13 Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities

Occasionally, I write about coping strategies for living with chronic illness. Last summer, for example, I created a post with little life hacks that help me deal with Crohn’s disease. Just now, I’m aware that in the coming weeks, we may need gentle reminders to trust and persevere as we navigate new terrain. I hope to keep you company and offer tenderness. So in the throes of the unfolding crisis, I offer these 13 Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities.

Cactus flowers in bloom in sherbet tones in Tuscon, Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

13 Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities

No matter where this finds you, I want you to know I’m with you, and you are not on the journey alone. The last couple of weeks have brought a few mood swings for this blogger. An optimistic adrenaline surge will arrive one moment before fatigue or a sense of dread the next.

Door to a primitive structure at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.
Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities

I suppose it all belongs. With the stress and knowledge of suffering around the globe, tears and despair may come. Moments of numbness arrive too. But there are seeds of hope everywhere. I intend to plant a fair share.

Celestial sky in Arizona by Hello Lovely Studio.

More than anything these days, my desire is to stay open humbly. To bring fragrance, beauty, and healing if possible.

Flowering cactus in Tuscon, Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.
Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities

My attempts are sure to be imperfect and awkward (it’s a spiritual gift!). No idea really what this openness will look like, but I’m leaning into the divine mystery holding us all.

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1. Shift Into Gratitude

Seeing your blessings in a difficult season can be a challenge. The global pandemic and disruption to the economy affects every single one of us. If you are feeling fear or sadness or confusion, you are in good company.

Magnificent palm in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

2. Shift Into Heartfulness

But something profound happens when we place our attention in our hearts. When we turn away from fearful chatter in our heads and distressing statistics to the still, quiet, place where we meet spirit.

Arizona sunset - Hello Lovely studio.

Go there to see the beauty of what remains unchanged and pure, of that which can never be lost, of those treasures that matter most in life.

Arizona sky - Hello Lovely Studio

3. Seek the Grace for What You Desire

Though it may be tempting to simply create distractions, I encourage you to take time to go deeper in your heart at this time of great disorder and uncertainty.

Trees in the yard - Hello Lovely Studio.
Hello Lovely Studio…the trees in our yard are certainly lovely indeed.

It’s there you’ll discover blessing. And it’s there you can seek the grace you need to see more clearly.

Cactus flowers in bloom with juicy sherbet color in Tuscon, Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

For when your lens focuses upon things for which you are grateful (the robin in a tree outside? the smell of oranges? the music of Bach?), your inner landscape changes.

Flowering trees and fruit in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

While our circumstances may remain the same or worsen, our perspective can keep us centered in love and gratitude.

Midway sprite in garden at Arizona Biltmore - Hello Lovely Studio.
Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities

4. Cognitively Reframe

One small pivot. What a difference it makes to shift my thinking from “So many shelves are bare at the grocery store that it’s depressing” to “What a blessing there is still food available and that it will be enough.”

Arizona cactus - Hello Lovely Studio

The challenge to shift into gratitude. How can we make small shifts–rejecting curses and seeing blessing–even when we just aren’t feeling it or suffer from fatigue?

Arizona landscape with creek - Hello Lovely Studio.

I wish there were an easy answer. It’s tricky when you’re overloaded by stress.

But a couple of things occur to me.

Arizona landscape and stormy skis - Hello Lovely Studio.

5. Reexamine Your True Identity

You are not your feelings. Don’t push any feeling away or judge yourself for feeling so intensely. Feeling happy is not really even the goal or the gift.

Tucson, Arizona landscape and cactus - Hello Lovely Studio.
Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities

The gift is actually our ability to feel at all. To be fully human is to feel ALL the feelings. So be extra gentle as you let go of shame for having the sacred gift of feelings. You’re so good. You really are.

Tuscon, Arizona landscape - Hello Lovely Studio.

6. Acknowledge Your Strength

You can endure more than you think. We humans are strong and resilient, and we can feel the depth of grief or fear AND STILL MOVE FORWARD THROUGH THEM.

Pond in the Arizona desert - Hello Lovely Studio.

We can dance with broken bones. Or leap while being scared to death. We can give our brave YES even before we feel ready.

Orange trees at Arizona Biltmore Hotel - Hello Lovely Studio.

7. Trust What is Trustworthy

Stay open to wonder and mystery. When despair comes, and it’s a struggle for me to recover gratitude, I pray. Often, these prayers are wordless and more of a surrendered posture. This posture and spiritual practice never fails to help.

Arizona landscape - Hello Lovely Studio.

8. Dare to Be Unguarded

Be willing to be vulnerable. When the cynical “life is just too hard” becomes the vulnerable “life is such an adventure teaching me wildly important lessons,” it isn’t just an attitude adjustment or mind trick. I think Providence moves too.

Periwinkle blue sky and yellow leaves in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

With a less defended posture, we become these vessels for new sources of blessing and help.

We’re suddenly more permeable to receive it.

Grey Arizona skies - Hello Lovely Studio.

9. See the Soul’s Harmony With the Body

Decide to be more intentional about self-care. This is a shift that may begin in the soul, but it has important implications for your health.

Summer pasta salad with tomatoes and peas - Hello Lovely Studio.

For me, personally, it’s important that I be disciplined about diet and digestion issues to stay healthy. The thing is, what I have learned over the last two years may actually help all of us during this global pandemic.

