It’s been well over a week ago when the world began to feel like it was imploding and so began the process of self-quarantine for many. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this entire experience has been filled with change, emotional challenges and most of all some level of fear. We are so conditioned to stay busy, keep moving, follow schedules, keep routines to the point of daily mental and physical exhaustion. So now, here we are. We are not being singled out as a city, state or nation. The entire world (except for essential workers) has been forced to pause and stay inside their homes. I can tell you from my experience the first few days seemed odd, but then again, nothing about this feels normal. Yet on some level, if you take the epidemic factor out of it, it seems like this retreat has been quite necessary. Has it been easy? Of course not. Personally, I can’t recall ever watching so many press conferences in my life. Now, so many businesses have been shut down and schools have been closed. Teachers and parents are reinventing the wheel at home trying to balance homeschooling and all the while balancing personal and work lives. Many of us are preparing our daily meals at home, staying stocked up on food and trying to keep up with the ever breaking news about the coronavirus. So now what? What do we do in a time when uncertainty is at the forefront of the economy while jobs and lives are at stake. We are living in a way that seems like we have regressed in time and living in a different era. But we aren’t. We are living this experience and we are doing it together. In many ways, our well being depends on one another more so than ever before.
Since we all have a little extra time to isolate and ponder, think about where you were two months ago, 6 months ago, one year ago or even 5 years ago. Did you ever catch yourself wishing you had more time to yourself? Did you ever feel like you never had enough time at home with your families? Did you ever feel like you were living a fast-paced life filled with obligations, errands, work, and more work? Sure, you may say, “Ok, yes but that’s what vacations are for”. Hmmm, really? Did you ever find yourself racing back from vacation to rush back to your daily grind and think, “God, I need a vacation from my vacation?” Well, here we are. In some bizarre and strange way, many wishes were granted. No matter how you dice it, we are all in unfamiliar territory as a collective. Why not take this time and call it a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’. Move beyond the boredom. This time of quarantine could be the time when you find the answers you’ve been looking for along your journey. It could be a time of self-discovery. Is this moment hovered by a cloud of uncertainty and fear? Of course, but the goal here is to not let that fear tear you down. How do you get to this place of serenity while the big viral monster likely spreads? You can try three things.
- Stay busy and discover new ways of enjoying life.
- Set boundaries with the intake of news and media content.
- Stay in gratitude.
Whether you are home or still working your job outside of your home, continue being present in your activities. If you have to work, invest every moment into that job and do it to the best of your capacity. Your mind will be occupied and distracted. If you are working from home or are a student, then pour your energy into that. Will there be some glitches or learning curves? Yes possibly, but that can also happen if we didn’t have a global pandemic. That is all part of life. The challenges and tests along the way come in different colors and flavors. So keep living and appreciating the moment. Engage in activities that you enjoy, discover new ones. Connect or re-connect with friends and family members online or maybe even have an old fashioned phone call with someone. Check-in on those you care about.
Setting boundaries is key since we are constantly getting bombarded with breaking news and as you may know already most of it is either infuriating, sad or depressing. I say stay informed but be selective throughout your day on what information sources you allow into your daily experience. That also goes for people. Yes, you should check in on one another but if you know the kind of people that drain your energy, then here is a good time to also set those boundaries.
Finally, stay in gratitude. When all of this pandemic started and the early days of self-quarantining began, my mind was racing with thoughts, fears and, uncertainty. With practice and some mindfulness tools at home, I began to remind myself of what I was thankful for. I’m a big proponent of writing lists of gratitude. So here you get bonus points for writing or journaling a list of things you are grateful for. Be thankful for anything no matter how big or small. Make that your focus and beacon and keep reminding yourself of that. Thoughts and words are pure energy. What you focus on is what you attract. Is that going to make your fears and emotions not spiral at times? Nope, I can’t promise you that. But based on personal experience I can assure you that you will benefit from shifting your mindset, this will create more peace of mind. Even if it’s for a few moments. It’s a muscle you have to put to practice. Just imagine doing lunges or lifting weights and building your endurance, that is the practice of gratitude and staying more positive. It puts so much into perspective in times like these.
I say this not to diminish the anguish that so many people are experiencing. Whether it is through the struggle of health issues or experiencing the losses that this pandemic has left behind. However, it is our responsibility to ourselves and to those around us to try and live in a balanced and healthy mental, physical and emotional state of mind. In this time of quarantine, we also are being made responsible for one another like never before. Just imagine that by staying at home and not spreading this virus it is your way of holding someone’s hand, from afar and saying, “I’ve got your back. We are in this together”.
Stay healthy and safe and although I trust better days are ahead, let’s remember that this moment right now is a gift. It is a gift that many are no longer here to unwrap. Let’s do our best to invest in ourselves and in others.