, the people who have helped or supported you, your unemployment or insurance check, the opportunity to start over, or your perseverance.
Gratitude is the strongest prayer you can say. And it’s an enormously powerful antidote to discouragement. Take a moment to make a list of all the things you can feel grateful for at this moment. Feel your emotional state change.
Prep for 2021 and Beyond
While 2020 will eventually come to an end, in all likelihood, 2021 require us to deal with the same issues, even if to a lesser degree. You must learn not to just deal with the situations presented but to succeed despite them.
Even better, like the highest performers in the world, find a way to thrive during adversity. That skill will serve you well no matter what life throws your way.
How do you reduce your 2020 fatigue and hopelessness? I’d love to know. Leave me a comment below, and please share this post with a friend.
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