For many of us we are facing inordinate amounts of stress and a rapid altering of the routines and expectations we know. Teachers are scrambling to create materials for students in a matter of days for weeks of home learning. Restaurants are shutting down to only operate under take-away options. Universities are moving all classes to online formats. Retail establishments are closed or only open for limited hours.
There are so many feelings associated with this exponentially changing new world that we live in. People may be feeling overwhelmed, excited, incompetent, motivated, nervous, unqualified, inspired, ill-equipped or very likely a combination of these feelings all at once.
During this time it is especially critical that we stay regulated and feed our mind, body and soul with things that promote connection, positivity and overall wellness. I have created a calendar for the next 6 weeks with one idea to do every day. I have expanded on some of the days below. I hope you enjoy it.
March 15th — An act of gratitude
Today, amidst the turmoil and chaos it is good to think and reflect on something you are thankful for. When we pause to focus on something positive, we are re-wiring our brain. Today I choose to be thankful for a slow day at home, where I don’t have any deadlines or expectations, and just get to be with the ones I love.
March 19th — Wish someone well
Wake up today and while you are getting ready, making your morning coffee, driving to work or eating breakfast, pause. Take a moment to think about someone in your life that you are grateful for and say it out loud. Maybe go the extra step and send them an email, text, or note or maybe call them and let them know.
March 20th — 4 Square breathing.
A while back I was working in a school and a student came up to me an wanted to share his favorite breathing strategy. It was called 4-square breathing. Below are the directions of this approximate 1 minute strategy.
Step 1- Breathe in for a count of 4 seconds
Step 2- Hold that breath for a count of 4 seconds
Step 3- Breath out for a count of 4 seconds
Step 4- Hold that breath out for a count of 4 seconds
Repeat this process 4 times.
March 21st — Positive message
You matter! You are awesome! I think you are UH-mazing! Whatever the phrase is we all can use a little positivity in our day. Make, draw, doodle, a positive message and leave it on someone’s car, their front porch or in their mailbox.
March 22nd — Eat some vegetables
Eating as many colorful veggies is a good step towards healthy eating. I strive to cut up veggies ahead of time for a quick stir-fry or steaming as well as eating raw. I find if I set veggies out (especially with some dip) they are more likely to get eaten.
March 23rd — Something homemade
I love to make stuff, even though I wouldn’t consider myself crafty. I like to make jam or sauces, bake treats, or put together meal kits. I also love to knit and color. Whatever your skills might be what could you do to be thoughtful and creative today?
March 26th — Counting your blessings
· Alexa device to play my dance parties
· Fresh fruit and vegetables
· Cozy quilt
· Technology to connect with people while we physically distance ourselves
· Kitchen to cook in
· Food to cook
· Clean running water
· Hot shower
I could keep going…. Think through all the things you have or get to do today or the people you interact with and think of them as a blessing.
March 29th — Tell a joke
My kids love jokes. They are constantly trying to tell me a new one they have made up or learned. Here are a few.
· Holmes and Watson go camping. They pitch their tent under the stars and go to bed. Somewhere in the middle of the night Holmes wakes Watson up and asks, “What do you see?” Watson replies, “I see millions of stars.” Holmes then asks, “What do you deduce from that?” Watson replies, “I deduce that if there are millions of starts there must be thousands of planets. If there are thousands of planets there are probable people on one of those planets looking up at the stars like we are.” Holmes replies, “Watson you idiot! It means someone stole our tent.”
· Why didn’t the skeleton cross the road? Because he had no guts.
March 30th — Share the road
Many months ago, I was in a car with my buddy Pete. On the long car ride we discussed many topics. One of the things I learned from him was a practice he does while driving. Instead of getting frustrated by traffic or the way people are driving he chooses to let people have the right of way and if they are particularly not being a good, conscientious driver, he wishes them well and gives them extra space. Now I don’t always do this, but when I find myself getting frustrated, I try to channel Pete and practice this simple act of grace. I find that when I do this practice my entire attitude shifts and I am calmer and a better driver.
March 31st — Card games
We love card games in our family. Some of our favorites are below.
