COVID-19 has changed the world. Work has changed, running errands have changed and it’s all been punctuated by a lot of FEAR and FOREBODING. The way I work and even how much I make has been impacted. So, my anxiety has been high. And, then you add in the death of George Floyd and to be frank, too many others, and I just felt like there’s been a huge weight on me…I felt stuck and I couldn’t think clearly.
Where I found my compass was in Tia, my wife, I saw her rise to the occasion - using her platform to educate people, donating, having very difficult conversations at her job, and providing leadership. I took a leaf out of her book and went to work doing what I could - having difficult conversations, and shaping the change I wanted to see.
Coming out of that, what I also found was 3 Small Habits that helped me to feel like a person again. These were small things I gradually started doing every day that made me feel better.
Running helped me feel like I had a little bit more control over my day. I overheard Tia talking about how her friends were in a Running Challenge on the Nike Run Club app and thought it was cool, so I stole it.
I convinced my college roommates that we should do the same. We started at 5 miles a week until we eventually got to 12. I’ve always felt competitive with these guys, even if it’s all only in my head. And, the one rule I set for myself is that I can’t ever be the person that comes in last place. I got a great source of accountability with these guys, not to mention a clear scoreboard of how I was performing next to everybody else.
As the weeks went by, I started to notice that I felt less cloudy and I could start to think more clearly. My anxiety started going down, and I felt great that I was taking time out of the day to take care of myself.
So, my advice is that if you feel stuck, find a way to start exercising, especially if you can do so with someone else. Even if you can’t, find a way to do something for yourself every day.
Meditation was one of the things that I stopped when I started feeling stressed out. I don’t know why but I’ve always had a weird relationship with meditating. When I do it, I feel great. When I don’t do it, I take it for granted. When I start doing it again, I see how valuable it always was.
Meditation, especially in the mornings, has been a great way for me to start the day off right. It’s a moment with myself and my thoughts that reduces my anxiety and stress. Even when I’m having a hard time sitting still, I always seem to feel better by the end.
So, my advice to you is to figure out what calms you down and clears your mind - whether that’s walking, knitting, or video games - and make time for it.
I always loved books but hated the time it takes to read them. So, when I was feeling more stressed out and stuck, it was easy to stop reading. One less thing I have to do.
However, because I started feeling like myself again when I was running and meditating, it’s almost as if I felt like something was missing. Here I am excising my body, but not exercising my mind. Reading has always been one of my key paths to growth and here I was stunted.
I also found the previous two habits had another benefit. It showed me that I could start goals and successfully stick to them. That gave me a boost in confidence and made me feel more hopeful.
So, my advice to you would be to do whatever it is that makes you feel capable and confident, and do that thing as much as you can. Find the things that build you up and do them.
Everyone is different, we all cope with change, stress, and anxiety in different ways. So, what works for me won’t necessarily work for the other person. I do think what can work for anyone is taking the time to look after yourself, whatever that might mean for you.
Take the time out of your day to do the things that make you feel healthy, calm, and confident. Do them frequently and make them a priority. Take care.