I love writing my blog. It is a joy for me, and especially because I write when I want to, when the inspiration is there. No deadlines.
Over the past many months I have tried to write something. But a message wasn’t speaking to me. I would start to type….and delete. All the publications have been FILLED with advice and counsel about how to get through the pandemic. What else was there to say?
I have some thoughts and techniques that I have been sharing with my clients, friends, family, and….with myself, through the past many months. Here are a few things I have learned…..my “best of’s.” (It turns out these will come in handy post-pandemic too.)
EMPOWERMENT. We are inundated with information, there is no limit as to how much news we have access to. Often the news is covering things that we can do nothing about. Right now it is about the vaccine and who will get it and when. We do not really have a say in this process, though it is VERY encouraging that we have the vaccine to look forward to.
One thing that has worked very well for me is to draw a circle on a piece of paper and label it CONTROL. What do I have control over? MANY THINGS. What to wear to my virtual work calls, what to cook and eat, how much I exercise, whether to wear a mask, what time to go to bed, how I choose to celebrate a holiday. When I focus on what I can control, I feel…..well……in control!
When I focus on all the other stuff that is outside of my circle, things I can’t control, like the virus numbers, the weather, what’s going on in Washington, what is out of stock at the grocery store….that’s when I feel discouraged. But when focusing on what is INSIDE the circle, I feel more empowered, more in charge, and less at the mercy of everything else.
MINDFULNESS. I have been writing about it, along with lots of other people, for a number of years. It’s a good thing to do – being present and noticing our daily lives and moments. But not so easy to do when we are running at a fast pace through life. The pace is much slower now. As a result, there has been much more room to notice what is going on and relish the moment. Biting into something that tastes amazing, hearing an extraordinary piece of music, walking in the December sunshine, talking to a good friend, playing a game. All of these moments, which are really simple in nature, have taken on a different importance during the pandemic. They were important before, but we were busier and more distracted. So really paying attention to a moment and noticing it can be very satisfying. There are many things to be grateful for right now, if we look.
ANXIETY. The last many months have been filled with potential for anxiety. One thing to remember is that it is normal to feel anxious if the conditions warrant it. And they certainly do.
Here is something I have done to help manage anxiety. Again, take a piece of paper and draw a circle. Inside the circle, write all the things you are comfortable doing during this pandemic. That might or might not include going to a store, eating outdoors at a restaurant, getting on a plane, playing outdoor tennis, seeing friends in your backyard, or getting a haircut. Make YOUR decisions about what you are comfortable with.
Once you have made these decisions, just stick with it. If it’s not in your circle, don’t do it. Don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. If you stick to your circle, the things you have decided you are comfortable with, it will significantly reduce your anxiety. And you won’t have to go through the agonizing thought process of whether or not to do something. You just eliminate putting yourself in the position of feeling anxious.
Now I have to add, this circle will change as the conditions change. It was one way in the spring. Then it changed in summer when we could be outside. It is changing again with the cold weather. And the holidays throw us a real curve.
But try this and see if your anxiety stays in better check.
So we are in the midst of the holiday season, heading into the New Year and hopes for what could be. Remember, as far as noticing small moments, December 21st is the Winter Solstice, and the amount of sunlight will start to increase……a little bit at a time, but we’ll take all the light we can get. Maybe you will be inclined to try some of my “best of’s”, a little bit at a time, because that’s how we make changes anyway. I wish you much happiness and good health in 2021.