The silver lining comes from John Milton’s poem, “Comus.” He talks about a cloud deceiving its gazers. For most people, when they look up at a cloud and see the sun shining behind it, they see colors that create a silver lining. The metaphorical phrase we use today, “Every cloud has a silver lining,” means that there is hope during difficult times.
During a storm, people can become enamored with the dark, eerie, spooky clouds that lay overhead, but we know the storm will soon pass when we see a ray of sun peak through. This is a lot like today, Corona virus Pandemic or Covid-19. Some people frown upon talking about the blessings or good things that have come from this. They think that it is insensitive, defeats the purpose of stay-at-home orders, and negates the negative effect it has on a lot of the entire world right now. This blog, in no way shape is belittling the awful affects, deaths, and hard work that people have had to go through. Everyone has had their own experience, and has the right to feel the emotions that this has caused. However, I have always been one to think optimistically in all situations, because it honestly makes me feel better. Finding the good in our “new normal” we are forced to create new habits. I am going to share my positive aspects of this pandemic.
The month of May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, so in good faith, I had thought that sharing these ideas, would help those struggling, to take a closer look at how they can see these positives in their lives.
1. Refocus on Goals
After the first two weeks of having to stay at home, not being able to find food and toilet paper, and realizing I would have to cook a whole lot more, I realized there were some things neglected. My goals. I finally had clarity, because there was less commotion going on in my brain. There was only certain times in my day where I communicated with the outside world, and then the rest of the time I was able to listen to what I needed. I rewrote my goals, my intentions, and restarted working on my goals. We give SO much of ourselves to others, so when I had so much time to give to myself I found it rewarding to give more energy to myself.
You have the opportunity and TIME to think about your personal and professional goals right now. I know that the lift is almost over, but I want you to feel prepared with a plan before going back to working, shopping, and doing the “old” normal things. Your goals should be of value to you and refocusing on them will give you a boost in the right direction. There is always an opportunity to grow and get better as it pertains to your goals, so I encourage you to go back over your fierce goal, set your priorities, and remember your why!
2. Clean my Environment
When I was teaching and working part time at Starbucks, I was away from home from 10 hours M, W, F, 16 hours T, TH and six hours Sat and Sun. Therefore, when I was home I ate and slept. I had yet to put an at home plan in place and stick to it, because I was so exhausted from driving, working, and really being “on” for others all the time. My home environment was being neglected. I rarely did home cleaning except, except on Saturday and Sunday. Now that I have been working from home, I have been able to do the dishes, laundry, bathroom cleaning, and one of my favorite things is keeping my room clean. No clothes on the floor or tabletops, and I have been able to make my bed every day. The little things matter. When you are in a clean environment you take pride in it, feel comfortable, and less anxiety.
In saying this, look around you. Yes, right now. Is it the dream environment you want? Are you cluttered or messy? Do you see chaos or order? If your environment is the way you want it, I am happy for you, but is there something you desire for your space? Maybe more decor? Whatever it is, take the time to improve it, because it WILL, I promise make you feel more at home and peaceful.
3. Health Check
I had not realized what I was eating and when I was eating. As a teacher, I also did not realize the amount of times I needed to go to the bathroom but could not until I started working from home. This is not something you may want to hear, but I have been using the bathroom regularly at home, when I want, as much as I want, and it is amazing. I do not have a stomach ache anymore less headache. It honestly feels freeing. I also am able to eat on a healthy 2-3 hour schedule. This also came as a surprise that I was eating out way more than I thought. I have been able to cook more clean meals, and it’s become a priority I’d like to keep moving forward. Eating healthy meals is so good for your health, energy levels, and digestion. Are you reading the labels on your food? Are they plant based? Go look in your cabinet and evaluate what kind of foods you are fueling your body with.
