I’d certainly sound like a broken record if I start this post off by saying that this has been a rough year for everyone but I’m doing it anyway because it has been. I remember when we were all quarantined back in March and my co-worker literally thought we would be back in the office after the two week mandatory quarantine. In April, myself and several others thought we would be back to normal some time in May. At the end of May, a friend asked if I was planning on cancelling my birthday plans (my birthday was at the end of Summer). I thought he was overreacting because I didn’t think the virus would last that long. And now, here we are, a little under two weeks away from 2021, and my mother said she heard on CNN, that there is another variation of the virus that’s more contagious and easier to catch (please don’t quote me on that, I encourage you to research this on your own). To say that 2020 was rough for all of us is giving this year entirely too much credit. Respectfully!
This virus has flipped our world upside down and shifted everything we knew as normal so far out of sight, that the things we took for granted seems so taboo and forbidden these days. The concept of personal space has taken on an entirely different meaning, and our mask has unlocked a whole new level of mystery to our overall identity. Staying indoors for longer than we’d like has forced some of us to take the risk of being outside around others without our mask, and there are those who refuse to wear a mask because it’s a violation of their rights and freedom. I’m barely scratching the surface of what I’m describing as our new normal. The pandemic has made it clear that a drastic shift in change can be too much for most of us to endure. Our society is centered around our freedom, our rights, and our independence so to willingly give up those components, is a huge violation of our boundaries, our comfort level, our capabilities, and our livelihood.
When we feel violated and vulnerable in situations like these we have to shift perspectives and focus on what we can control. One way we can do this is through emotional self-care. Emotional self-care are self-care activities that we use to take care of our wellness and wellbeing. This can take the form of therapy, meditation or journaling. It allows us to show up for ourselves with more compassion so we can be fully present to show up for others. When we tap into our emotional self-care, we are better equipped to adjust to a shift in change, find the lesson in those changes, and are able to implement those changes in all the we do, especially when we feel challenged. This is so important because we are not always able to control our environment. 2020 has been proof of that.
There are six lessons and practices I think we can use to help us navigate how we show up and adjust to shifts during the pandemic and in our life in general. These lessons and practices will allow us to be proactive and not reactive. When you have a steady emotional-self care routine, these lessons become automatic. Meaning, you will likely shift into a space of calm and understanding. In essence your practice will come into play when faced with challenges.
PRACTICE COMPASSION: For yourself and for others. Self-Compassion is a practice we can use to help mitigate factors such as negative self talk. Furthermore, practicing compassion towards ourselves will allow us to show compassion towards others. Additionally, some of us are harboring a great deal of frustration because of the pandemic. Self-compassion will make space for you to turn your frustration into emotional productivity. By shifting your mindset, you will minimize that frustration and accept what is, while finding the lesson and understanding to what’s happening in the moment. It will also create space for us to understand and show compassion for others, understanding that they are experiencing the same frustrations, and their behavior is not a reflection of us but a response to what’s occurring in their own life.
PLANS CHANGE: If 2020 didn’t show you this, I dont know what will. The kind of change we’re experiencing this year was unexpected and came without warning. If this year hasn’t made you feel well equipped to adjust your plans accordingly without notice in the future, then you’re missing the bigger picture in 2020. A change in plans can be an opportunity for you to focus your energy on other alternatives, it makes you more flexible, and it could be a blessing in disguise. A change in plans could literally be a lifesaver because who knows what the outcome would have been if things remained the same.
BE STILL: This is the opportunity for some of us to slow down. Instead of finding restrictions in remaining still, think about why you’re being forced to slow down. A lot of us stay on the move because we’re running from ourselves. Some of us are so anxious for things to get back to normal that we are missing out on what’s happening right now, the bigger picture not just the pandemic.
SOLITUDE: There’s beauty in spending time in solitude. Although some people think it’s sad and depressing, your solitude has the potential to reveal things about yourself. One example is your creativity. My solitude during this pandemic has created the space for me to be a lot more creative. I’m pushing myself in ways that I never knew I was capable of doing. I’m encouraged to take more risks and work with my fear instead of against it. Imagine what may flourish in your life if you embrace your solitude instead of running away from it.
ACCEPTANCE: Acceptance relinquishes our need for control. As much as some of us need to feel in control, it’s not possible for us to be in control all the time. In fact, it’s not healthy. Sometimes we have to follow and not lead because we don’t have all the answers. Sometimes we have to let go of what’s no longer working instead of trying to force things to work, and sometimes we have to give in; even if it makes no sense. Those are all lessons in acceptance. The world was not created for us to know it all, control it all, or to fix it all and that’s a lesson within itself.
PATIENCE: I struggle with this at times because patience can sometimes feel like a waste of time. I’m being honest. It’s especially worse when I’m waiting in line at a store. But the frustration it builds inside me, when I can’t do anything about how slow or fast the line moves, has taught me to surrender and be patient. When I submit to patience, I notice a shift in my mood almost instantaneously. It’s almost calming. That’s what we have to do during this pandemic be patient because we have no other choice.
These lessons and practices are imperative because who knows how much longer we will be like this. If it’s been exceptionally difficult for you to be still, patient, accept change, or any of the above. Challenge yourself and step outside your comfort zone. Go against your own grain, and explore what’s waiting for you on the other side. Keep in mind that these lessons are not just applicable to the pandemic. These are life long lessons and practices that you will use throughout your life and in any adversities. Challenges also occur outside a pandemic, they happen all the time and in many different forms. Despite how you choose to navigate through the rest of 2020, just remember that you are resilient. If any of us are lucky to make it out of this pandemic alive and healthy it’s a testament to what we are all capable of.
I’m encouraging all of us to practice some form of emotional self-care. I provide a list of self-care practices that we can all benefit from in my weekly self-care challenge blog post. They’re small tools and practices that we can use to exercise our emotional self-care muscle and enhance our wellbeing. Our wellbeing is such an important component in our life. It’s the main tool that we use to navigate through challenges but it’s not used often enough. Neglecting this side of us, has unfortunately created space for some of us to be reactive instead of proactive, hide behind fear and low self-esteem, and become completely oblivious to opportunities that are placed in our lives to help us grow into the best versions of ourselves. I encourage all of us to use the opportunities given to us during this pandemic to work on our wellbeing.
What lessons have you learned from COVID-19? Let’s Chat!