I was going to write about my delayed mid life crisis. Delayed because unless I live to be over 120 years, it was not really ‘midlife”. Now, it seems silly to write about something that dwarfs in comparison to what I have been feeling and experiencing. The onslaught of this global pandemic is now in our own backyards.
I stopped being my usual productive and engaging self. Yes, I reached out to my ‘essential’ clients and offered to help. Yes, I reached out to my Jewish community, my women’s leadership community and my not for profit community. I offered to help; to do what I do best – help others thrive through change and transition. And yet, I stopped taking care of myself. I felt a bit frozen in my own isolation.
I no longer had a work schedule. I was no longer able to go swimming , or to my favorite strength training studio, and yoga sangha. Most of my clients were now focused on their business at hand. I was left alone. Yes my husband is here, thank goodness. I don’t mind being alone, however when it is other directed rather than self-selected, day in and day out it does not serve me. Being at home is a challenge as I know it is for so many.
I have been home for a little over three weeks or so. Time no longer keeps the same way. I sometimes don’t know what day it is. Each day simply begins at sunrise and ends at sundown. Though for all the essential workers, their clocks have been going 24 hours non stop trying to protect us from additional infection and death.
I have walked a little, rode my bike a little, meditated with yoga a little, baked a lot and made many, many pots of soup. Plus I binged watched all the episodes of Game of Thrones. For some this can be considered productive. For me, I was simply going through the motions without real engagement and focus. Plus I wasn’t sleeping. As soon as I layed my head down on the pillow, anxious thoughts began to pour in.
Let’s start with my facts and truths. I am a hypochondriac. I was not feeling well for 2 days and thought for sure I was infected. I called my doctor and after she went through the Covid 19 assessment and assured me it was not. I had trouble seeing out of my left eye and was worried something was wrong and I wouldn’t be able to see my opthamologist. My left lens on my glasses was dirty with a film of pollen. I had chest pains and thought what if I am having a heart ache and their is no medical professionals to help me. The chest pains went away. It was indigestion. With my psychology training and time spent in therapy, I know this represents a cognitive distortion of my reality. Knowing this does not, I repeat does not make me feel better.
I have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder a long time ago. During these times, it is overwhelming and I have had difficulty concentrating and coping. Plus I thrive in the company of others; this is evidenced by data as well. All of the psychological profiles that I have taken over the years clearly articulates both my strengths and areas for development. Over the last few weeks, I have been challenged to find and lean on my strengths in a real and honest way.
I agree 100% with Brene Brown that if you name your fears and give it a voice you then take away its power to control, then you can then walk alongside your fear and show up for your life.
I have now shared my truths. I am now walking along side my insecurities and fears. I am here if you need me. I am leaning on my strengths and resilence to do what I do best. This is not about thriving through change. This is not about defining a future vision? It is showing up each day and being present. It is about acknowledging all your accomplishments, no matter how small.
So this is what I have started to do and hopefully will continue no matter how long the stay at home order is mandated (I am putting into practice evidenced based positive psychology tools and strategies):
- Each day before I get up, I say out loud three things I am grateful for and I set my daily intention.
- Limit the amount of news I consume with a cutoff of 8:00pm. I do plan on listening to Governor Andrew Cuomo as he has replaced George Clooney as my imaginary boyfriend; and Dr. Fauci, our infectious disease expert.
- Limit my caffeine intake later in the day, though I was worried I could no longer order my favorite espresso.
- Work out as many times a day as needed as sometimes once is not enough
- Keep a schedule or routine, though fluidity is my friend now.
- Use the five senses grounding technique to mitigate my anxiety
- Allow myself no more than 10 minutes at a time to worry.
- Be okay with not being okay.
- Meditate in small increments – I have found ‘The Big Quiet’ on Instagram very soothing and this 3 hour music focus for concentration is effective and relaxing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nby5jgjb0Dk
- Dance around my house because no one is watching – I have found DJ DNice’s Quarantine Club on Instagram the dance party we all need right now.
- Learn in lockdown – I am teaching myself piano and learning new coloring techniques.
- Always look for ways to be of service to others.
- Getting back to my business; my coaching and training firm ‘Im Not Done Yet – with the tagline of ‘thriving through change and transition’. How appropriate during these times of change? I haven’t been thriving much lately, and that is ok. I will continue to do the work of fostering connection, caring for others and creating results without attachment to them.
I was lost the last few weeks, and now I have found my way back. As Governor Cuomo refers to NYS with strength, stamina and stability I too will lean on my foundation of the same. Along with my cloud of concern, for myself, my family, my friends, my community and the world.
Stay Safe. Stay Healthy. Stay Home. We will get though this together.
“Do right and don’t look back, and things will turn out well.” —Vincent van Gogh