Today we’re tackling the challenge of self-isolation and figuring out how we’re supposed to be feeling during this time of incredible disruption.
Key Messages: Don’t feel ashamed for being anxious, don’t judge yourself for not being as “productive” as everyone you see on social media, & communicate with the people in your life
We’re touching on a few ideas in today’s episode:
Self-development mindset during a pandemic
Feelings of shame
Adding stress to an already stressful period
Living each day with intention
Ways of minimizing stress and anxiety
What Tom and Stu have been doing to keep sane during self-isolation.
If you are feeling optimistic about this new time you’re finding yourself with, there are a few things we recommend you to consider doing.
Meditation – now more than ever, it is so important to be mindful of the emotions you find yourself going through each day. Reach out to me, and I can share with you a free month of Sam Harris’ Waking Up app. It steps you through 10mins of daily mindfulness to help you better recognize the feelings we have as well as recognizing the noise within our minds. An important part of this approach, and one of the main reasons I like it so much, is that Sam encourages you not to judge yourself for becoming lost in thought or distracted. I’ve tried other forms of meditation in the past, and I felt shame at not being able to ‘do it’ whenever I’d realize that I didn’t just have a clear mind.
Get your ass moving – whether it’s a morning walk, yoga, or a home bodyweight workout like one of these, moving is good for the soul and good for your body.
Connect with friends – there is something about chatting online with someone that provides a greater opportunity to be vulnerable.
Skill up – if you’ve found yourself unemployed like me, with plenty of time on your hands, there are a multitude of online courses you can complete to build new skills that you can hopefully use in the future.
Get creative – easiest, and most enjoyable way to relax (again though, it comes back to what we were saying earlier about no judging yourself). It can become a form of meditation in itself, as many people find themselves getting lost in the process. The closest I come to finding flow, that period of your life where time seems to pass in a blur, when you have absolute concentration at the task at hand, is when I’m deep diving into a new creative project. I can find hours and hours have passed without so much as a break for the bathroom or food, and you just ‘come back’ to the present moment, it’s dark outside, you’re starving, and more often than not, I find that I have a small smile on my face from just having done something I find so enjoyable.
“Destroy the idea that you gotta be good at artistic things to enjoy them, that every hobby has to become smth you’re so good at, you can monitize it. A capitalist lie. Sing offkey, draw poorly, write badly. Life is meant to be enjoyed, not monetized. You’re not a product.” – @bookavid on Twitter
Learn a language – it’s good for your brain, your memory, your listening skills, and there’s a certain joy you get from being able to speak to someone in their native language.
Read a book – read lots of books. Develop the ability to dive into a story narrative, lose yourself in the character’s world; it’s good for your imagination, it’s amazing for your language abilities, and it’s just plain fun to do.
Just relax – whether you’re sitting in a hot tub drinking a beer, reclining in a chair watching the sunset, laying on the grass, napping on the couch or watching Netflix. Don’t let your internal stressors add to an already stressful period.
Become your own best friend; you spend the most amount of time in your life with yourself, so get comfortable with spending time by yourself. Learn what you like, dislike, how certain things make you feel, how you react to certain inputs and situations, where your interests lie, what thoughts go through your mind each day that you normally ignore by keeping busy with external stimuli.
Become better friends with your friends – once you’ve become your own best friend, seek to learn more about your own friends. Very quickly you’ll run out of surface-level conversation points as there aren’t any events to discuss, clubs to visit, relationship gossip to be had, and only so many Netflix shows to review. Start to ask questions about their childhood, their beliefs, their travel stories, what makes them nervous, what makes them sad, what makes them excited. Digital drinks – shouldn’t take a pandemic to connect like this
What Not To Do:
Read the news constantly
Spend all day on social media
Get into Facebook arguments with strangers (or people you know)
Judge yourself/feel ashamed for being anxious about the future
Spend all day worrying about the future
Mentally, you start to feel like a failure if you aren’t being as productive as you expect yourself to be. You feel pressured into setting these incredibly high expectations on your time, day after day, and then you feel disappointed in yourself for not achieving them. This then has the domino effect of destroying your motivation to even attempt the same thing as yesterday, and then after no time at all, your ability to concentrate and your self-control suffers. Finding yourself now working from home, in a new, disrupted environment; rather than being the boon to output and self-growth you thought it would be, you’ve found it to the exact opposite. You’re putting stress on yourself during a period that is already stressful. Give yourself time to work through the anxiety and find a new standard of normal within your own emotional state, before getting out there and trying to maximize every aspect of every day.
This period can be the most transformative of your life, or it could be the final straw that broke the camel’s back. I think it’s important to realize that we’re all finding ourselves thrust suddenly into an unfamiliar position, which has rocked our self-identities and our comfort zones completely out of balance. It seems cliche to say, but during this time, what I believe is the most important characteristic that should be defining our days is that of communication. Whether it’s related to your work, to your living situation, to your love life, to your emotional state or even just to a general feeling of apprehension, now is not the time to be holding your cards close to your chest. It won’t come easily to many of us, but then again, very little of this situation we’ve found ourselves in will come easily to us.
The fear of the unknown has pushed many of us to the limits of our emotional intelligence, and it’s easy to misinterpret any number of actions, words or feelings. To protect the relationships in your life, it’s so, so, so very important for you to be communicating clearly, consistently and freely with those around you. If you’re finding yourself butting heads with your family as you’re struggling to find your own slice of space within the confines of your apartment; if you’re noticing that you’re tolerance for the little annoying things your boyfriend or girlfriend does each day has fallen, and they’re not as cute as they used to be; if Susan or Mark from Marketing appears not to be pulling their weight at work, I implore you, have a conversation with them. It’s easy to get worked up in our minds about things that are happening around us without realizing that the basis for the annoyance might actually just be fictitious. Perhaps even Mark or Susan are struggling more than they’re letting on as they can’t seem to find the quiet they need to get work done because their kids are constantly screaming for attention.
Be very specific with how you’re feeling about the situation, and how it’s affecting you. Building trust through vulnerability is not only good for your relationships, but it’s good for your own mental health. Letting the people in your life know how you would like them to act, isn’t selfish, it’s not trying to change others, it’s given them an opportunity to better understand your character and providing them with the chance to show they truly care for you and your wellbeing.
In times of uncertainty, it’s easy to let our imagination get the better of us. We can be so focused on consuming media (whether news, social media or conspiracy theories by the guy you knew in High School who suddenly has access to the TRUTH being censored by mainstream media), that we forget to allow ourselves time to actually digest the situation we find ourselves in and develop our own thoughts, feelings and opinions on the subject. As with anything in life, a life of intention, regardless of what the intention is, should be strived for. Deciding to give yourself a break for not completing every home workout challenge you’re tagged in on Instagram; deciding that today you’re just going to unapologetically enjoy yourself by playing video games or binge-watching Tiger King on Netflix; or if you decide to smash out a To-Do list of all the new skills and abilities you want to learn during this time of self-isolation, that’s all on you. Don’t feel ashamed for living your life the way you live it. As long as you have intentionality in your decisions, I’m 100% in your corner for life. Life is going to be weird, it’s going to be tough, a new normal is going to be created. You don’t have to, and shouldn’t, try to face that alone. If you feel like you need a judgement-free space to talk to someone, I implore you to reach out to Tom or I.