Like many of you, I've had a lot of time to think over the past month. One of the things I've been thinking about most are the personal traits that will enable people to get through the quarantine and coronavirus pandemic and come out the other end in the same or better shape.
Right now, my working hypothesis is that the three most important personal characteristics are mental flexibility, resilience, and intelligence.
I want to talk a little bit about how to be resilient in this letter.
I've seen a lot of articles and advice over the past month suggesting that people maintain the same schedule they had before the pandemic.
This makes no sense at all to me. Why would you maintain the same schedule when everything has changed? Why would you stay up at night watching Netflix, only to get up at the same time you always do, thus sacrificing valuable sleep?
My advice to you? Don't keep the same schedule. Unless you have no choice, sleep in. Or go to bed earlier. Sleep a lot. Get as much sleep as you can, and don’t feel guilty about it.
Sleep is important for physical and mental health, maybe the most important thing for both, and most of us don’t get nearly enough quality sleep during “normal times.”
Now is the time to make up for our lack of sleep.
Everybody knows that exercise is good for you, physically. Not as many people know that exercise is equally good for you, mentally.
Long ago, I stopped going to gyms for exercise. I started exercising at home, primarily yoga and body-weight-type exercise, plus lots of sprints and hikes outdoors.
A lot of people really like working out in fitness classes or at gyms, and I understand that. There's a sense of camaraderie and teamwork that helps motivate you to work harder.
We don't have that now. Don't use that as an excuse not to exercise! You have plenty of time to exercise, so no excuses!
Long hikes, body-weight exercises like pushups, squats, pull-ups, yoga, or just lifting heavy things outdoors can be great forms of exercise.
3. Learn something new
I spent the past month studying math (particularly calculus), gardening, jiujitsu, and firearms. I knew a little bit about math because I have an engineering background, but I had forgotten most of what I knew. I knew next-to-nothing about firearms, jiujitsu, or gardening before the quarantine.
The amount of free instructional information available on the Internet is unbelievable. You can teach yourself calculus, tomato growing, Muay Thai kickboxing, or the Mandarin language sitting in your living room for a couple hours a day. You can get every single lecture at MIT available, for free, in your home. You can learn physics from Nobel Prize winners and cooking from Gordon Ramsay.
Take advantage of this opportunity to learn something new. Doesn't matter what you learn, just as long as it's something new to you.
Bonus: Studying something unfamiliar also tends to put your mind in a flow state, which has the added benefit of making time move faster.
When all we have to do right now is sit around our homes, making time move faster is worth it by itself!
4. Meditate or pray
Most of you know I've been a long-time meditator, and I recommend meditation for every human being in the world. In fact, I think the world would be a far better place if everybody had a regular meditation practice.
People confuse meditation with some sort of woo-hoo spirituality. That's not what it is. Meditation is also not about stopping your thoughts. Once you start meditating, one of the first things you realize is it's impossible to stop your thoughts, and the more you try, the harder it gets.
Prayer is a form of meditation. You can use prayer to meditate, or you can meditate in a non-religious way.
Either way, it's crucial during difficult times to have some sort of spiritual and mental practice to keep your mind and spirit in good shape.
Bonus: I've tried a number of different meditation apps, and I've found the one I think is the best. It's called Waking Up. It's great.
If you e-mail me at Brian@VBAttorneys.com with a request to try out the Waking Up app, I'll send you a link for a free month of the app.
5. Eat good food, drink good drinks, and watch good movies
Taking care of yourself during the pandemic doesn't have to be all about discipline and focus or productivity and progress.