December 15, 2020

5 Ways to Help Deal With Our Socially Distant Reality

When we are faced with adversity we all experience and handle it differently. But there is one thing that we know to be true right now, and that is, that we are all in this together. And I can’t help but believe that this is truly a levelling of sorts .. we are financially, intimately, professionally, educationally and spiritually being tested. And while we all experience different degrees or moments we are all being forced into a state of mindfulness that was completely unplanned. And while this mindfulness trend has been buzzing around for years, we are all experiencing a form of quiet that is foreign and unfamiliar.

It is easy to slip into fear and worry. And I have heard many clients express and literally teeter on the edge of “breaking”. We have a tendency to busy ourselves whether it’s to ignore our reality, or chase goals, our busyness gives us space to “put off” what may need to be handled. Our busyness is not necessarily conducive to self growth, introspection or simply being present. I am hearing themes such as struggles in current relationships, and unhappily stuck in the same house. I am hearing feelings of loneliness in full homes. I hear parents pulling their hair our trying to balance work and family in a shared space. I am hearing contemplations about what a future should look like now that we see it can so instantly be altered. I hear people questioning what they do everyday and why.

This historical moment is naturally a time where we may start to look at life a little differently. And while we start to unpack and poke around some of these experiences it makes sense to implement some tools to help guide the process. So I thought I’d share five things that I am finding helpful as I navigate this new, temporary reality:

1. Being present. We no longer have that breathing room that we are used to. Right now, we can’t go to work or to the gym. We can’t do all of the things that we are accustomed to. I suggest taking a breath and seeing things for what they are. We are all experiencing loss, whether it’s a graduation, a wedding date, a launch, or someone … these are all forms of loss. Walk it out, cry it out, write about it, make yourself laugh … we need to acknowledge the changes that are in front of us and accept that right now we may not be able to react and take action. In saying this, we have been here for a few weeks now so we’ve had time to acknowledge and adjust. So while we may not be able to execute actions that drive our future there are a number of things that we can do to help us move forward.

2. Keep a routine. I keep reading about and hearing from mental health experts that routine is essential. And I can’t help but agree that routine is at the forefront. Routine is predictable. And predictability is so helpful right now. A word of caution however … we naturally have a tendency to over schedule our lives which can lead to feelings of failure when we don’t accomplish what we had planned or expected. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding that time is passing far more quickly than I would have assumed. So schedule what needs to happen each day, the absolutes, and at the same time have an on-going ‘nice to do’ list that can fill your time when it allows. At the same time we cannot let the list become a backpack of should’s that we carry around. Because ‘shoulds’ equate to failure.

3. Move. I am so grateful that spring is on the horizon. Who knew that getting out for a simple, quiet walk would be so oxygenating. The inability to get to the gym, ski hill or tennis court is our new current reality. We’ve all heard that moving our bodies is good for our bodies and our brains, and there is loads of research to affirm this. Leave your phone at home or turn on an uplifting, resourceful podcast and get some steps in. And if going for a walk is not your thing, there are a multitude of fitness apps and local studios posting home work outs. Our options here are indeed endless.

4. Say yes to brain candy. Diversion is a tool. Diverting the brain to something that it can truly get lost in is a way to help quiet the worry and pass some time. This is different than avoidance as it is a conscious choice and moment in time that you are strategically directing. From an entertaining show to learning a brand new skill, there are loads of options out there. We can find learn to draw courses, paint by numbers packages, learn a new language, and listen to podcasts that immerse us. Actually listening to lyrics and sending the song to your partner. Sending thank you cards, or funny cards to people you love and think of. This quiet brings the potential for so may gifts. Dig through old picture boxes and reminisce. Host a family cocktail hour or Sunday dinner via the multitude of outlets I am so grateful to have access to. Plant a garden – yes amazon delivers soil and pots, and well, what doesn’t amazon deliver? There are things that we can do to simply engage our brain in a space where we can step away from the mundane.

There is one last thing that I will leave you with. Right now, in this moment, it is my belief that we all need to become best friends with self compassion. We are so damn hard on ourselves and likely unaware of the story that we let dictate our life’s direction. Our stories usually don’t play well with self compassion. Be nice to yourself. Be your biggest cheerleader. See your wins over your losses. I get that this is difficult at times, and that our current wins may appear as somewhat insignificant. But again, self compassion desperately needs to be in our forefront.

Stay healthy and love you.

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