At this point, it has been a few weeks and I’m still having trouble fully processing everything that is going on right now. There’s a lot of uncertainty about what will happen in the next few months around the world, and for most of us, our lives have been disrupted in a way that we haven’t really experienced before.
Despite being an optimist, I don’t find it productive to attempt forced feelings of positivity during a crisis. While I might have tried to do that in the past, I’m now focusing more on trying to just feel what I’m experiencing at this moment and not push those feelings away too quickly.
That, and ice cream helps. Let’s just say my friends Ben and Jerry are the only two other people outside of my household that I haven’t been following social distancing protocol with during this time.
I am the furthest thing from a medical professional one could possibly imagine, so I will be leaving those particular thoughts to the more qualified. With that being said, there are things I’ve been working through, things that might help us see some light during this darker-than-expected timeline. When it comes to owning our attention and being human, I have some pretty decent credentials—so let’s start there.
Here are some thoughts I’d like to share, in no particular order. Shared with the hope they will help us all navigate this time together.
During times of uncertainty, we’ll always want more information.
We’ve long ago reached peak information—the point where the information that exists in the world is far beyond our ability to consume it all. It is now an endless, exponentially growing supply of words, videos, posts, and pictures.
Heck, pick a single website and you’d be hardpressed to get through all the content at this point.
It is human to seek answers, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But it is inhuman to consume information 100% of the time. It is essential to limit our information intake in a thoughtful way during times like these—ranging from either taking an hour completely off to limiting it to an hour in its entirety.
We need space to process our thoughts, feelings, and the information we collect along the way.
The Twitch gets much stronger during these times.
I’ve found myself picking up my phone and checking things more now than I have in a long time. Texts, Instagram, the stock market, emails, literally anything. Maybe it’s a fear of missing something—some critical information that I’d not have otherwise. Maybe it’s the belief that the more I know the safer I’ll be.
The problem is that it very clearly makes me feel worse, yet it’s so hard to avoid. The things that have helped are analog activities such as music, walking, short meditations, and just about anything not on a screen. Start breaking away in small ways and see how you can adapt.
A disrupted life is a powerful time for personal change.
It is really, really hard to be “creative” during a time of deep stress and uncertainty. My thoughts go down a few levels toward the necessities—food, water, the health of my loved ones, money, and trying to figure out what will happen with all of this.
Once I had time to feel the anxiety of those thoughts for a while, some other things set in. I started thinking about all the things I couldn’t do now and regretted not doing those things more. Hanging out with new friends here in Arizona, going to events and gatherings, freely walking about the grocery store without wondering if I’d be able to buy toilet paper…
In a way, this forced-simpler-life is making me take a hard look at the priorities I’ve set up to this point and question the things I deemed necessary.
For the last two years, I’ve relied heavily on a gym membership to maintain my healthy habits. It was the transitional act of going to the gym each day that helped me maintain the actual workout habit. Suddenly, I’m learning that I’m capable of actually doing workouts at home relatively consistently.
Sure, there was a dip when we chose to stop going to the gym—however, I’ve been able to work back up to it. It may be a small distinction, but it’s still worth noting.
It is when the status quo has been immeasurably disrupted that we see most clearly what we’re capable of and what actually matters most to us. That is a powerful perspective to have—and one we should not take for granted.
Seeking new ways to obtain the familiar helps.
When I got more into healthier eating and began tracking daily calories, I started learning more about making the foods that I loved, but in healthier ways. Either by reducing the overall calories in the meal or substituting healthier ingredient options.
If you didn’t know already, I have a big sweet tooth—which is a nice way of saying “sugar addict”. I especially love cookies—and I’ve found an easy way to make healthier protein cookies that, enjoyment wise, are 90% of the way there.
While it may not be quite as good as the real thing, it’s helpful to do the same thing with other areas of life right now. I’ve been getting on Zoom video calls with family, working and meditating several times per day on video calls with Break the Twitch community members, and even doing virtual video workouts with a couple of friends across the country.
It’s definitely not all of what I need as an extrovert during this time of social isolation, but it helps ease the pain of feeling incredibly disconnected. Looking for small ways to do this in your life, to feel a sense of normalcy and familiarity will be helpful as we navigate this time.
There is always opportunity in uncertainty.
I don’t mean the opportunity to “take advantage” of the situation in a sleazy way. That’s gross. I mean simply seeing things for what they are and looking for the gift in the storm. It might be an opportunity to call someone you haven’t talked to in a long time. An opportunity to offer a skill or talent you have that would help someone else substantially. An opportunity to reprioritize just about any aspect of life.
As bad as things seem, we can feel the “bad” authentically, see opportunities, all while reassessing the situation and growing as a result.
We don’t need to pretend like the uncertainty we face is some magical happy time—it’s okay to feel that as it is. The cult of constant positivity is not one I care to join. But we can look for ways to find familiar, turn inward during this time of isolation, and come out stronger through a difficult situation.
Thank you for doing what you can to help keep the threads of daily life together in both small and large ways each day. We’ll get through this together.