Got change? Drink this.
And no… I don’t mean whiskey :)
“The Great Pause” (or the Household Pressure Cooker) has brought HUGE changes for most of us. For me it brought a COVID-induced crash landing in Ohio from hard hit New York City.
I was sad to flee NYC after just 6 months, but COVID has been less disruptive for me personally than for many others. Partly based on luck — partly because I’m an old hack by now at massive life change and serendipity. Case in point I’ve lived in 10 cities, 8 states and 5 countries — with multiple moves in between. My last two years are like an offbeat mind bender coauthored by John Irving, Michael Chabon and Haruki Murakami. Or a solid set of stand-up comedy.
As a massive life change veteran, I wanted to share some learnings for those of you feeling strained by the disruption. Take what’s useful and toss the rest, along with those pesky waves of stress and anxiety:
- Set a vision — even if it’s blurry. When life throws curve balls you need to keep your eyes on the prize to stay focused. Long-term goals don’t have to be set in stone (I know I struggle there), but you can aim in a general direction while striving to hit concrete markers. Sometimes seeing the next step is all you need to climb the whole ladder.
- Create structure, practices and routines. Changed or relaxed external structures can lead to real or felt unraveling. Structures etc can be external or internal, and if they’re new to you you’ll likely need engage some trial and error.
- Make a point to do things that give you energy. This is critical since there are so many restrictions and risk factors for helplessness and isolation. Old or new hobbies, ramping up your exercise routine, virtual performances, game nights and dance parties — consider this an opportunity to get creative.
- Tame the stress dragon. Self-care (as in activities that promote your general well-being) are beneficial, as are practices shown to reduce stress specifically, like exercise, meditation, strong relationships and social support, and therapy.
- Get productive, if you’re not already. This is more than “keeping busy.” Find ways to genuine value — work-related or other. For example an online side hustle, learning a new skill, networking. This can also be a good time to take your relationship(s) to the next level. If you’re co-habitating, you probably have to!
Most of these tips are common sense. But simple isn’t easy and habits die hard for most humans. If you want to gain something from this reading, I suggest you declare and commit to one or two things you’ll do differently, and be specific. Because COVID aside, change is always a given — be kind to yourself, and know that you are ready when you choose to be.