13 Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities

Occasionally, I write about coping strategies for living with chronic illness. For example, a few seasons ago, I penned little life hacks that help me deal with Crohn’s disease. While losses from the pandemic may be easing and transitions to pre-pandemic normalcy seem to be appearing, surely there are still deep needs everywhere. Gentle reminders to trust, ideas to cope and encouragement to persevere are what I feel compelled to offer even now. So as we navigate new realities, I offer these 13 Soulful Shifts to Cope.

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 right here. With you. And you are not on the journey alone. When I posted these ideas a year ago, I had no idea what heartache was in store for me and our family.

13 Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities & Beyond - spiritual and contemplative themed thoughts and ideas from Hello Lovely Studio. #contemplative #coping #spirituality
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The virus took one of our own , we suffered through physical and emotional sickness, and we now deal with post-viral issues (fatigue, memory loss, loss of taste, and scent disorders) which affect our mood and outlook.

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

As I grow older, it feels like indeed suffering belongs and is somehow purposeful to cosmic and eternal purposes. Tears and despair come; moments of numbness arrive too. Yet seeds of hope are scattered everywhere. I look for them and intend to plant my fair share.

Celestial sky in Arizona by Hello Lovely Studio.
Better Cope With Pandemic Realities & Beyond…in case you are struggling

At so many junctures these days, I’m not sure about what the next right thing to do is. Are you always sure? So I don’t lean on my own understanding. I pray for discernment and try to remain humbly open. Try to keep allowing reality to be reality and change what I can change. Which is me. In my best moments, the desire blooms to become the fragrance, beauty, and very healing I seek.

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

My attempts to bring blessing are always imperfect and awkward attempts (apparently it’s a spiritual gift!). But the imperfection can be recycled for good when it is offered to Infinite Goodness. What Divine Mystery and Love are at work in such matters!.

Inspirational quote about courage on Hello Lovely Studio. #inspirationalquote #quotes #couragequotes #encouragementquote
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1. Shift Into Gratitude

Counting blessings in a difficult season can be a challenge. A global pandemic and chaotic disruption to all aspects of modern life affect the entire planet. If you continue to feel fear, sadness or confusion, even after many months of the chaos, you are in good company. How does one access gratitude during suffering or despair?

Magnificent palm in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.
Soulful Shifts to Better Cope With Pandemic Realities as well as spiritual practices to integrate into daily life

2. Shift Into Heartfulness

Something profound happens when we go beyond our thoughts. When we place our awareness in our hearts and return to the breath. Indeed we are built with the capacity to turn away from fearful chatter and distressing news and go to the silence. To the still, quiet, spaciousness where we meet spirit.

Arizona sunset - Hello Lovely studio.

Within the spaciousness, we may slowly begin to sense the beauty of what remains unchanged and pure. With practice and desire, we may come to see that which can never be lost and those treasures which matter most.

Arizona sky - Hello Lovely Studio

3. Seek the Grace for What You Desire

Though it is often tempting during stressful seasons to create distractions, shut down, or repress, I encourage you to be courageous. Take time to feel the pains that disturb you all the way through. The pattern for me personally goes something like this: I fall to my knees and confess I am at the end of my resources and in desperation. I surrender all of it and ask for help. And I request desire, strength, and will to do the next wise thing. Sometimes, desire eludes us, but that void need not paralyze us. For we can always SEEK GRACE to identify our core desire. We can always go deeper into our hearts during times of great disorder or uncertainty.

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

It’s there where we uncover and discover blessing. And it’s there we can purely receive grace to help us see more clearly what matters.

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

Sometimes grace comes as a change of mind. And sometimes it is fresh vision to see from a spirit of gratitude. It’s a powerful shift yet may arrive rather gently. (The robin building her nest outside the window? The lovely fragrance of an orange? The notes from a piece by Bach?). Make no mistake…the inner landscape can transform.

Flowering trees and fruit in Arizona - Hello Lovely Studio.

While circumstances may remain unchanged or worsen, a fresh set of spiritual eyes can do the impossible. Can bring forth miracles. And can center us 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 made a year ago when the national emergency was new, to shift my thinking from “So many shelves at the grocery store are bare as things grow more depressing” to “What a blessing there is still so much food available and that it will be enough.”

Arizona cactus - Hello Lovely Studio

The ongoing challenge to shift into gratitude during unsavory chapters. How can we make small shifts–to reject curses and see blessing–even when we simply aren’t feeling it or suffer from fatigue, cynicism or rage?

Arizona landscape with creek - Hello Lovely Studio.

I wish there were easy answers. As tensions mount, how can we find balance?

Arizona landscape and stormy skis - Hello Lovely Studio.

5. Identify Your True Identity

You are not your feelings. Or even your thoughts. Don’t push away any feeling or judge yourself for feeling so deeply. Everything is fleeting. Happy feelings are 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 the wondrous miracle to feel at all. To be alive in this moment, fully human, is to feel ALL the feelings. So be extra gentle with yourself as you remember your precious, fragile humanity. Surrender any shame for feeling 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. Humans are strong and resilient. In so many cases, we can feel the depth of grief or fear AND STILL MOVE FORWARD THROUGH THOSE EMOTIONS.

Pond in the Arizona desert - Hello Lovely Studio.

We can dance with broken bones. Or leap while being scared to death. We can offer 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 look more like a surrendered posture. This posture and spiritual practice is always fruitful.

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 an adventure right now, stretching me, teaching me wildly important lessons,” it isn’t just an attitude tweak or mind game. When an opening occurs in our being, the atmosphere changes too. Providence just may move.

