Finding Comfort and Connection in Today’s New Normal
Chaotic. That’s how I’d describe my state of mind over the past 3 weeks.
As a coach, I should be in a good position to deal with this.
I’ve a. worked from home for long enough to have the process mostly down, and b. spent many years learning, teaching and practicing the wellness and emotional coping mechanisms we all need right now.
But here’s the reality. The first weeks of homestay were completely overwhelming, for me and for most of my clients. In a blink everything changed. The whole of the disruption was compounded by relationship challenges, income adjustments and in my case, 2 teenagers at home, making all of life feel precarious.
Suddenly there are so many things to worry about; job security, aging parents, family and friends and kids and finances and loneliness and toilet paper.
The national news was so depressing. Searching for answers from my local community, I turned to a neighborhood chat group. Rather than practical information, the members (my neighbors) were arguing about whether a bad actor posting inappropriate content should be allowed to return to the forum.
After days of tracking this drama, it struck me how odd it was to get sucked into a virtual disagreement with neighbors I’d never met, but there I was. Strange and eerie.
And then, my work started requiring Zoom video. My first run-in with the video made me look 10 years older, which made me even more depressed.
Family, work, life; everything felt out of my control. It took a full blown meltdown to redirect my striving nature. After 2 days of intermittent crying, feeling sorry for myself and basically coming unglued, I saw I had a whole lot of stuff to deal with.
No amount of goal setting can fix this situation. Hard as it was, I had to start letting go of deeply entrenched expectations, including of how I “should have” coped.
We all need time to acclimate to this new environment. For me it was important to salvage as much pre-Covid normalcy as possible. But I needed to change some things too. I had to make an extra effort to hug the kids and praise them for what is working instead of harping on what isn’t. I had to practice gratitude.
I began by taking more time in the morning to start my day right. My morning now includes a simple routine, which helps to keep you out of “fight or flight” mode this situation has evoked for many people.
I realized I needed to reassess my values and priorities. I had been on track to grow my business by promoting my new Women in Leadership workshops to corporate clients. I worked hard on the program and was on the verge of launching. But in the current moment, I realized I had to pivot to shift my extra time and attention to my community.
I thought about how I could help. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in a while. I called an aunt I rarely speak to except in person, but now is the time to breach norms. I called and texted people I don’t usually contact out of the blue. It felt like an effort, but it paid off in spades.
I re-assessed my work with clients to recognize comfort and connection as top priority needs right now. It really resonates. When you’re focused on a goal, like finding a new job, you always feel like you need to be doing something. My role is normally to help clients stay on track and focus on results.
But right now, it’s important to give yourself permission to put on your mask first. Which, in times of uncertainty, means finding comfort in the familiar.
Coaching note: Feed your soul with the music, activities, food and memories that ground you. Here you’ll find the stability and strength to move forward.
I limited my news and social media access. “Coronavirus stress syndrome” is a new term used to describe the anxiety and panic caused by the constant media coverage of the illness.
Experts report, the more stressed a person is, the more their immune system is weakened, watching round-the-clock news about coronavirus actually makes people more vulnerable to it.
For those who suffer from depression and anxiety, and most of us are feeling anxious these days, watching the news, can worsen symptoms. Coaching Note: So rather than avoid news altogether, allocating a specific 30-minute window in the evening to catch up free you to focus on other, more positive things during the day.
In the 3 weeks since that meltdown, my mental state has improved tremendously. I’m honoring my energy levels, prioritizing well-being over productivity and appreciating all we have to be grateful for. I’m thankful every day that by following the social distancing guidelines, my family and friends are safe. And my heart goes out to those directly effected by this horrible disease.
I know from personal experience that everything else, the stress, the financial insecurity, the material loss, is overcome-able.
Wishing you comfort and connection during this challenging time.