That leads me into thinking about habits. I have had time to reflect on the good and bad habits I have created in my life. What I spend my time doing, saying, thinking…are all impactful towards my attitude in life. Books, movies, music that I fill my mind with are influencing me to think the way I do, and what kind of content I create for Fierce Women. It’s all linked together. Habits are created based off repetition, cues, and the outcome of our actions. We get into the habits of eating when we do something well or if we are sad. Breakup=ice cream/wine. Graduating=cake. Losing a job = drinks. Holiday=family dinner. So as you can see, we are wired to participate in an action based off our situation, and it cues our behavior. When we do these things continuously, it is hard to break the habit. If you think about your morning routine. You usually do the same five things every morning, and I have even found that if I do not have time to complete all five tasks, because of lack of time, I will fell “off” all day. So we are creatures of habit. When I reflect on my teaching skills, I know I have picked up some bad habits. The only way to break them is to practice in the moment, when the time is right to change the habit. I heard that in order to create a concrete habit it takes on average 66 days. During this time at home I’ve been trying to create more positive habits in my daily routine, like: making my bed, making breakfast, doing laundry, writing during my free time, watching less TV, eating less sugary foods…the list goes on. I am intentional when I write my goals and meal plans to include those habits into the daily chores for the day.
5. Values Change
While staying at home your day-to-day activities have changed. Some of you live alone, some with family or roommates, some of you have kids, and some of you have still had to work during this time, others may have been laid off. Our values do change in circumstances like this. Will you revert to what you valued before? I value, self-love, work ethic, and not giving up. There are material things that I value too. Thing that I took for granted before, but value a whole lot more now, like, spending time with friends, going out to eat in public with other people around, not worrying so much about germs, clean water, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, public transportation, public education, traveling by planes, health care for all…so much more.
6. Relationship Resets
Whether you are in a relationship or not you have people in your life that matter to you. People who you love and care about, but you also have people in your life that take advantage of the care you give them. It may be time for a relationship cleanse, or reset. Now is the time for you to cut ties with people that are toxic for your life. It is perfectly okay to realize it, and move on with your life. When you go back to the normal way of living, do you want it to go back to the way it was. I know that you may have more time to think about the types of boundaries you want to uphold in your friendships moving forward. Set the boundaries and stick by them.
7. Intentional Actions
You can only be intentional if you set up a plan. When this “stay at home” order first happened, I was getting up early, because I was used to a schedule. The moment I slacked off my usual routine, I found it harder to keep motivated during the day. You have to become your own boss. For some this is difficult. You may find it easier to be told what you should be doing, and work better under an authoritative figure, that’s okay, but that just means that you are going to have to give yourself a promotion right now. You need to plan, dictate, and conquer your daily goal every day. Some tips on how to do that are -write it down -set daily task oriented timers -check mark tings when you finish the task -Make yourself move on from one thing to the other.
8. Slowing Down: Rest
We are used to go-go-go, but now you do have more time. You are not driving long distances, or having to go to scheduled appointments. Everything is very factual, time saving, and productive. This means that there will be more down time than you are used to. Take this time to your advantage. Use it to accomplish something you were not able to do before, but also use it to rest. Resting could be sleeping in an hour later, taking a nap, putting your phone down for an hour, watching mindless TV, listening to music, watching movies, enjoying family company, taking a bubble bath, doing a facial routine… whatever it is that you do to rest, rejuvenate, and relax, NOW is the time. It will change the way you feel and change how you value down time.
When I go back to a normal routine, I think about how I can incorporate resting time into it. It has made me feel healthier, less stressed, and more aware when I am required to be “on.” This idea, makes me think of Spain…I think it is, that shuts down during the evening to have a “nap time.” Sounds amazing and like they knew the positive effects it has for people.
9. Perspective and empathy for others.
Understanding our feelings and emotions and how this affected us is important. What we are experiencing is changing us. The things we learn are took back with us when we reenter the work place. Having empathy for other’s experiences is going to be important too. We all have gone through the pandemic, but have experienced it in different ways. Going back to “normal” may not be what is best for all of us. We will have to come together, listen, understand, and learn from one another. Having empathy for other’s situations will leave us with open hearts and a stronger sense of community. The one thing we all should know is that everyone’s feelings and emotions are valid. Be open to communication, and be careful of saying, “I know how you feel,” as it lessens the experience of others and makes them less likely to share more.