Let’s face it, it’s a challenge for many of us to feel a sense of forward movement in the current environment at work and in our personal lives. With the monotonous-yet-grueling ambiguity of pandemic life for over a year, many are overwhelmed and exhausted. Many of us are feeling hope on the horizon and the combination of what we’ve been through and what’s coming is leading to big, life-altering questions like:
- Should I move?
- Is this the career I want?
- I enjoy not racing around from one thing to the next – how do I avoid returning to the frenetic pace we maintained when things reopen?
There is a reason why we are feeling this way. A visual will represent it best. Draw a vertical line and a horizontal line that intersect in the middle on a piece of paper. The horizontal line represents your energy (from low to high) and the vertical line represents your emotion (from low/negative to high/positive). On a normal day we rotate throughout relative highs and lows of both energy and emotion. Somedays, everything is going working out as desired and life feels like it has an upbeat soundtrack – this is a high-high day. And then there are the days where we feel like Eeyore – that’s low-low.
For what is likely the first time ever, at least in our lifetime, we are collectively in a sustained and long-term state of low energy and low emotion. That’s what a pandemic will do to you.
Here’s something to consider: a low energy-low emotion state is not all bad. A low-low state is inherently more reflective. When we are feeling energetic and exceedingly positive, we are not as likely to ask the big, deep questions. When we are in a low-low state, we are ready to take stock in our lives. It’s also the state where depression and anxiety live. That’s also why so many are quite literally not OK right now. Of course, there is a spectrum of not being OK and professional help should be consulted if you are having difficulty functioning day-to-day. (see resources below).
Instead of fighting or numbing this collective low-low state, we can use it for what it is: a reflective space. Here are some questions to get you started:
- What has the last year taught me about what is really important to me?
- What are the basics I need to feel fulfilled and happy?
- What are my daily practices (never more than seven things) that help me recharge?
- What parts of my life do I want to retain once things reopen?
- What are the ‘pandemic habits’ that will need to change?
The call to action is not to write that book or color code your bookshelf (I’m guilty of this). It’s to give yourself a break. Rest. Reflect. Know that this, too, shall pass. And maybe you can come out of it with a sense of clarity and renewed connection to your purpose.
**If you are struggling with depression or anxiety, seek help from a licensed professional.