Summer vegetable saute - Hello Lovely Studio.

It is rather remarkable that most of us are not mindful about little habits that may harm us. Simple things like chewing to liquid, eating more slowly, and eating while relaxed aid in better digestion.

Ann Voskamp quote about peace in uncertainty on Hello Lovely Studio. #quotes #faith #Christianity #peacequote #annvoskamp

Hence, it’s not a good idea to watch the news (with all the trauma and tragedy broadcasting dramatically) at meal times.

Summer pasta salad with fresh tomatoes and peas - Hello Lovely Studio.

Better digestion can mean less cramping, indigestion, belly pain. And don’t forget the importance of digestion and mindful eating to the immune response. Why not give ourselves every chance to fight off infection and disease?

Colorful fruits and vegetables from the Farmer's market - Hello Lovely Studio. #farmersmaket

10. Nurture Your Spirit

Carve out spaces in your daily routine for spiritual practice. There are so many beautiful possibilities for quieting the mind, opening the heart, and saying HELLO LOVELY to Presence!

Ann Voskamp quote about peace in uncertainty on Hello Lovely Studio. #quotes #faith #Christianity #peacequote #annvoskamp

If you care to learn about a few of my favorites, see THIS. Devotions, centering prayer/meditation, sweeping, and playing piano are practices built into my day to commune with God.

Arizona sunset - Hello Lovely Studio.

Walking your prayers. You may be tempted to nap more than usual if you are sheltered in place. If you are prone to emotional eating, perhaps, you’ll be tempted to overeat.

Anne Lamott quote about prayer on Hello Lovely Studio. #quotes #faithquote #christianity #prayer #annelamott

So make it a priority to move your body as a gift to your spirit. Runner’s high is apparently a thing. I wouldn’t know! But I can tell you walking has brought me more joy and clarity than I can say.

Arizona sunset and Annie Dillard quote - by Hello Lovely Studio.

11. Partner With Nature

Let nature sing to you. Qurantines, sheltering in place, and social distancing probably mean you are spending more time indoors. But let’s all encourage each other to enjoy nature in fresh ways.

Anne Lamott quote about courage on Hello Lovely Studio. #quotes #faithquote #gcouragequote #annelamott

Let’s allow the velvety night sky and its shimmering stars to bring comfort and healing. No matter how our circumstances change, let’s go to the silvery magic of moonlight and be awed by cosmic majesty.

Michele of Hello Lovely Studio. Photo: Melissa James Studio.

12. Consider Paradoxes Soulfully

Can suffering become a path to deeper wisdom and love? As long as we keep thinking dualistically in terms of joy and sorrow or right and wrong, we cannot be free to see how these great life mysteries all belong.

Arizona sunset - Hello Lovely Studio.

Letting go and becoming an “I really don’t know it all” may feel like giving up control at a time when you desperately want to feel a measure of it.

Exterior of our woodsy Nordic French style cottage - Hello Lovely Studio.

Yet now is the time to embrace GRACE and KINDNESS and MERCY and CREATIVITY and COURAGE. Moving out of our headspace and into our hearts allows those virtues to blossom in the soul.

River rock on the exterior of our cottage - Hello Lovely Studio. 7 Little Life Hacks for Coping With Chronic Illness...in case you need a bit of encouragement.

13. Let Kindness Flood Your Soul

Relentless self-kindness will serve everyone. Putting this into practice is so much more challenging than stringing together these words.

Bench in French courtyard with pea gravel - Hello Lovely Studio. 7 Little Life Hacks for Coping With Chronic Illness...in case you need a bit of encouragement.

Only you truly know what such kindness looks like. You alone know the challenges of your new normal, the disruption, the threats, the stress, the isolation, and the worries.

Quote about love conquering fear by Richard Rohr on Hello Lovely Studio. #quotes #richardrohr #lovequote #faithquote #christianity #spirituality

So become your best friend. Be gentle and kind with her. Don’t shame her for being human.

Pink flowers and stone wall in our French courtyard - Hello Lovely Studio.

Thanks for reading these stream-of-consciousness thoughts. If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please do share it on Facebook or pin it to Pinterest. đŸ™‚

Peace to you right where you are.

-michele

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4 Comments

  1. Amy
    March 23, 2020 / 1:53 pm

    Thanks, Michele. Saying YES & AMEN to everything you said and shared! This is a very unusual, possibly one in a lifetime, experience and we can be sure God is @ work thru it all to accomplish His purposes which are good, acceptable, & perfect. Praying for all of us as we seek Him and navigate thru this time.

    • Michele
      Author
      March 23, 2020 / 2:01 pm

      Beautiful words from you, Amy, that resonate with wisdom. Thank you for the prayer and for directing our gaze toward faith. Thinking of you and yours and sending tender mercies. xox

  2. March 23, 2020 / 8:05 pm

    Michele, I could use any one of these pictures along with your contemplative words to meditate on. Seriously, when are you going to write a book?

    xoxoxo

    • Michele
      Author
      March 23, 2020 / 9:44 pm

      That is humbling and so wonderful to hear, Leslie. A book – yes – it would mean getting disciplined and having a messy house and possibly alienating family members – and becoming super insecure – but yeahhhhh, maybe it’s a good time. Can’t wait to read your post – saving as a delicious morsel for tomorrow. Thank you for visiting here and cheering me on. xox

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