When the pandemic started, I initially thought that we would be like frogs in a boiling pot. Slowly getting used to this crisis and finding a new normal, not perceiving the danger of slowly getting cooked.
Looking back 4 months later, I’m not sure if I was right or not. I still feel like there is a huge amount of danger, if not even more right now, which we know only little about. I’m tired. Tired of being anxious, tired of not being able to plan, tired of reflecting on the impact of this on my kids, tired of making choices in difficult circumstances.
So when this all started and I felt overwhelmed and afraid of powering through to then burn out, I had decided to focus on 3 simple rules to try to cope through a pandemic.
I return to these often whenever I feel like I’m spiraling with the uncertainty of the next months to come.
Rule 1: Give yourself space to feel the feelings.
I’m pretty good at suppressing my emotions, which is in itself not a great thing so I actually need to consciously remind myself to pay attention to my feelings. That’s why this rule is important for me.
To put it into action, I’ve been journaling almost daily and trying my best to stay connected with what my body is physically telling me. For example, realizing how tense my shoulders have been feeling while I carry my anxiety in them, or noticing a knot in my stomach whenever I have to deal with making decisions for the months to come.
I’ve tried to allow space and time for this, which certainly has not been easy these last 4 months.
Rule 2: Identify what’s in your control.
Building up on the feelings identified above, my next rule is to then figure out how to move on to more pragmatic solutions by identifying what’s in my control.
I ask myself:
What are these unpleasant feelings telling me? What would I rather be feeling?
I then set some action steps down on paper that could help in getting closer to what I want to feel.
While being very aware that some of those recurring feelings basically have no action steps to get me to feel how I would rather be feeling, this helps me identify what’s completely out of my control. As for those feelings where I do have some control, I can identify concrete action steps that I can take to feel better.
Rule 3: What are your main priorities?
My final rule is to come back to the main values that are important to me and what basically guides my spending and every goal I set in my life.
I then look back at the list of action steps I got out of my reflection on what’s in my control and stick to implementing the action steps that primarily have a direct impact on the most important values for myself.
These are not bulletproof rules yet they’ve been helpful in making me feel empowered and giving me a greater sense of control. Two things I’ve personally been craving deeply through the uncertainty of this pandemic.
Some concrete changes that have resulted from following these include:
- Giving up alcohol. I was initially using it to numb all the feelings during the first month of the pandemic, plus this habit was leaving me with less energy and patience to help my kids cope through these strange times. I’ve been sober for 93 days on the day I’m posting this!
- Attempting (not always easy) to limit the time I spend on social media as it tends to increase my anxiety for things beyond my control.
- Implementing a daily yoga practice which I’ve been sticking to since mid-May.
Have you implemented any rules to help you through these strange times or have you taken action steps that have been helpful with coping through the pandemic?
P.s: Since the blog is heading in a more semi-anonymous direction, I’m starting up a newsletter on a regulary-ish basis for some more personal content.