While the world is collectively working hard to stave off and keep others safe from infection and fever, many of us are now also at risk of catching another serious and potentially life threatening fever.
This is the type of fever which challenges your sense of worth. Wreaks havoc with your mental stability. Crushes your rational thought processes. Has you inventing reasons to visit the supermarket even though you’ve got a fully stocked house. It can cause you to be irritated with your partner for paying you a compliment, or incessantly opening the fridge hopeful that a magical delicious calorie-free brownie will appear.
If you are struggling with the enormous changes that are happening in the world today, you are far from alone. However, despite your hands being metaphorically tied, there are certain things that can help you to deal with the crisis you may be currently facing.
The internet is now flooded with “how to” and “where next” guides for COVID-19 survival. At risk of adding to the noise on this subject, I want to share with you the silver linings that I have already discovered from my perspective (a Sydney-based coach, wife, and mother) during this uncertain and isolating time. Below are some of the ways I have been able to ‘transcend the walls’ and find a greater sense of freedom during COVID-19 while remaining locked in my cabin.
Discover the gifts that COVID-19 brings to you
It is clear that the world as an entity is being called upon to learn some big, deep lessons. Apart from the fact that the skin on your hands is falling off from over-sanitising and your friends now only seem to exist as pixilated images on a screen, the challenges of COVID-19 have already brought about some major gains to the world’s ecosystem. The extremely challenging travel restrictions in place that have taken away our planes, trains and shopping centres, while clearing our social calendars for months, have seen the world’s climate reap the benefits. The fact that certain parts of the dying world are now beginning to flourish also reveals our potential as a community when we act in unity and with love and compassion.
But, there is something in this for you, individually, too. As with all challenging times in life, there is always something you can learn about yourself which can make you stronger, happier and more fulfilled. If approached from the right perspective, a life challenge or a crisis may become a stepping stone to one of your greatest successes.
‘Challenges are what makes life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful’ –Buddha
Ask yourself (and keep asking if you don’t get an immediate answer), what is the gold that COVID-19 has brought to my life? What is the extremely challenging and powerful lesson that I am being called upon to learn – a stepping stone to a more meaningful life?
Some of us have already experienced the benefits of greater family connections being forged as a result of working from home. Others have reported that being off the merry go round has helped them to see that their priorities were previously muddled and in need of an overhaul. There will also undoubtedly be persons out there who have already realised that the things they depended on, the things they ‘couldn’t live without’ (like a serious latte habit or beer o’clock with their colleagues), were actually more of a road block to their joy than they were a pathway to happiness.
Be an opportunist
None of us were prepared for, or could have predicted, that we would be locked at home. But since this is where we find ourselves, think about how you can make the most of this situation and the opportunities that it presents.
What can you create in this moment that you otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity to create if you were still running back and forth to that full-time job? What hobbies have you always wished you had more time to focus on? Maybe you can enrich your life right now by starting some positive rituals like daily yoga or meditation. Or perhaps it’s time to start that course you’ve always wanted to do but have been putting off because you never had the time. Or is it time to get fit and healthy? Maybe you can establish a regular exercise habit and learn how to better nourish yourself?
How can you use this time to make some positive, lasting changes to your life?
This might be the best time in your life to do some of those things on your ‘if I only had more time’ list.
I have been able to identify multiple opportunities through my rose-coloured lenses. But the best one came out of my biggest disappointment. This is a time where I was supposed to be embarking on the trip of a lifetime. Travelling for six months around Italy and other parts of Europe with my family. The cancellation of our extensively and carefully planned trip was a hard pill to swallow. However, instead of making history at the Trevi Fountain, we are making the most of lockdown to contribute to the savings we had already accumulated for our (cancelled) trip, which we will use on upgrading our Sydney apartment to a big family house. An exciting new project to focus on, instead!
Slow down and realign
We’ve all been so busy for so long. Think about how many times you hear the answer “I’ve been so busy” or “Just lots of work” to the question “How have you been?”.
Few of us stop to think about how this ‘busyness’, our frenetic lifestyles, affects the outcomes we see (or don’t see) in our lives. At a time when all the ‘busyness’ has been stripped away – the filling of social calendars for months in advance and squeezing in appointments, hobbies, bills, life admin and maybe some exercise around work and family – it’s likely there will be many of us now facing a huge, empty, perhaps uncomfortable space.
Rather than seeing this as a loss – a negative – a shift in your perspective may turn it into a blessing. Another opportunity. An opportunity that allows you to pause, stop, and the permission to breathe. A place to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Ask powerful questions. Did you like the direction your life was going in? Were you really happy? If not, what was getting in the way of you being happy?
Finally, if none of this has resonated with you so far and you still find yourself reeling from the shock of COVID-19 – maybe you’re stuck at home with three kids to home school and a full-time job with little to no support from anyone – know that you have full permission to feel the bundle of difficult emotions that may be coming up for you right now. This is no ordinary time! And, if learning a new language, clearing the closet or taking up a new hobby feels like a mammoth and unachievable task, that’s ok too. It’s important to be forgiving of ourselves. And to grant the permission to achieve less than what our expectations would otherwise have us doing.
If you feel like this is where you sit on the cabin fever scale of COVID-19, there are still a couple of other small things you can do from today that may help you to manage any unhelpful feelings or thoughts of entrapment. One simple step is a daily journal. Describe what you’re feeling and your daily challenges (or highlights) during this uncertain time. This can be a powerful way to let go of any anxiety or frustrations you are feeling. It can also help you to order your thoughts and get clearer on what you want to achieve.
Secondly, be grateful. Find everything that you can be grateful for. Write it down, focus on it and embody it. Continue to revisit this place of gratitude whenever you feel swamped by the emotional rollercoaster.
A powerful moment for us
So, while it may feel like COVID-19 has stolen our freedoms, leaving us to suffer alone in our cabins, this is also a powerful moment in all of our lives. It’s an opportunity to relinquish the chains we have (unconsciously) attached to ourselves. We can explore our innermost freedoms that will allow us to be truly happy (beyond our Facebook and Instagram posts).
Life will never be the same again. Through acceptance of what is, we can build stronger communities and create pathways to a greater freedom we have never before travelled.
‘Angel Wings’ photo by DesignEcologist – Unsplash
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