What extraordinary, unsettling times we are living in!
The past couple of weeks have been pretty crazy for most of us. Facing challenges in every single level. Being frightened for our health, the economy, the social impact of this global pandemic. I know that most of you, just like me, are forced to stay at home, to protect yourselves and the people around you. Let me send you a big virtual hug, which is all we can do these days with our loved ones, and tell you that this too will be over.
This state we are in influences us all, but some are hit harder than others. I can’t stop thinking about the consequences that this outbreak has to the less privileged of the world. The homeless people, the victims of domestic violence, older people that feel isolated and helpless, the animals that rely on people’s support, the list is long. Not to mention the people that mourn for a loss, and are not even allowed to visit their families.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought life largely indoors and that is undoubtedly a challenging situation for everyone. No matter what you’re facing right now, please know you’re not alone. We are all trying to adapt, and take things one day at a time.
Apart from all possible scenarios and analyses about the virus itself the internet is full with suggestions about establishing routines that make working from home productive, successfully balancing work and child care at home, and keeping your sanity in this so unpredictable situation.
It took me some time to adjust to the new situation and I am happy to admit that I also experienced some positive effects of it. I slowed down. No matter how important goals I set, or how my deadlines look like, I had to accept that everything must stay on hold and I can’t control or plan anything at all. Will this be over soon? Will my life come back to normal? I don’t know. No one does.
Since we can’t know how the next few weeks will unfold, we just have to embrace this uncertainty and shift our focus at the present moment.
This pause can be a chance for us to reconcile with ourselves. To lower the outer noise and listen to our needs. To observe and reset the way we see our lives, our choices, the people around us. With love and kindness we can use this time to be more mindful of our thoughts and emotions and to reflect on them.
I have been taught to believe that I have to constantly make the best of my time, to work towards self-improvement and achieve my goals. I know that this is a widespread phenomenon in the western capitalistic culture. It is one of the most common problems that I get to talk about with my coaching clients and fellow freelancers.
We suffer from the strong desire to overachieve, to get things done no matter what.
Right now with so many headlines prompting us to use effectively all this available time that we theoretically have, the pressure to be productive is bigger than ever. Guidelines and lists with things that we could repair, organize, change in our household, all the series that are a must see, all the books that are suitable for these times, all the cool workouts to replace our walking out there in the real world, all the theatre plays and exhibitions that are available online, all the meals we can also now learn to cook. Even the parties we can plan and attend online.
I never felt more urged to stay offline and take a moment to breathe.
Even if you really have some extra free time, I don’t need to tell you that this is not a luxury. It is more a forced break from your reality, instead of a choice. And with so much going on, maybe the best thing to do is to mindfully observe where your attention goes during the day, instead of beating yourself up for not being as productive, as the internet suggests.
Don’t give up
That said, if you are a small business owner, if you connect with your audience with your content, if you have a dream that makes your heart beat, keep taking action! Even if the market is slow at the moment. Even if you feel that your audience doesn’t pay attention. Even if it’s quiet out there. Don’t give up. Keep moving forward taking one step at a time. You definitely can’t change what is happening in the world, but you can decide how you experience it. Keep showing up for your business, keep working at your craft, keep your passions alive, even if it seems like everything is on hold.
Talking with fellow business owners gave me so much hope and perspective. A pilates instructor creating online courses for her clients, a product designer designing lovely easter ornaments, a honey maker continuing her production and distribution, a coach trainer giving his courses online.
Life goes on, the world keeps moving on and staying active is what keeps your hopes up and your energy level high. It’s what brings you clarity, it’s what gives you the mental resources to survive frenzied times.
Although everyone is coping with this differently, it can be that you experience emotions that are overwhelming. If you are concerned or in panic, if you feel stressed or afraid, it’s ok. These are all normal, valid emotions, but please don’t keep them to yourself. This is the time to practice self-compassion and accept your vulnerability. You don’t have to pretend to have things under control. Social distancing doesn’t mean social isolation. Connect with your friends, your family, your colleagues. Also encourage your friends and family to talk to you, listen empathetically, help them through their anxiety by being there for them, share your thoughts, joke about it. I am not a mental health expert and I can hardly say that I can offer you all the right solutions, but I know that much.
We are in this together!
This global wake up call is likely to stir things up for everyone and also give us the opportunity for some moments of self reflection. We need to synthesize all that information, all those concerns we have into something meaningful. This is definitely not the time to fix things, but a minor reset of our focus at what’s important for us can’t hurt either. Let’s all try to remain grateful and calm, instead of giving in to stress and fear.
Give in to small pleasures that will bring some joy and laughter in your day. Take really good care of yourself and take it easy! After all, this too shall pass.