Back in September I wrote an article “Living Ten Yards At A Time” for Thrive Global. And given the current state of affairs I think it bears repeating – anxiety and fear come when the world feels chaotic and out of our control. In football, playing 10 yards at a time is a strategic choice, it means the offense has assessed the difficult opponent and is consciously choosing a strategy for long-term success through short-term gains. When working against a top-notch defense where you as the quarterback has to grind it out because if you get the ball too far out a superior cornerback could intercept the ball meant for your receiver. Then you have to start all over again and defend turf you just conquered.
When things seem chaotic and uncertain anxiety and fear set in when we try to take in the whole picture and focus on the torrent of information coming at us. That would overwhelm anyone! The key to “10 yards at a time” is to focus on what is right in front of you – the short-term goals that will lead to wellness, calmness and overall health for the current crisis and set you up to withstand any crisis that comes.
First – Exercise! It’s advice as old as time. To get and stay healthy, strengthen your immune system, increase endorphins, feed mitochondria and lift your spirits you need to get the blood pumping! It’s spring now (in most of the country) and I don’t know about you, but my dog is loving the current situation. We take three long walks each day and enjoy the sunshine, fresh air and blooming trees and flowers. I still feel part of the neighborhood and community, as I see my neighbors also out walking their dogs (it’s Virginia – we all have dogs) but we are respectful of physical space. Additionally, I’ve been dusting off the old workout DVD collection – three mornings a week I have been giving myself 30 minutes of exercise – old-school calisthenics, yoga, and even 1990s step aerobics!
Puttering around – how my grandpa (and probably yours) would describe his weekends. Make a to do list of all those things you bemoan never having time for and keep it handy. In between homeschool lessons for the kids and your 19th teleconference call, get up, walk around and take something off the list – I’ve had a rolling list for two weeks. Every time I accomplish a task I think of another to add! This is also a great “practical living” teaching time for the kids while they are at home. For everyone who complains that “no one knows how to do _____ (fill in the blank)” now is the perfect time to teach your kids how to do every day tasks (or find a YouTube video and learn together!) So far, I’ve hemmed pants, sharpened my knives and scissors, and sorted out the reusable bags – those that need to be washed and those whose service needs to be put to rest (those things don’t last forever). I’ve been going through closets and putting things online to sell, making “donate” and “toss” piles and assessing what I use and what I don’t with this gift of time at home to really evaluate all my possessions. What’s on your list?
Reading! I like real books and magazines, but they’ve been piling up with my busy time of work in the fall and winter. I take a couple of hours each day to read through the magazines that have piled up and have made a list of books to read. I’m also going online to read about this virus from respected sources and stay on top of the news – but I limit myself to 30-minute sessions as to not get overwhelmed, anxious or despondent. The time limit also lessens the likely hood that I’ll get trapped in a pit of conspiracy theory quicksand. Knowledge is power. Chatter and opinions are quicksand. Arm yourself with the first to be able to sidestep the second.
Give yourself the gift of quiet. I saw a commercial recently that said the average family spends just 37 minutes together each day (ironically, I think the ad was hawking convenience food…) And, every April there’s a “black out” night – where people unplug the electronics and have an old-fashioned, quiet night at home to reflect on climate change and what humans need to do. Give yourself and your family the gift of time – sure humanity is out of practice with every distraction possible, but if you are holed up together, take the time to share family stories, play board games, if you have a yard, get out there and look up at the clouds. This is the perfect time to make memories that later on you and your family will cherish. This is also one of the tenets of Lent – strip away the clutter and noise of the world to focus on what is really important in life.
Lastly, try new things – this incorporates all the above. Use this time to learn a new skill, pick up an old hobby, teach your kids about something you love, try new recipes, read new books to learn new things about the world, write letters to friends and family – make phone calls to check on friends and family!
Humans are innately creative. We will get through this crisis together. We can see this as a catastrophe to hide from or we can use this time to shore up our resiliency and create new, amazing things. I’m rooting for the later, I hope you are too.