It’s been several weeks now and we’ve all been trying to get a handle on the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic and what is becoming our new normal. If you’re an extrovert like me and thrive on human connections, distancing yourself from others socially and in business can be particularly challenging. Zoom meetings with homemade latte in hand may keep business moving forward, yet for me virtual meetings are no substitute for serendipitous water cooler conversations.
For a good part of my career I’ve worked remotely with long distance clients and their agencies, so I thought it would be relatively easy for me to adapt to the Covid induced virtual workspace reality. But this scenario is different, because it’s not driven by logistics or personal choice, but rather something out of our control, the necessity to limit in-person interactions as a matter of survival.
Yesterday I was so frustrated and angry at the way my life had gone into a tailspin in a matter of weeks, so I took a long walk in the woods to get a better handle on my feelings. I realized that only part of what I felt was attributed to the uncertainty and uncontrollable nature of the coronavirus on my life and everyone else in the world. The other driver was the significant impact that the virus has on the schedules and routines that help me effectively manage my life. Over the last several weeks my priorities seemed to change. I rarely left home, and when I did donned with mask and gloves, it was for a necessary chore. I missed my routine ferry to the city, status meetings, live workshops, scheduled yoga classes, dinners out and most of all my early morning coffee run.
So here I am in the woods. I cursed a little, cried a little (luckily no one heard me as I was alone and at least six feet from the closest tree) then pulled myself together and decided to use the mindfulness training and coaching tools I had in hand. Knowing I can’t change what is, but I can change how I approach this new reality – I was determined to find a way to regain control and design my new normal.
Everyone knows that we need to practice good hygiene, social distancing and healthy habits to strengthen our immune system and protect ourselves from Covid-19. But I also believe that self-care which includes taking care of our mental and emotional well-being, is equally as important and essential to finding our path forward and being in a good place as we journey through these difficult times.
I’ve identified a few strategies that I am using to practice self-care, establish a routine, find peace of mind and feel more in control. I call my initiative “Design Your New Normal” and here are a few that are working for me.
- Stay connected: It is a great time to check in with friends, family and colleagues that matter to you. There are many options, Face-time, Zoom, Google Hang-outs, but do turn your video on when you make the call. Seeing someone’s face helps you pick up on the subtle information and emotions that facial expressions reveal. At the very least it will encourage you to attempt styling your hair and putting on a decent shirt.
- Move your body: Now is the time to be physically active, not only because it elevates all the essential neurochemicals in your brain like the endorphins we need to feel good, but it also keeps the weight down if you are more sedentary than usual, not commuting, or spending more time exploring the contents of your icebox. Just getting up from you desk and rocking on your heels, reaching your arms over head or swinging them as you turn from your waist is a good start. If you are feeling more ambitious, I found that companies like Peloton and Sculpt Society are offering free trial memberships for online workouts.
- Be Present: This is where my mindfulness training comes in handy when I am not feeling right. Our brains like to tell stories, thinking back and remembering, fantasizing about the future, hardly staying quiet and in the moment. Given all that surrounds us in the news these days, we may be experiencing myriad unwanted feelings, sorrow, fear and the like. I have a few different meditation practices, which I find helpful. Yours can be as simple as stopping what you’re doing, closing your eyes, and finding an anchor like your breath or a sound to slow the mind. If meditation is not your thing then take a long deep breath and check in with yourself. Cry, scream, whatever you need. Why not, after all, you’re probably working from home and chances are no one is going to hear you.
- Get Out There: This is about enjoying what we still have, natures beauty, free and for all. If you have a park or a trail nearby take a mid-day walk for an hour, maybe with your roommate or partner or dog. Despite my extroverted nature, I like to go solo when I can silently reflect with gratitude on what is right, like the fact that spring is here, and so are we. I find that when I come back from a walk I feel clear headed and refreshed, with a much better attitude and far more productive.
- Limit Screen time: It’s important to know what’s going on, but right now I find myself feeling down after I take in too much news. Experts say that we should try limiting our news intake to 30 minutes a day. Also holding myself accountable for only one episode on Netflix before I go to bed helps me sleep better then when I binge watch. The issue with viewing a screen for a period of time before you sleep is that it messes with your circadian rhythm and makes it harder to sleep well.
- Be Good to You: As a family person, colleague and friend I know how important it is to be there for others, but the bitter truth is that you may not be there for them if you don’t take care of yourself, mind and body. Psychologists tell us that taking care of ourselves and doing what we love and need to do is not selfish. In fact when you’re taken care of, everybody else can be too.
During these Covid-19 days of working from home and living a new normal, I’ve been checking off at least 4 of my strategies modified to address different daily challenges and meeting schedules. I’m a little short of my goal to perfect my new normal and thrive, but I do find comfort in knowing that the Covid-19 coronavirus, although relentless, can’t control how I take care of myself and for that I am grateful.
In closing, if you would like to connect with me to discuss your challenges, design your new normal or have strategies to share please reach out. In good health!