What we have in common…

To say these last few weeks have been grueling is a huge understatement. Life as we know it has been turned upside down, thrown into a global blender and turned on to ‘crush’ mode. 

We’ve been launched into the great unknown where fear and uncertainty abound. It’s anyone’s guess what we’re going to come out of this with–or when. 

While I’ve been trying to sort through and metabolize my own feelings, I’ve also been having conversations with lots of different friends and clients about what they’re experiencing. 

Here are some common themes I’m seeing: 

It is really hard to focus right now. If you’ve found it unusually difficult to sit down to write, read, meditate, start a project or concentrate on any one thing in particular, you are not alone.  

Emotions are all over the place. If there was ever a time to use the description ‘emotional rollercoaster’, this is it. So many of us are experiencing a wide range of emotions, often within the span of a minute: one minute we’re up, feeling strong and hopeful; the next minute we’re sad, weepy and scared. There’s no particular order these feelings come in, but when they hit, they really hit. If you feel as though you could check off every single one of the faces on those cute little “feelings charts”, you are not alone.  

Exhaustion. Almost everyone I’ve talked to has reported feeling really tired. They can’t seem to get enough sleep. They’re having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. Some are napping for the first time ever. Others are wishing they could sleep this nightmare away. If you’ve been feeling draggy or lethargic, or if your sleep is all messed up, you are not alone. 

Unmotivated to do much of anything. Lots of people are saying how challenging it is to feel inspired or motivated right now. Just when there’s all this time to be productive, creative and tackle that long to do list….nope, not feelin’ it. If you’re experiencing this, you are not alone. (But hey, if you’re one of the inspired and productive ones, you go!!) 

Now is not the time for self improvement projects. I’m one of those people who thinks a crisis is a terrible thing to waste. I tend to look right away for the silver linings–I can even get a bit rah-rah-rah about it all. (Call me adorable. Or annoying.) When this pandemic first hit, I admit I got swept up in all the flurry on the internet to use this time to ‘Create a new habit!’ ‘Get in shape at last!’ ‘Get organized!’ ‘Write a book!’ ‘Become the best version of yourself!’ 

But from where I’m sitting right now….ain’t gonna happen. If you find yourself less than enthusiastic about working out, unable to get your creative juices flowing or honestly could give a flip about becoming your best self, you are not alone. 

We’re in the midst of a massive wake up call and the bottom line is, we are ALL being asked to SLOW DOWN and KEEP THINGS REALLY SIMPLE.

How can we do this? 

Here are 10 easy ‘pandemic practices’ to help you navigate these next weeks and months: 

• Be where your feet are. This is a simple way of saying: stay in the present moment. Let go of what’s happened in the past and stay out of forecasting the future. Easy to say, not so easy to do but living in yesterday or tomorrow is a recipe for despair and worry. All we have is right now. This moment, this hour, this day. (Don’t tell anyone, but this has always been the case, pandemic or otherwise.)  

• Meditate. This is the most important time you can spend in your whole day.  Even if it’s hard to focus–especially if it’s hard– spend time doing some kind of meditation. If you don’t like to meditate, then sit in silence doing nothing for 10-20 minutes. Why? It’s one of the best and fastest ways to calm your nervous system and refuel yourself. 

• Feel the ground underneath you.  This might sound woo woo but in times of overwhelm and great uncertainty, there’s nothing like connecting with the ground. Whether you’re sitting, standing, walking or lying down, feel the support of the ground underneath you. It’s the one place you can always count on.

• Be exceptionally gentle with yourself (and others).  Drop the ‘shoulds’ and the shame about all the ways you’re not showing up well, all the things you’re handling poorly, all the stuff you have no interest in doing. Treat yourself as your best friend would. Ask yourself “How can I be with myself during this time in a way that feels loving and kind?”    

• Lean into the things and people that are uplifting. By this, I don’t mean ignore your feelings and pretend that everything is just dandy. It isn’t. I mean be mindful of where and how you spend your energy. Engage in conversations, movies, podcasts, books or projects that enliven you. Conversely, do what you can to minimize (or eliminate) the things and people that drain you. This is a critical time to set healthy boundaries and practice radical self care.  

• Let yourself feel all your emotions. We’re in messy, incomprehensible and hard times and our emotions are all over the map. Instead of trying to be cavalier or stuffing them down (which only increases their intensity and the likelihood they’ll spew out sideways), allow your feelings to move through you. It’s ok to be sad, angry, fearful, overwhelmed, worried or freaked out. It’s also ok to feel hopeful and decide to lean into your faith about what’s next. Talk with your friends and be real about what you’re experiencing. Remember, everyone else is needing to talk about their feelings too.   

• Spend time outside and move your body every day. Go for a walk, ride your bike, rake leaves, sweep off your porch. Put your hands in the dirt. Plant something. Simple acts bring satisfaction and help us feel (sort of) normal. And movement of any kind is good for the soul.      

• Reach out and touch someone (keeping your 6′ distance!) There’s no better medicine than helping someone else. It could be something as simple as offering to get groceries, picking up someone’s mail or calling a neighbor to say hello. One tiny gesture can be the highlight of someone’s day. Every single person on the planet has been impacted by this crisis so there’s no shortage of people to help. Healing happens when we help one another. 

• Make a list of the people in your life who love and support you (and whom you love and support). Your friends, family, mentors, truth tellers and human angels. Even if some of them are no longer alive, add them to your list. Carry this with you for the next several weeks and feel all the love and support you have in your life, wherever you go.   

• Keep a sense of humor.  Without humor, we are lost. If you’ve misplaced your sense of humor–or never had one in the first place– find someone who does! Humor allows us to have perspective and to hold things lightly. God knows we need that right now.  

The irony, of course, is that when you slow down, keep things really simple and practice these easy ways of being, amazing things start to happen. Your energy returns, you feel more resilient, creative juices start flowing and, before you know it, you’re flowering into the best version of yourself.  

So what if, while we’re navigating this extraordinarily tough and tender time, we embrace this chance to recalibrate ourselves so we’re better prepared for what awaits us on the other side?  

By slowing down and keeping it simple, we can build a better world for ourselves and each other. 

Stay safe and stay connected. I’d love to know how you’re doing. xo

P.S. I chose to talk in this bite about the themes I’m seeing. Rest assured, I’m also witnessing extraordinary acts of kindness and heroism every single day. So many beautiful things are being said and done, amazing ideas are being generated and there’s a real sense of people coming together to help one another. If you’d like to share any of the beauty and kindness you’re seeing in the world, please be in touch! I’ll share it in an upcoming Annie Bite.