The year of 2020 has been one of the most challenging for all of us due to Coronavirus restrictions, political turmoil and racial tensions in our country. Few, if any, dispute that we’re living in a new normal whichd requires that we take a new perspective. My suggestion for this October is that you give yourself a series of instant lifts by taking extraordinary steps to deal with the extraordinary times we’re living in.

  1. Start by looking around you for a few minutes and take in what you see. In October the days are abundant with colorful, falling leaves. Orange pumpkins dot the landscape. The days start to get shorter. And there’s a chill in the air. Perhaps you celebrate the changing seasons with Oktoberfest or Halloween in a new way. But celebrate nonetheless in a safe, sensible way.
  2. Consider committing to ongoing mindfulness practices for 5 minutes a day to keep your life on an even keel. Mindfulness meditation quiets your mind. It does what the medicine field once relied on drugs to do. It reduces chronic pain, lifts depression, boosts your immune system, improves your mood and amps up productivity.
  3. Pay attention to your reactions. When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power lies. That approach will help you refrain from giving the finger to the slow commuter in front of you or from snarling at a coworker for being a slacker. Be willing to let go of negativity, control, anger and all the other habits that can cause your life to go into the crapper. Continue to take a personal inventory and when wrong promptly admit it without self-condemnation. Contemplate on kindness and compassion and express it in abundance to yourself and others.
  4. Remind yourself that you’re no longer on duty to shoulder the weight of the world. See if you can become less attached to outcomes and do your best to accept what happens. Let worry, control and impatience become burdens of the past and not concerns of the future. Continue to remind yourself that you can’t change others but you can change yourself. What do you need to let go of? The more focused you are on keeping your own side of the street clean, the more manageable your life becomes.
  5. Don’t sweat small stuff such as minor snafus of time urgency that can steal your calm and serenity. Let your habit of magnifying small problems into huge roadblocks and drenching your nervous system with a cocktail of stress, frustration, or impatience become a distant memory.
  6. Slow down. Avoid hitting the ground running, eating on the run or skipping meals to get work done. Chill your frantic work habits and continue to include mindful eating and drinking to quiet your mind. Establish reasonable work schedules and deadlines that reduce job stress and enhance your productivity.
  7. Watch the ruminations in your mind from a distance and be willing to let go of a negative mindset. See if you can suspend negative beliefs and stop jumping to conclusions. Will the big honchos shoot down my idea? Can I meet the deadline? Will I make it home in time for dinner? When something bad happens, try to become curious, instead of judgmental, and ask, “How can I look at this hardship in a different way and turn it around to benefit me?” Perhaps you think, “My boss doesn’t have confidence in me.” And you do a turnaround with a more truthful thought: “Maybe I don’t believe in myself right now.”
  8. Stay fit, stay safe and self-care. Think of your remote work site as the Olympics where your physical and mental endurance hinge on being in good shape. Prime yourself with good nutrition, ample rest and vigorous exercise. Avoid nicotine, and if you drink, use alcohol in moderation. Make an appointment with yourself and schedule something fun during your time off. Indulge yourself with a hobby, hot bath, manicure, yoga, facial or immerse yourself in nature. Just 5 or 10 minutes of self-care a day can lower your stress, recharge your batteries and raise your well-being and productivity levels.

If you take just a few of these steps, you will notice instant lifts in your mental and physical health. You may not even know it, but the new normal in your outlook and your continued actions change the structure of your brain over time. You rewire your brain with automatic, healthier patterns that lead you to more calm and happiness, work/life integration and career success—no matter how dire the circumstances.


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: