We’re just about 6 weeks in to sheltering in place in Virginia, with another 7 or 8 weeks to go. Perhaps you’ve also started to notice how the days blur together – weekends and weekdays looking more alike, with little to differentiate the passing days.
This repetition has caused amplification. The little routines we adopted in the first days of quarantine have become ingrained habits. And with very close living quarters, little quirks and unique routines of our families and closest friends have become more visible.
That’s basically a really diplomatic way of saying that your family is probably starting to get on your nerves.
And if it’s not your family, perhaps it feels like there’s a spotlight on your workplace. You see communication breaking down, redundancies and inefficiencies in the system, or things that just aren’t working for you or for your colleagues.
There’s now a magnifying glass on our lives, both because we’re spending so much time with our families and because of the underlying tension and uncertainty of this situation. It takes ENERGY to remember to not touch your face, to use your face mask, and to not get too close to other people. We’re having to repress so many natural impulses. With our energy diverted to these basic needs, the pre-frontal cortex, rational mind that usually brushes off disturbances can’t anymore.
It might seem like a bad thing. The same way that beginning meditation practitioners often wonder if they’re thinking MORE now that they’re meditating, in this situation the filters have been removed and we can’t look away from what’s not working.
On the other hand…this is an amazing opportunity for growth. A key part of Darwin’s theory of evolution is that stress is necessary for change. The stress of this situation is similarly providing an opportunity for evolution. If we choose to, we can look at the yucky feelings and friction and use it as fuel for growth in our interpersonal relationships and daily routines.
It needs to be a conscious decision. It’s way easier to experience this stress and just get stressed. Anger, fear, sadness, and withdrawing are all part of the very ancient biological fight or flight system. But this moment is also a huge opportunity to improve your relationships with yourself and with those around you.
Stress as an opportunity to reconnect to our values
If you’re getting angry at your spouse for not cleaning the dishes, or annoyed at an inefficiency at work, or find yourself over-scheduling your day AGAIN, this isn’t an indication that your spouse, work, or self suck. Instead, use the stressor in this moment to affirm what is important to you.
Angry about the dishes? You value a clean home. You value equal partnership.
Inefficiencies got you down? You value efficiency and effective communication.
Keep feeling burnt out after you over-schedule? You value space, time, and self-care.
Don’t get caught up with what you don’t like. Focus in on what you do want and what these emotions are telling you about your values.
Stress as an opportunity to open communication channels.
Now’s not the time to silently suffer. It’s time to identify what’s causing negative feelings, affirm your values, and then communicate your needs.
If you’re unsure of how to have those difficult conversations without sparking extra tension and issues in your relationships, I highly recommend using nonviolent communication. In this technique, you’ll share what you’re observing, what you’re feeling, what your needs are, and your request.
For example: “I’m seeing that there are still dishes from last night on the counter. With us spending so much time at home, I find it hard to feel calm and peaceful when there’s clutter. I have been really trying to wash dishes as soon as I finish eating, and I would appreciate you doing the same. Would you be able or willing to do that?”
Notice how in the statement above you affirm what you do want and why it’s important to you, rather than just expressing frustration.
Stress as an opportunity to choose your path forward.
You might be seeing a lot of things that aren’t working. Perhaps you realize that you’re saying “yes” to everyone’s requests so your needs aren’t met. Or you find that your work place actually isn’t a functional, whole-hearted place to work.
You’ve noticed. That’s step one.
Now you get to choose. How do you want to proceed? Who do you want to be? Where do you want to put your energies?
The past is fixed. It led you to this moment. But the future has infinite potential. ANYTHING truly could happen. So use this pressure cooker moment be the catalyst for your evolution.
Now is the time. This is your opportunity. Seize it!
If you know you want to shift some things in your personal or professional life, but don’t know how to proceed, it might be time to do an Ayurvedic consultation with me. In an Ayurvedic consultation, you’ll learn about your unique mind/body type and how you can adapt your daily routines to bring yourself into balance. My clients and I dive in to work, relationships, stress, sleep, and balanced eating and exercise, and you’ll walk away with a guidebook of practices that are uniquely designed to help you be your best, PLUS the confidence and information you need to stick with them. Sign up for a free consultation here.