Hey, how are you doing?
How are you feeling? Worried? Anxious? Hurt? Do you have a loved one you wish you could see, are worried about? Have you lost your job? Are you trying to balance a job, being a parent and being a teacher? Is it all overwhelming? Are you taking time to focus on you? Do you have time to focus on you? Do you see others clearing out cupboards, organizing their lives and finishing all those jobs around the house they have been meaning to get to and are wondering, "how the fuck are they finding time for all of that?" The truth is, there is no right or wrong right now. There is no right or wrong way to be acting or reacting. People will feel, do and react to this in a multitude of different ways. The key is to know, you are not alone! Whatever feeling you have is being experienced all over and the purpose of this post is to reflect on some of this. Reflect on people who feel great, who feel bad, who feel anxious, who feel scared, who feel sad? There is no right or wrong way to be feeling right now. Everything is upside down and backwards and it is OK to feel like you are living in some sort of alternate reality. It's ok to have a great day and an awful day. To be happy one day and miserable the next. It’s OK to feel anxiety and stress it’s Ok to not feel any of this and in some ways feel at peace.
I am an introverted, extrovert. I have a big personality, want to see people and be social, so schedule lots of things, people think I naturally love social engagements and activities. I don’t. Which means, I want to plan lots and see people. I do love people, but I end up getting overwhelmed by not having enough downtime, I worry about missing out (FOMO) and not connecting but ultimately, if I am overscheduled I end up canceling to stay home. The intention and want is there, but when it comes down to it, I would rather be at home and decompress. I have anxiety. I have anxiety about social situations and gatherings. Who will I know? Who will I talk to? What will I say? Due to my job over the years I have learned to "cope" with this.
Covid-19 has given me more time to reflect on these feelings. Feelings I know I have but don't really get to exercise all the time. That is, not having to feel stressed about not wanting to do anything. I had already spent a great deal of time thinking about this during my maternity leaves. The balance of work and being at home. What has happened is, I have realized more and more that I really like being with my family, my husband and two boys. That being here at home with them is comfort to me. During this pandemic, I have enjoyed spending the day with my children (it is pretty structured on weekdays) and then zoom meeting, facetiming or "hanging" out with my friends and watching movies or shows with my husband in the evening and weekends. For me, It's the best of all worlds. I get to be at home with my family and then be social, catch up and reconnect with people I care about and don't see that often, WITHOUT leaving my house. It's easy, there is no battle between being here for my family and being there for my friends. Being present in a way I can’t always be when gatherings are in person. I am catching up with and reconnecting with people I haven't in ages, why is that? Video conferencing has always been around but made little use of. Probably because everyone was so busy being out, so busy being busy. WHo would be around for a video chat on a Saturday? Yes, my children make me crazy (They are 4 and 19 months!) and OH MY GOD are there days where I would love to reach for a strong drink very early in the day and just say, "mommy is not available right now" or "mommy is out". There are days where I am glad bedtime has arrived. Yes, I love my work and using my brain, but mostly during this I am thankful, thankful I can be with them, spend this time with them, thankful I know their personalities. Time that we don't get, time in ways we should cherish but under the circumstances find it hard to. I understand and appreciate this isn't the case for everyone. What is happening right now can make people feel anxious, trapped, frustrated. Some are better when they can work outside of their home, find space, get balance and thrive off of actually going out to social activities, being around people. But let's reflect on some of the positives. Employers are having to find more understanding and forgiveness when children appear in zoom meetings, people have families. Having to be more relaxed about attire, people can get work done in something other than suits. We are having to adapt in ways we didn't know we could. We are having to get creative and be nimble. No longer can they find excuses for work to not be done remotely. No longer can micro managers control in the same way. It has pushed some companies quicker than they had expected into the digital era. Shown other companies they can be more agile and get to market quicker.
The Balancing act-
Balancing working from home, parenting and teaching is tough and in many cases not a great situation, but remember, you're not alone, is anyone really making it work perfectly? This shift in "norm" has created anxiety in many and has left a lot of people without jobs and wondering, "what the hell am I going to do?". It has also left people re-evaluating what they do. Re-evaluating what is deemed “essential” work. Re-evaluating who is getting the big pay cheques. While this new norm has left me reaching for positives, being able to catch up with people I haven't spoken to in ages, because, all of a sudden I have "time", it's created so much uncertainty, and pain for so many, which leaves me feeling guilty. Guilty that I am thankful for this time with my young boys, thankful that I get to know them so much more, thankful that I can focus on what is important, that I can take a moment and breathe and reflect. Even extended family dinners seem more balanced, having to respect the rules of video conferencing and everyone being "present". No one disappearing from the table or running around serving people. Life is so chaotic. We are always moving from one thing to the next and worrying about how we are going to survive, we have families and then we miss out on it all, because we need to PROVIDE for those families! The grind is felt, especially if you don’t love what you do, or you do, but it consumes you, so has other impacts. No matter how you feel right now, this experience is changing us, changing us as a society. The way we emerge from this will be different.
These feelings are big and unknown. This is new territory. Reflect on this: What if you don't have to give all of yourself all of the time? If you don't have to be in the office to be “seen” to be known to be working? What if it is about what you produce and deliver vs if you are “seen”. What If you don't have to stay late to look like you are working hard? OR at least if you have to work late, having the freedom to eliminate the commute, or “break” for dinner with the family? What If you don't have to constantly proclaim how busy you are to be valued? What if leaders have to lead differently? In my opinion this is what this is doing to leadership and work right now. The people who felt they had to “see” you to know you are working, or felt they had to control all the aspects of their employees' days. The people who felt important by being in the office at all hours. Who were doing other people’s work instead of delegating or pushing back.
Let’s think about what we can take out of this, and what we can be grateful for right now? How can we make this situation work for us? This is the “Survival” part.
Start a gratitude journal and write 3-5 things every night that you are grateful for, things that make you happy.
Sign up for webinars, learn something new.
Stick with routine, get up, get showered GET DRESSED!
Do something to differentiate the days. Get dressed up on weekends, have theme nights, play games. Take some time to be outside, whether it is sitting on your deck/ front step drinking tea or coffee or walking around the block, GET OUTSIDE!
Take a moment for you, whether it is when the kids are in bed or first thing in the morning, breathe, watch a show, read an article, start a book, podcast, journal, even if it is 5 minutes.
Put some exercise into your routine, if it is watching a YouTube video over lunch, before you start your day, at the end of your day, find time, doesn't have to be every day or for even that long. It takes 21 days to start a habit!
Schedule time to chat to friends and family via any social medium you have.
Be kind, what can you do for someone? How can you help?
Reflect. What is different for you now. What will be different for you when this is done? What will you change? Have taken for granted?
Reduce and minimize news!
Reduce facebook and stop following certain groups and people, if they are making you more stressed or not adding to your day, cut back!
What is your reality during this and what will your reality be when it is done? What will you take with you from this and how will this change you?
Tomorrow will be a different day, something that will be hard to predict. There will be jobs, but those jobs will be different. Who knows where the economy will be, what businesses will survive and what won't. We will value different skills and see that more work can be done remotely.
So how will you emerge?
Stay Safe- Karen