Lately, I’ve started dividing time into pre- and post-COVID life, and I’ve noticed something interesting.
Pre-COVID life, I was pretty darn good at fooling myself into thinking that I had a much larger degree of control than I actually do.
The certainty with which I made long-term plans and the breezy confidence I bestowed in their outcome looks almost quaint now.
Yet I’m not interpreting this as an indication of my utter helplessness.
Quite the contrary.
You see, I’ve also become increasingly aware of the things that I do have control over, things that, pre-COVID, were often neglected in favor of trying to control the uncontrollable.
Here’s an example.
For the first few days of self-isolation, I was checking the news every hour, compulsively texting and FaceTiming friends and family, and wandering around the house in a highly distracted state.
I tried, at one point, to pick up a book, but after reading the same paragraph five times and having zero clue what it was about, I gave up.
That’s when it really hit me: My mental health isn’t a given right now.
I have to step up and be a responsible steward of my inner state.
No one else is going to do this for me.
I could blame the state of affairs, but, while not necessarily inaccurate, this isn’t the least bit helpful.
So what can I actually control right now?
Doing my best to get good sleep.
Meditating and journaling a little every single day.
Getting in physical movement, both in my yard and indoors with the help of free fitness sites.
Reaching out to friends and family for some Zoom social time.
Regulating how often I check the news.
Try this two-step turnaround
First, identify a potential power zapper.
What things are you spending time or mental bandwidth on right now that aren’t yours to control, like:
- Obsessing over when you’ll be able to go back to work?
- Freaking out about people who aren’t social distancing (that one’s a biggie for me)?
- Constantly scrolling through news feeds?
Second, choose how you’ll transmute this energy.
Choose something that truly is within your zone of ownership right now, and consciously channel the power-zapping energy into this new activity.
For example, if you find yourself going into robo-scroll mode through apocalyptic news articles, stop, take a deep breath, and decide to do a short yoga routine instead.
Or do some laundry.
Call your grandma.
Take a shower.
Focus on the things you can genuinely impact, one choice at a time.
Now, more than ever, we need to be conscious caretakers of our inner landscape.
So please, take care of yourself, love.
We will get through this together.