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NEW ORLEANS – There’s laughter to be found with all the coronavirus-inspired memes on Facebook and parody songs playing out on YouTube. But at some point the emotional roller coaster created by COVID-19 takes a dip, and when anxiety rears its ugly head, it’s helpful to have an arsenal of mental tools ready to keep you sane.

Steve Siebold is an expert in critical thinking and the author of the international bestseller, “177 Mental Toughness Secrets of The World Class.” He’s offering tips for keeping sane during the crazy times we are experiencing now. WGNO’s Stephanie Oswald applied some of his advice to activities anyone can do at home and she offers suggestions to integrate mental toughness into your daily life.

This is part one of a series, with more to come in the days ahead.

Photos can bring smiles.


Number 1: Steve’s tip: Avoid becoming emotionally overwhelmed by fear, depression or hopelessness by focusing on one day at a time. Laser in on the present and move through your day one positive after another. Stephanie’s suggestion: Find a book filled with positive quotes, or beautiful photographs of New Orleans, or simply gather a box of happy photos (print them if necessary) and keep it with you. Whenever you start to feel down, pause to read or relish a memory.

Even if you’ve never tried it before, this is a terrific time to meditate.


Number 2: Steve’s tip: Make peace with uncertainty, knowing that you will adapt and eventually thrive in any environment. Stephanie’s suggestion: To keep a positive vibe going, find a daily meditation that speaks to you. YouTube is filled with free sessions and many motivational leaders have created sessions specifically to help us cope with COVID-19. Deepak Chopra and Jay Shetty are two examples.

There are apps and videos available to teach new languages; you can even take an online course.


Number 3: Steve’s tip: Embrace the random nature of life, as well as the personal growth you will experience as a result of positively responding to change. Stephanie’s suggestion: Use this time as the catalyst to learn something new. Download an app to learn a new language, such as Duolingo. If you’ve suddenly become a homeschool teacher, join your kids in reading “The Grapes of Wrath” or another classic such as “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.”

Technology can help you make someone’s day with a face-to-face connection.


Number 4: Steve’s tip: Accept the fact that your mood, attitude and overall daily disposition is a choice. You can choose misery, happiness or anyplace in between. Outside events only impact the quality of your emotional life if you allow them. Stephanie’s suggestion: Make one phone call every day to someone new: an old friend, a faraway family member, a former neighbor, your college roommate. Social distancing doesn’t mean all connection routes are closed. Plan a weekly ‘Zoom’ happy hour or ‘FaceTime’ social hour with your best friends and give yourself something to look forward to.

Take advantage of having everyone at home with some simple, non-screen activities.


Number 5: Steve’s tip: Use humor to offset dramatic events. Stephanie’s suggestion: When is the last time you played hide-and-seek? Have you ever made a Tik Tok video with your kids? If you don’t have kids, consider pulling out some of the board games you haven’t played in years, or one of the simplest mood boosters of all: dig out your old music collection and dance around your living room. Instead of actually going crazy, put on some Prince and play “Let’s Go Crazy” and dance it out. If you don’t have children at home, dance on your own; it’s a definite mood lifter.

Steve reminds us all that we were born with all the mental toughness we need to survive this crisis. He says, “Your resilience is the result of millions of years of evolution built into your brain. You will survive.”