What we’re experiencing right now is unprecedented.

Yes, there have been virulent pandemics before. Yes, there have been blackouts and lockdowns. But never before have we been forced into our homes with easy access to every possible piece of panic-inducing news from around the world. So if you’re anxious, you’re not alone.

If you’ve lost your job, if you’re preparing to bring a child into an upended world, if you’re stuck inside with a negative person, you’re not alone, either. Futures are uncertain; times are strange. This is fertile ground for fear to grow in.

And fear changes the way we see and experience life. Through this lens, the world becomes a harsh, unfriendly, and dangerous place, instead of a place in which both negative and positive exist, where joy and peace are possible even in the midst of chaos and confusion. Fear limits our thinking and blocks us from experiencing what’s good and beautiful about being alive.

When we are afraid or distraught, we tend to indulge in things that offer fleeting gratification: TV, alcohol, junk food, social media, anything that will distract us from our thoughts. We turn to these distractions even though we know they will probably, ultimately, make us feel worse. We have to be intentional and mindful about choosing practices that will make us feel better in a lasting, sustainable manner. 

A brownie might make you feel good for five minutes, but a consistent intake of fruit and vegetables is proven to make you feel and look good over the long term. A scroll through social media might take your mind off your fear for half an hour, or even hours, but using that time to read or pray will pay continuous dividends into the account you draw your energy and perspective from. Watching TV might offer relief for a night, but cultivating a new habit -- an instrument, a language, a craft -- will broaden your repertoire and mind for the rest of your days. It’s okay to indulge occasionally, but the larger point here is that we are responsible for cultivating our own personal wellbeing. 

Studies show that stress is a force with enough power to subtract years from our lives. It also makes our skin more prone to breakouts and the hallmarks of aging -- wrinkles, dark circles, loss of elasticity. Stress is not a circumstance; it’s a response. We can’t control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it. 

What are the practices that reduce the stress in your body? What transforms your anxious energy? You have unique interests and passions and capabilities, so only you will know what works for you. If you don’t know, pay attention to moments of calm; write down what you’re doing, thinking, and feeling when you experience them, and use these notes to help you integrate more of these moments into your routine. Do you experience peace when you’re playing your guitar? When you’re knitting? Reading? Writing? Having substantive conversations with friends? Taking a bath? Trying new recipes? Coloring? Doing yoga? Painting? Gardening? 

Your skin, your body, your mind, and your spirit will thank you for choosing and committing to practices that enrich your physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Commitment and consistency produce results. That’s true of a skincare routine; it’s also true of maintaining peace and positivity in this time, and in all others. 

We want to hear from you. What are you doing to prioritize your wellbeing as you shelter in place?

Written by Allyson Welch

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