COVID-19 Is Here. Ideas For Approaching The New Normal

a woman sitting in a chair looking out a window.

As it is said, we spend time worrying about things that don’t really matter. The big shifts, the life-changing events are frequently things that you didn’t see coming.

And so here we are. At a moment of change.

I’m feeling it, you’re feeling it, and I wanted to take a moment to share some ideas for managing in this time, looking — as always — for a silver lining in a challenging transition.

Here are five ideas. I hope you find them useful.

1. Savor the basics. I’m anticipating a period of unknown and lack of structure, as you are. As a mother of four children, I’m about to turn into Julie McCoy, creating a schedule to keep them engaged. I’ve printed a good recipe to make challah, and am planning on lots of scavenger hunts. Movies, card games, reading, putting on plays…that’s what will be happening in my home for the foreseeable.

I rarely do these things. I’m usually running to this or that. I rarely bake with my kids and my cooking is typically done solo. I’m about to change all of that, slow down and work collaboratively to just do the basics of life with the people I care for.

I am going to slow down, be with the people I want to be with, and savor our moments together. We’re about to have a lot of them; this will be a time we all remember.

To practice savoring, try this classic raisin meditation from Jon Kabat-Zinn. The goal is to help you slow down and see that which you may overlook. Or, if you are prepared to ponder your fork, candlesticks or chandelier, check out The Elements of A Home. This wonderful book was just published by a client, and will help you look at the elements in your home with new appreciation.

This is a time to simplify, return to basics and appreciate simple things.

2. Fill your cup. This is a time to do more sleeping, napping, relaxing. You want that immune system in working order, battling all this cortisol that’s peaking. Sleep. Nap. Cuddle. Rest. Laugh. Repeat. Restore the body and mind.

So yes, break out the good soap and bubble bath, eat on the good china. Whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, do it.

I’m going to be using the Calm app, Yoga Today, online workouts. Lots of people will hit their Peloton. I’m going to return to an old favorite book, Man’s Search for Meaning, and find some good stand up to watch. And I plan to get great sleep.

We have to take even better care of ourselves now. It’s non-negotiable.

3. Work toward 60-80%. A very high-achieving client shared this idea in our session this week and I loved it. Her work is being significantly impacted by the virus, and her boss gave the team the good advice of “Strive for 80%. We’re not going to get this perfect. Good enough is good enough.”

Given that he was speaking to a room of Type A plusses, this was a very generous directive.

We are not going for perfection now. We are going for good enough. This has been a parenting philosophy meme for a time now (yes, mostly focused on mothering), and I’ve had clients reject it out of hand.

This is not a time to strive for perfection in anything. It’s a time for going easy on ourselves; a time for good enough.

4. Take turns with anxiety. We’re all going to feel peaks and valleys of anxiety now. That’s to be expected. I bumped into an old friend who covers the Final Four, and he let me know how he now has no work, and the ten freelancers who work for him has no work, and…and…and. You can see how this will snowball.

I was glad to see him, but our quick chat was only going to exacerbate his (in the retelling) and my (in the learning) anxiety. No good could come from the anxious storytelling we were doing; much of this is beyond our control. I tried to shift the conversation to the businesses that will grow, or even begin at this time, and the opportunities for people to come together.

If you feel yourself building anxiety, let yourself feel it, get it out, and move on from it. Don’t live it in, and by all means don’t work to create more anxiety. Let the members of your home take turns feeling it, retreating from it, and soothing it.

Here are ideas from the Greater Good Science Center on how we can protect our mental health at this time.

5. Feel the connection. I went to my (empty) gym this morning and I realized that I needed that workout because I needed familiarity. I needed to see the same people in the same place; a return to a structure.

Then I headed to the grocery store, with the strained smiles and gallows humor. Some people chatty about toilet paper and “time to blow the diet”, while others were visibly stressed and scared. We were feeling the feels, together, each in our own way.

Perhaps, more than ever before, our globe is feeling a challenge at the same time. And recognizing how hyperconnected we are, united by this challenge.

We don’t know the answers, the duration, the magnitude. But my clients, from China to San Francisco, Sweden to Montclair, NJ, Costa Rica to New Zealand — we are all united in this moment.

Now, more than ever, we can see and feel the power of our connection. As we fear and retreat from the connection, let us also share the hope, endurance and fortitude of our shared humanity.

Let yourself be awed by the beauty and fragility of life. Here’s one of my favorite happiness practices, The Awe Walk.

As always, I am here if I can be of service to you. Reach out; I’m here for you. 

For the duration, I will be conducting all coaching sessions online.

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