April 1st — Forgive or show grace
There are times, as humans, we hold grudges or don’t want to give someone something they don’t deserve (grace). Today, is there someone you could forgive? Maybe it is not even possible to tell them you forgive them, but you can speak that forgiveness it out loud and from your heart.
If there is no forgiveness you can extend, then can you show someone grace? A few examples I have seen, experienced or enacted are below.
One day, shortly after my grandma had passed away, I was having a tough day with my grief. I had a rough night sleeping and had to get up early for a long drive for work. As I was driving, I wasn’t paying attention to my speed on the highway and was pulled over. I was totally speeding and deserved to be pulled over. When the patroller asked for my license, I realized that I had left my wallet in my coat at home. I think he could see that I was flustered. After I told him my license number and he ran that with my insurance he let me go with a warning and asked that I drive safer. I did. I went home and grabbed my wallet and then proceeded back to work. I totally deserved a ticket and yet was given grace.
A while back I did a marathon day of travel to get home. The next morning, I woke up early so I could get up to the mountain where my hubby and two youngest were skiing. I couldn’t wait to join them. As I was driving up the snow had already started in town and was accumulating quickly. On my way up I saw a car stuck in a ditch and a truck, to no avail, attempting to pull him out of the ditch, just to get stuck himself. I knew there was no way to get out of that ditch without good traction. I pulled over and began digging out a pathway with my shovel behind the tires. As soon as we pushed the vehicles and they hit good road they moved out of the way. Even though I really wanted to join my family, I pulled over that day to help. The 45minutes didn’t mean to much to me in the long run, but it made a difference for the young kid who was stuck in the snow.
April 2nd — Body Scan
This is a mindfulness activity from UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center. This activity takes about 3 minutes. You can extend the time if you like once you are familiar with the steps.
April 4th — Origami
My youngest loves making origami. Below are a few links to some of his favorites. All you need is paper. It can be fancy origami paper, construction paper, printer paper or just plain, lined school paper. Enjoy!
April 5th — Just laugh!
A good laugh heals a lot of hurts. — Madeleine L’Engle
Laughter is a contagious connection we can have with another human being. When we just “fake” laugh it releases the good hormones that fight stress. I think it is more enjoyable to laugh for real. I have a few videos that are sure to get you laughing and dumping endorphins into your system to counteract cortisol.
April 8th — Learn something new
Growth mindset doesn’t just apply to kids. It is good for adults to challenge their brain and try something new. Maybe today is the day you learn a new recipe, song, skill, craft, sport or try something out of your comfort zone. Today I am going to experiment in my kitchen. We will see how it goes. Today, be bold, inquisitive, adventurous, and enthusiastic.
April 9th — Send them love
I can’t take credit for this lovely little exercise that combines breathing and gratitude. Thanks GapKids for this little act of mindfulness.
April 15th — Apologize
Did you mess up today, yesterday or 2 years ago? It is never too late to make a repair for a mistake that you have initiated.
April 16th — Take a walk
My favorite walks are within my neighborhood. I love hiking but I wouldn’t trade a trip around my neighborhood for anything. Where do you like to walk?
April 18th — Rainbow in the clouds
Be calm, centered and peaceful as you watch this video, Try to Be a Rainbow in Somebody Else's Cloud.
April 21st — Mindful minute
A mindful minute is something that we can do anywhere we are, standing in a line, eating in a restaurant, commuting on transit, lying in bed, or sitting in a chair. A mindful minute is performed by getting into a comfortable position, closing your eyes or focusing on an object and then for one minute just noticing the things that you notice. Maybe you notice sounds around you that you didn’t notice before, or you feel the chair you are sitting in or you feel the sun on your face, or possible notice the change of your breathing. The more often we complete this practice the more things we are likely to notice.
April 26th — Fort night
If you live with kids making a fort is a great way to spend an afternoon. Building a fort just for yourself can also be satisfying. A fort can be a fun nook for yourself to read, draw, color, nap or any other pastime. Check out these adult forts from BuzzFeed
April 28th — Dance part
I love a good dance party, even by myself. Here is a link to some of my favorite songs for dancing around.