Hi. Remember me? It’s been a while.
I was all hyped up to do my weekly coaching spiel – then COVID-19 became a household word. Suddenly, no one knew if it was safe to work out at the gym. Was produce safe to eat? Ok, now the gym is closed.
Whoa, now the University is closed. Well, not really, we just can’t get to our offices. Through the miracle of Zoom, GoToMeeting, and other conferencing software, we can get everything done from the comfort of our own couch.
Wait a minute. I worked mostly from home anyway. This shouldn’t be a shift, right?
It was more of a shift than I thought. I don’t have kids, but Spousal Unit is home most of the day. He’s been great, honestly, and understands my hectic/not hectic work life. I’ve moved from the couch in the living room to the couch in the basement. I’m doing way more webinars than I ever thought possible, and I put three additional mini-certificates under my belt (Weight Management, Complex PTSD, and Telehealth). However, life has changed. I think when I had my first panic attack, ever, during a routine call is when I realized maybe things aren’t the normal work-from-home, and maybe I wasn’t 100% ok.
I’m putting on some poundage, and my central fat is growing. That’s the dangerous fat around your midsection that is sometimes called “stress fat.” At my last specialist appointments, it was pointed out that I am overweight and deconditioned. In other words, this COVID-19 has made me stressed, fat, and out of shape.
Let’s face it, if you like the gym, you probably picked it at least in part for social reinforcement. Yeah, there’s Zoom, but that’s different, right? Like we are in an episode of the Brady Bunch. I don’t know of any peer reviewed articles on Zoom Fatigue, but there does seem to be some anecdotal evidence supporting all this screen time being less than good for us.
I also know some of my colleagues are dealing with much bigger stressors than my whining about ANOTHER meeting about meetings where we plan future Zoom meetings.
- Parents are trying to be parents while simultaneously being professionals (although who doesn’t love the stories about dogs taking over morning TV)
- Spouses and partners are wondering if they will be called back from furlough. Some have been laid off all together.
- Not all kids can just learn online. Some parents and students are struggling with remote learning. It’s amazing what can be done online, but not all kids get it, and some things just have to be done in person to work.
- Some individuals are experiencing domestic violence. If you are a reader experiencing domestic violence, help is available at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. 1-800-799-7233
And let’s not forget the number of our friends and family dealing with COVID-19. I can say as of this writing, I’ve known a few people who may have had it, but I have not lost any friends, family, coworkers, or students. I’m lucky – not everyone is.
I feel as if I should work hard right now, not because of them, not to get ahead, but FOR them. So they can tend to their needs with a little less stress. I’m fortunate to be healthy right now as well as open to do work – SO I SHOULD DO IT. As such, my basement has become where I spend the majority of my time.
But overworking isn’t the answer, either. So, I’m going to put on my compassion fatigue hat and consider some better ways to do things.
- I’ve been telling parents in the telehealth seminars, “you’re doing great, your good enough is good enough.” (Yes, spellcheck, that is grammatically correct. Now put your red dots away.) And I believe that with all my heart. But sometimes, well, most of the time, self-compassion is tough. I like Kristin Neff’s definition: “treating ourselves as we would a good friend.” Would you tell your best friend not to take a break? That they’re not trying hard enough to get their kids to sit through e-learning? So why is it so easy to tell ourselves, “I’m not working hard enough, I should be more, I should be self-actualized when this is over?” Sorry for my cuss, but bullshit. I, and most likely you, need to be more gentle with ourselves.
- Set some boundaries around work life, so that there is time for socialization. Work from 9-5, or 10-6, or 11-7, or something like that. Setting boundaries around my work and stopping when the workday ends is better than trying to hit some sort of arbitrary metric.
- Take one day “off” a week – this is something I’m trying to do, but am not as successful. I always want to answer that one email that will take 5 minutes, right? Then all of a sudden you’ve worked on 5 different projects? I took one day, so far, to do nothing. I need to schedule those types of days more often. Maybe not do nothing, but no work.
- Remember my hobbies and interests. Tang Soo Do still exists. My guitar is right next to me. My piano is upstairs. I’m not a sewer, but I spent an entire day setting up my sewing machine and making masks. Mom would have been proud. But then I looked at my to-do list and admonished myself for wasting the day. Nope, not going to beat myself up for doing things that bring me fun and enjoyment.
- Taking regular breaks to eat, exercise, and relax – instead of trying to eat at my makeshift desk, skip the workout for something “more important,” and have the ding of my email remind me there is a message there. Which, once stimulus control is established, must be answered RIGHT NOW.
For all of you who are healthy, please take care of yourselves and stay that way. For those of you who are not, or are caring for someone who is not, take the time to get well. School, scholarship, and service will wait patiently for you, and those of us who can are ready and willing to help. And please remember that your good enough is, indeed, good enough right now.