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

With a less defended posture, we become more teachable. We become more permeable as vessels for new sources of blessing and unexpected help.

Grey Arizona skies - Hello Lovely Studio.

9. See the Soul’s Harmony With the Body

Decide to be more intentional about self-care. While this shift may begin in the soul, it has important implications for the body.

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

For me, personally, discipline for diet and digestive issues are a matter of survival. In fact, what I have learned in the last three years may actually benefit anyone striving to stay healthy during a pandemic.

Summer vegetable saute - Hello Lovely Studio.

Remarkably, most of us are not mindful about little harmful habits. Simple practices such as chewing to liquid, eating very slowly, and eating only while relaxed may aid healthy 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 its trauma and tragedy broadcasting dramatically) at meal times.

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

Better digestion for me means less cramping, less indigestion, and less belly pain. And don’t forget the relationship of digestion 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 that nurture my friendship with God.

Arizona sunset - Hello Lovely Studio.

Walking your prayers. You may be tempted to nap more than usual when you feel down. If you are prone to emotional eating, perhaps, you’ll be tempted to overeat. We all have our weak spots.

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

Make it a priority to move your body in self-kindness; as a gift to your spirit. Runner’s high is apparently a thing…I wouldn’t know! But I CAN say walking has brought 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. Depression, anxiety, quarantine, sheltering in place, and social distancing may spell more time indoors for you. Yet nature’s remedy awaits. Explore it with reverence and fresh eyes.

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

Even gazing at a velvety night sky with its shimmering stars may bring mysterious comfort and healing. No matter how circumstances change, we can be awed by silvery moonlight and reconnect with our cosmic origin.

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 mysteries belong.

Arizona sunset - Hello Lovely Studio.

Letting go and becoming an “I don’t know it all” may feel like relinquishing control at a time you desperately crave a measure of it.

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

Yet that is the time, now is the time, to open those close fists. To let go of control in order to accept MERCY, STRENGTH, GRACE, CREATIVITY and COURAGE. A good pruning and letting go will create more space for 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. So many folks confuse self-indulgence or self-absorption with self-kindness.

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.

It takes excavation work and greater self-awareness to learn self-kindness. While you can reach for help, only you can do this work. While relationship is always required (with nature, with God, with others, with your shadow side), your YES and consent to do the work are essential.

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

So become your best friend. Talk to you with love. Be gentle and kind with you. Don’t shame you for being human.

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

Thanks for reading these stream-of-consciousness ideas. If you know someone who could benefit from them, please do share this post to Facebook or pin it to Pinterest. 🙂

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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White Slipcovered Sofa
French Country Kubu Basket Set
Whitewashed Table Lamp Set of 2
Antique Chinese Wood Rustic Round Stool
French Country Bed
Tuscan Terracotta Urn Vase
Round Farmhouse Table
French Country Settee
Deconstructed Wingback Bed
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Milagro Heart
Upholstered Dining Chair
Rustic Farmhouse Stool
Edgecombe End Table
Silver Rectangle Accent Table
Black or Bronze Accent Table
30″ French Storage Basket
Chevron White Quilt Set
French Country Rattan Basket Set
Marble Subway Mosaic Tile (My Backsplash)
French Wire Laundry Basket
White Ruffle Bedding
White Linen Club Chair
Schumacher Wild Things Wallpaper
Wide Pine Sideboard
Linen Napkin Set
French Country Lamp
French Country Wall Mirror
French Lidded Baskets
Shaw Daybed
Distressed White French Country Chandelier
Distressed White Artichoke Lamp
French Country Headboard
Oval Back Counter Stool, Set of 2
Antique Brass Pharmacy Floor Lamp
Round French Tufted Ottoman
Kinston Wood Bench
Italian Candelabra Chandelier
Colleen Slope Arm Linen Chair Set
Warner Upholstered Bench
Rustic Country French Dresser
Rustic French Confit Pot
Round Farmhouse Dining Table
Reclaimed Wood Dresser
Louis Upholstered Bench
Pardon My French Doormat
Stripe Turkish Towel Throw
Pamela Arm Chair
Sweater Weave Basket
French Carved Wood Chandelier
Terracotta Pots & Basket
French Country Wood Chandelier
French Linen Dining Chair
Gustavian Cabinet
French Farmhouse Dining Table
Bar Stool
Beachy White Slipcovered Sofa
Rattan Armchair
Diptyque Oyedo Candle
Cross Back Dining Chair
French Country Candle Holder
French Industrial Metal Chairs (4)
Designer Favorite Wall Mirror
Holborn Lantern Pendant
French Country 6-Light Chandelier
Rustic End Table
French Country Upholstered Arm Chair
Wicker Trunk Set
French Ticking Stripe Pillow
Jute Area Rug
Mohair Throw
Rustic Industrial Farmhouse Shelves
Belgian Linen Sofa
White Duvet & Bedding
Rustic Wood Candlestick Set
French Market Basket
Linen Modern Wing Chair
French Country Farmhouse Baskets
Concrete Pillar Table Lamp
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Style Lamp
Kendall Skirted Dining Chair
White Charleston Sofa
Scrubbed Wood 5-Light Chandelier
Arched Champagne Wall Mirror
Moravian Star 1-Light Pendant
Highback Armchair
Mini Pendant Light
White Vase Set
Round Woven Placemat Set
Cashmere Throw With Fringe
Black Bergamot Soy Candle
Fireclay Farm Sink (Reinhard, 30″)
White Waffle Coverlet
Light Grey Vienna Quilt
Boheme Madera Bench
Belgian Linen Duvet Set
Round Marble Side Table
Rustic Pedestal Farm Table
Rattan Hanging Chair Swing