In the midst of the pandemic, where few things are normal, I believe we’ve all been offered an alternate perspective from which to view our lives. Being quarantined, our worlds become much smaller, and our habits much more evident. Perhaps you are even feeling stirred having this opportunity to better recognize your coping strategies, or the communication within your relationships, or your social connections, or your consumption of commercial products. If we can allow ourselves to take a long, hard look, there is the possibility of good to still come out of this tragedy.
First, I think we must all acknowledge that likely our emotions are heightened. Perhaps even your rest is disturbed? As we look deeper into these recognitions for potential change we must also take that step back to ask what grounds us. Rash decisions of change aren’t really that valuable if they aren’t aligned to our desired life or don’t come from a place of grounding. Often rash changes made out of emotional reaction won’t be sustainable once the emotional stimulus subsides.
Alright, let’s talk about coping strategies. I know in counseling this is primarily what is lacking for most individuals – coping strategies that are beneficial and move one’s life in a positive direction. What has brought you the most comfort during this pandemic? Your intimate relationship? Your friends and family? Food? Exercise? Your pets?Nature? Your job? Social media or television? Sleep? Your hobbies? What do you lean into to cope with the stress? Recognizing what you are doing can help you determine if it’s what you want to be doing. And, if it’s not, what alternatives you are willing to try that, while possibly uncomfortable at first, may prove more fulfilling in the long run.
Do you have a social support network? What I mean is, who are you checking in on and who is checking in on you? Maybe you’re seeing you are trying to save the world and the groves of others you care about? Maybe you are realizing how much you’ve isolated yourself from others? The idea here is not only balance but fulfillment. We all have different needs when it comes to human connections. Perhaps being quarantined has given you insight into what is overwhelming or lacking with regard to your engagement with others? Maybe this is the time to ponder how you might either take that step back or take that step forward so that you can find a balance that serves your life? What could you ask of yourself that feels like an attainable first step?
Are you quarantined with others? How’s that going? How do those other people feel about what is happening? How do those people express their emotions? What do they need to feel fulfilled and safe? How well are you able to listen to what their words and actions are saying? Are you able to set aside your needs to invest in theirs? How easy or difficult is that for you? It’s okay to be honest about this as this really is the key. How comfortably can you give? This is not about being able to meet all of their needs but rather just being able to acknowledge them.
Let’s talk about consumption, be it of food or products. Any new discoveries there? I’ve certainly uncovered a few things. For starters, I was using more than I actually needed to accomplish my personal health and home cleaning jobs. Also, I realized that I was able to purchase washable items that will, also in the future, allow me to generate less waste. Not to mention that in my search for supplies I came across some new brands and ordering platforms that proved satisfactory and, in some cases, to be even better than what I was using before. These small changes, such as ordering a 12 pack of washable table napkins, make me feel more in tune and responsible in the world around me. This step forward allows me to prompt myself to ask what else is possible. How else can I do my part for the good of our planet?
In some ways, this pandemic has asked us to own our lives. It can be easy to convince ourselves that our lack of motivation is because of the quarantining, but honestly, chances are you were struggling long before that. Now is the time to cultivate that awareness and begin to do something about it so we are not continuing to compound our suffering. There is no right way to do this, really, so be gentle with yourself as you notice these areas in your life. Celebrate what is thriving and lean into it for support as you begin to take steps to address other areas of your life that need momentum.