I don’t have to tell you that we’re now charting completely new territory for an unknown amount of time. Many of us working from home are craving connection but we don’t want to get sucked into the abyss of negativity and fear and worry and non stop scrolling. A lot of us are already there. There are millions of amazing classes and offers out there that we feel like we should be signing up for.
Free dance classes!
Free fitness classes!
Free workshops (yep, I led one last week)!
Free lesson plans for the new homeschooling parents!
Discounts on web design!
Discounts on someone to review your golf swing!
The noise is endless.
And that’s just a tiny portion of the messages we’re all getting from external sources - yesterday I was receiving lots of critical internal “suggestions” swimming around in my head…
When are you going to finish your taxes?
Why don’t you read that book that you’ve been wanting to read?
Why aren’t you exercising?
Why haven’t you gotten outside yet?
Why aren’t you relaxing more?
Wouldn’t this be a good time to master the art of Crockpot cooking?
You still haven’t called back those 3 people?! Come on!
Why haven’t you unpacked from your move yet - what are you waiting for?!
You should be emailing those people - you’ve missed your window!
And I was yoyo-ing back and forth between wanting to sign up for absolutely every online offer I saw or go cold turkey and delete all social media for my own sanity. The “productive”, overdoing part of me was spinning out. The illusion that I could control work things in a way I couldn’t control anything else in my life was an oh-so-tempting invitation. I was desperate to feel better (and productive! Helpful! Of service! Needed! Like I was really earning this privilege to be able to work from home while others are on the front lines or out of jobs or sick!). No amount of scrolling or overworking was gonna do the trick. Dammit.
And then I remembered. When I experience stress, my historical pattern is for my internal engine to rev up quickly into DOERS overdrive! It’s fast, it’s chaotic, there are lots of SHOULDS in there. My mind is racing all over the place, and no matter how fast I type, or how many cups of coffee I drink, or how many browser tabs I have open, or how many meals I forget to eat, I don’t feel like I’m getting anything done. And of course when I’m in that spot, it’s next to impossible to sleep at night. An angry little inner critic voice promises me that the more I DO the more I can... control my environment, avoid feeling my fear about all that’s going on now and all that might happen, and the more “helpful” I’ll be to others. And of course NONE of these things are true!
I'm not the only one trying to outDO the uncertainty - a couple of clients have admitted that they've been working more hours in the last 10 days than they usually do. I saw a study the other day that said the same thing.
So how did I transform yesterday’s chaos into feeling centered today?
I took a walk outside. Engaging with all five senses outside brought me back to the now, back into BEING. My boyfriend and I walked around the neighborhood and we picked out our favorite houses and told each other what we liked about each one. Today I realized the WiFi works in the backyard. That’s where I’m working from right now!
I got goofy. After I could see how ridiculously serious I was being, I called a couple of friends that I knew I could laugh with. Humor is such a wonderful bridge of reconnection. We also watched standup comedy last night.
I took a shower. I realized that I had neglected some pretty basic self care because “I was too busy.” Prioritizing me filled up my tank more than I realized it would. Seems like a no-brainer but when we’re in that survival mode / reptilian brain stress it’s almost impossible to prioritize.
Break it into smaller pieces. Instead of thinking about what you’re going to do in a month (I can go down the ol’ rabbit hole of where we’ll be living this summer pretty darn easy!), I think about what would be delicious for dinner. That’s it.
I shared my real feelings. I got vulnerable with some folks yesterday and shared the feelings I’d been trying my best to avoid. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t packaged, It was honest and real. It gave them permission to share how they were feeling with me too. This time is scary and completely new (I loved Brene Brown’s recent podcast on this - here’s the link). And because we don’t know how long we’ll be living in this fear and uncertainty, what do we have to lose by telling each other the truth?
I'd love to know how you're really doing right now either in the comments or in a private message. We’re all navigating a boatload of big feelings in this moment of uncertainty.