Submitted by Lisa Baggett, Community Engagement Coordinator

Do you remember the Seinfeld episode where George’s father, Frank Costanza, tries to keep his cool by yelling “Serenity now! Serenity now!”? The coronavirus pandemic us all searching for serenity in our daily routine.  

Each of us has experienced some sort of loss during the past year and a half and while it’s important to recognize and grieve each loss, it’s also important to adjust our perspective and reframe our expectations. Nobody could have predicted that the pandemic would still be here in late 2021. People who have experienced traumatic events say that it was their faith and discipline that helped them survive. 

Emotional self-care is a discipline. Know when to say no. Paulo Coelho said, “When you say “yes” to others, make sure you are not saying “no” to yourself.” In our society, we tend to feel guilty when we say no. Being helpful and selfless can bring one joy so long as we are not pouring from an empty cup.  

Saying no is an art form and here are two great quotes that one should have on repeat. “Learn the art of saying no. Don’t lie, don’t make excuses, don’t overexplain yourself. Just simply decline” and “NO is a complete sentence. It does not require satisfaction or explanation.” 

Avoiding toxic people and chronic complainers is essential to preserving a healthy emotional state. Limit your interactions with those who drain your energy. Cut them out of your life if you can. Limit your exposure to the news. It’s important to stay informed but don’t immerse yourself by having the news on as background noise all day.  

Boosting endorphins that positively affect your emotional health starts with exercising your brain by reading, doing crossword or Sudoku puzzles. Spend more time doing activities or hobbies that you enjoy: hiking, photography, knitting, painting, meditate, etc. The more time you spend doing something pleasurable, the better for your mental health.  

And just like Frank Costanza, practicing serenity in challenging times is essential but maybe quietly reciting the Serenity prayer instead of yelling is a better approach: ”God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”