Written By Kali Pappas, Nutritionist and Blogger at Holistic Chick
That is the million dollar question: how do I achieve a meaningful life? And now that we’re experiencing a global pandemic, this question is more important than ever.
In the blink of an eye, the world turned upside down for many of us. This deadly virus has caused global uproar in our economy and health system. Each and every one of us has been impacted by it, whether that be losing a job, to a family member or friend, or being forced to move. It is no wonder mental health problems like anxiety, depression and even suicide have skyrocketed.
I’m here to tell you that things are going to be okay in the end, and there are ways to combat problems that come your way. Whether you’re battling with your own mental health or simply trying to find meaning in your life again, there is hope and new research that may help you find the answers you’re looking for.
New research suggests a sense of "mattering" may matter more than other factors. The sense of a meaningful life is correlated with more positive behaviours such as increased exercise, healthy diet and lower incidence of depression. Whereas those who experience a less meaningful life have been associated with common indicators like increased stress, anxiety, depression and even suicidal thoughts. These results suggest that finding more meaning to life may help improve your overall mental and physical health.
We all want to matter to someone or something, whether that’s our partner or in the workplace for example, however these things can take time and patience. It’s important to understand what “mattering” is actually defined as, so you can fully understand how to achieve and incorporate this into your life:
MatteringRefers to the experiences of value and worth that transcend superficial passing situations and events. Mattering means feeling that one’s behaviors make a difference and that life is worth living. More importantly, mattering refers to a person’s feeling that they matter.
The first thing to remember is that these factors vary from person to person, therefore I may find meaning in things that you may not, and that’s okay. We are all unique in our own ways and it’s important to stay true to yourself and never compare. Comparing yourself puts focus on the wrong person and wastes precious energy you can use towards meeting your goals and finding happiness.
Now we know that having a purpose in life is important. It gives us a sense of meaning which is correlated with improved mental health, physical health and stability. However, sudden events like covid-19 can dramatically shift your life off-track and take a toll on your mental wellbeing. Realizing that everything can change in the blink of an eye can be a hard pill to swallow, especially if you have been personally affected by the harsh realities of this virus.
One thing we can be certain about is how this crisis is harming our mental health. Many people across the globe are being affected, The Washington Post reported that the coronavirus pandemic is pushing America into a mental health crisis. Warning the country of verging into another health crisis with the daily doses of death, isolation and fear generating widespread psychological trauma. Federal agencies and experts stated a historic wave of mental-health problems is fast approaching: depression, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder and even suicide.
I think what’s keeping us up at night is the uncertainty and the media which is instilling a huge fear of this virus. A strong immunity is what will help protect us against this virus among other factors. Unfortunately things that cause stress in our body (such as living in fear) can damage and lower our immune system in addition to being isolated inside away from the natural sunlight that provides us with precious vitamin D that is crucial to our health. We are being affected in our day-to-day life by physical distancing and isolation protocols, yet it is during the most stressful times like this that people require extra support and human connection.
The fear that has been created around this pandemic has certainly taken a toll on our mental wellbeing. In fact, a recent report from the CDC found that a significant number of people are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, this study suggests that 11% of US adults considered suicide at one point during this pandemic. Experts noted that people who struggle with greater stress levels and fewer social interactions may view suicide as a way to seek relief from the pain they're experiencing.
Fortunately there are ways to bring more meaning to your life and improve your mental health. Psychologist and Professor, Kathryn Gordon from Psychology Today recommends practicing these strategies to help you cope with any mental health challenges:
4 ways to cope with your mental health
Soothe emotional pain with self-compassion and uplifting activities
Remind yourself that it is not your fault that you are in this situation. You are not a failure for finding life hard right now. Try to focus on what you can control and let go of any guilt for what you can't control. Whether you're feeling stressed, anxious, or sad, know that you are not alone in this.
Try to treat yourself with kindness as you navigate pandemic-related challenges. Taking time for fun activities can help to soothe pain as well. Try stepping outside, going for a walk, watching a funny TV show, playing a game, creating art, listening to music, or any other kind of activity that feels good to you. When you're in pain, it can be hard to push yourself to do fun activities. It's worth trying, because it often provides moments of relief.
Look for hope
The human mind naturally pays more attention to dangerous signs than positive signs during times like these. With effort, you can increase attention toward realistic sources of hope. If you look out into the world, you can find people acting with kindness and helping others. People are working on solutions to support communities and reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Finding hope in those stories can give you reasons to hold on for a better future.
Connect with people
Prioritize video chats, phone calls, or physically-distanced activities with friends, family, or co-workers. If you live with other people, spend time together that’s focused on talking and interacting rather than just sharing space (though having your own space at times can be important, too). Ask people you trust to check in on you and let them know that you need emotional support. Tell them what would be most helpful to you. Feeling heard, sharing stories, and receiving words of encouragement can boost your mood.
Contribute and find meaning
Think about how you're helping others right now. Have you reached out to a friend to see how they're doing? Are you taking care of yourself, your family, or others? Give yourself credit without comparing yourself to other people. Try to find some points of meaning in this stressful situation. Have any of your relationships strengthened? Have you learned anything new about yourself? Are you more grateful for what you have? Finding meaning in suffering can be quite challenging, but it's worth trying. A sense of purpose can carry you through hard times.
“Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end. ”
Focus on yourself and finding what matters to you. What is your passion? What makes you happy and fulfilled? Now bring that into your reality. Manifestation can really help achieve this with patience and trust. There is no rule book of life, some people don’t become what their version of successful or happy is until old age. Do what makes you happy, not what you think will make other people happy. Work hard and you will be led to the right path. There is no better time than the present to get started on building the life you’ve always wanted no matter what life throws at you.
Rhys, your words were so inspirational, moving and right on point. Thank you for sharing your posting/blog. I will be sharing with friends who I feel this will be helpful in their daily lives and bring them some light at the end of their tunnel as well. Peace and love be always with you.