Today is the last Friday, of the last week of the month.
I appreciate this is not particularly significant. However maybe you’ve had a bad day, or week, or month… or the entire last 12 months could be described as your ‘annus horriblis.’
Maybe you’re feeling really flat and struggling to feel optimistic for your future.
Maybe you’re so past the point of ‘pandemic fatigue’ that you find it hard to focus and little things trigger a disproportionate reaction.
Maybe you’re feeling a bit stressed at the prospect of returning to the physical workplace. Or just anxious in general.
If so, you’re not alone.
The disruption, uncertainty, loss, or fear of it, have taken a toll on the mental and emotional wellbeing of billions of people the world over. Yet even outside of once in 100 year pandemics, let’s face it, sometimes life is just hard and some days are just crappy.
The question is, what do you do now?
Given your attention span is already stretched, here’s six things you can do today to regroup and face your future more grounded within yourself and less weighed down by what’s going on around you.
Self-Compassion: Cut yourself some slack
Chances are, you are not okay with not feeling upbeat and on top of your life. But beating yourself up for not feeling upbeat only drags you further down. So get off your own back and give yourself permission to be human. In a world where toxic positivity runs wild, it’s important resist the pressure to push down those emotions you’d rather not feel and put on a smiley face. Yet no emotion is buried dead. All emotions need to be felt fully. So embrace however you’re feeling as part and parcel of the human experience and direct your compassion inwardly. As Chris Germer says, “One moment of self-compassion can change your day. A string of them can change your life.”
Focus: Control your controllables
There’s a lot in your life that’s not the way you want it to be. Such is life. So focus in on what is directly within your control today… what one action could you take that would make you feel that bit more positive at the end of today? Do it. Small wins matter. In tough times they matter even more.
Let Go: Release others’ negativity
Boats don’t sink because of the water around them, but from the water that gets in them. It’s possible that you’ve been taking on board a lot of the negativity of others this week. Perhaps you’ve let other people’s fears become your own. Or you’ve let others project all their untended insecurities onto you. Remember, what others say or do says far more about them than about you. Don’t take on their baggage. Give it back to them and focus on how you want to show up. They have their work to do. You have yours.
Connect: Reach out to an ‘energy giver’
While ‘social distancing’ doesn’t imply emotional distancing, the reality is that as the pandemic has dragged on, and work has remained remote, many people have grown increasingly emotionally distanced from others.
So be proactive in reaching out to ‘energy givers’; those people with whom you can share the truth of your life – no posturing, no pretense – and who will both have empathy but will also champion you. We forge deeper connections through our vulnerability than our victories. Picking up the phone to make a call may feel awkward but it may very well make your day.
(On the flip-side: set solid boundaries with energy takers!)
Rest: Schedule doing NOTHING
I know you have a lot on your plate. But it’s not the load you carry, it’s how you carry it that ultimately matters most. So identify one thing you could do for yourself in the next 48 hours that would help broaden your bandwidth to do everything else better. Schedule it in. This includes scheduling in time to do absolutely NOTHING; to pause on your ever busy ‘doing’ and simply connecting with your ‘being’… with that deeper dimension of your own humanity that may need some nurturing. Rest is not laziness. Rest is indispensable for being fully engaged in our lives.
Breath in Faith, Breath Out Fear: This too shall pass
As I type this now, I can see cherry blossoms sprouting on the tree outside my window where I live in Alexandria, Virginia. They are a reminder that there was never a winter that did not end in spring (though a few times in recent months I was wondering if maybe this year would be the exception!).
Likewise, whatever is going on for you right now, it will pass. Chances are you’ll look back on this time and realize that you learned a lot through this ‘winter of discontent’ and, while not always easy or comfortable, that it compelled you to grow into a fuller version of the person you’ve always had it within you to be.
For now, take the deepest breath you have all day, imagine your ‘future self’ smiling at you right now and saying, “All will be well. You’ve got this”
Because you know what, you do.
About the author
Dr. Margie Warrell, a bestselling author of five books, Margie couples her diverse international background with grounded theories to provide actionable advice to help people make better decisions and take braver action - in work, leadership, and life. Founder of Global Courage, Margie sits on the board of Forbes School of Business & Technology. Learn more at margiewarrell.com and globalcourage.com.
To learn more and subscribe to ForbesWomen, visit forbes.com.
Contents of this article remain the property of the author and/or publisher.