I was going to write about my delayed midlife crisis. Delayed because unless I live to be over 120 years, it was not really ‘midlife’. Now, it seems silly to write about something that dwarfs in comparison to what I have been feeling and experiencing. The onslaught of this global pandemic is now in our own backyards.
Stuck in Limbo
Because of quarantine, perhaps like many of you, I stopped being my usual productive and engaging self. Yes, I reached out to my ‘essential’ clients and offered to help. Yes, I reached out to my Jewish community, my women’s leadership community, and my not-for-profit community.
I offered to do what I do best – help others thrive through change and transition. And yet, I stopped taking care of myself. I felt a bit frozen in my own isolation.
Without a work schedule and my usual activities – swimming, strength training, and yoga sangha – I felt alone. Thank goodness I have my husband.
I don’t mind being alone. However, when it is other directed rather than self-selected, day in and day out, it does not serve me. Being at home is a challenge as I know it is for so many.
After about three weeks of staying home, time no longer keeps the same way. I sometimes don’t know what day it is. Each day simply begins at sunrise and ends at sundown.
I have walked a little, rode my bike a little, meditated with yoga a little, baked a lot and made many, many pots of soup. Plus, I binge-watched all the episodes of Game of Thrones.
For some, this can be considered productive. For me, I was simply going through the motions without real engagement and focus. And I wasn’t sleeping. As soon as I laid my head down on the pillow, anxious thoughts began to pour in.
My Facts and Truths
Let me begin by sharing that I am a hypochondriac. Needless to say, feeling unwell for two days and having chest pain had me worrying that I had been infected with the coronavirus. Thankfully, my worry was unfounded.
My psychology training and time spent in therapy have taught me that my worry is based on a cognitive distortion of my reality. But knowing does not make the worry go away.
I have also been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, which makes me experience difficult times on a far greater scale. Overwhelmed is my constant state of being these days. Add this to me being a naturally social person and you will get the whole picture.
Over the last few weeks, I have been challenged to find and lean on my strengths in a real and honest way. Following Brene Brown I have named my fears, given them a voice, and took away their power over me. Now I am walking alongside them.
I am showing up each day and being present. And I’m acknowledging all my accomplishments, no matter how small.
My 13 Positive Psychology Steps
So, this is what I have started to do – use evidence-based positive psychology tools and strategies:
- Each day before I get up, I say out loud three things I am grateful for and set my daily intention.
- Put a limit to the amount of news I consume with a cutoff at 8:00pm. I do plan on listening to Governor Andrew Cuomo as he has replaced George Clooney as my imaginary boyfriend; and Dr. Fauci, our infectious disease expert.
- Limit my caffeine intake later in the day, though I was worried I could no longer order my favorite espresso.
- Work out as many times a day as needed as sometimes once is not enough.
- Keep a schedule or routine, though fluidity is my friend now.
- Use the five senses grounding technique to mitigate my anxiety.
- Allow myself no more than 10 minutes at a time to worry.
- Be okay with not being okay.
- Meditate in small increments.
- Dance around my house because no one is watching.
- Learn in lockdown – I am teaching myself piano and learning new coloring book techniques.
- Always look for ways to be of service to others.
- I’m also getting back to my coaching and training business, now with the tagline of ‘thriving through change and transition’. I haven’t been thriving much lately, and that is ok. I will continue to do the work of fostering connection, caring for others, and creating results.
Perhaps like many of you, I was lost the last few weeks, but now I have found my way back. As Governor Cuomo addresses NYS with strength, stamina, and stability, I too will lean on my foundation of the same – without discarding my cloud of concern for myself, my family, my friends, my community, and the world.
How has the coronavirus shutdown impacted you personally? Have you had to change your schedule, your way of thinking, your way of doing things? Have you found resilience in you to recognize your fears, address them, and start walking alongside them? Please share with all of us, and let’s have a discussion!