Let’s travel back to December 2019: you’re stuck in morning traffic after last night’s snowfall, your sitter is sick, you have a full workday ahead and you are late to an important meeting. And it’s only 8am. You wonder how life could be so crazy, and daydream… If only you could work from home… Instead of being stuck in traffic, stuck in a cubicle, distracted by people who seem to have nothing better to do than interrupt when you should be working on your deadlines. Working from home? You’d have more time for family, less pressure, less distractions, less commute. It would be wonderful. Sigh. If only.
Fast forward to today: you’ve been working from home since the beginning of the pandemic, and everything you dreamed of, on that snowy morning almost a year ago? It’s right here, right now. Except it no longer feels as wonderful. You have no idea and no control over how long it might last; you feel crowded or lonely working from home, and working virtually didn’t reduce your work hours. You spend your days in virtual meetings and the commute has become work time. And this is the best-case scenario.
Some of your friends are not as lucky: their business is struggling, and for some, their job has simply disappeared under the pressure of physical distancing. They are worried, discouraged and feeling both overwhelmed and defeated. If this lasts, they say, they’ll lose everything.
So I’m not going to pretend it’s not happening, but let’s look at what you have and what choices you can make, to make your life a tiny bit easier.
First, don’t ignore half of the reality: if you’re healthy and safe, that’s an amazing start. If you can afford a roof and food on the table, you’re doing well. If today you can make even a few small choices that improve your quality of life, do them. What you do to take control and improve your quality of life, no matter how small, matters.
Here are a few suggestions that will help you get through this pandemic:
- Question your beliefs and attitudes about this pandemic and its consequences: for instance, believing that the world is on a downward spiral and that you have no choice? Not helpful, and not true. Question your beliefs; focus on what you can do within your circumstances. Initiative, not inertia, will get you where you want to be. Get started.
- Take better care of yourself, so you feel mentally and physically well and healthy. You are responsible for your choices, and whether you stay glued to TV news or take a walk in sunlight will have huge impacts on you. You decide. You choose. You live with the impacts.
- Reframe possibilities, every day, and make the most of them: what can you do to improve your day despite all the challenges? Look for unexpected opportunities and make the best of what is. Choose hope.
You can’t turn back the clock, erase the pandemic or pretend it doesn’t exist. You need courage, hope and determination, and believing that you will make it, and of course you will! One choice, one step, one day at a time. Start by asking yourself how you can make today feel better. Maybe you need to watch less news and get more walks, to set up a quiet space to work, to worry less and get more sleep. Maybe you need to start exploring new possibilities.
Acknowledge that you are going through a lot of unexpected change and that you are doing your best. You choose how you perceive a situation, and your perception powerfully impacts your emotions, your beliefs and your choices.
Sometimes, the best ideas and memories come from having to change plans and open up to dealing with what is. This pandemic is real; it’s become part of life and will change how you work and live. And this is what resilience is about: committing to thrive (instead of barely coping) in the real life circumstances we’ve all been given. You’ll make it, as long as you believe in yourself.