Coping in Quarantine: Focus on Today

As I’ve been trying to pull together my best tools to help my clients and all of you guys right now, I have been feeling all kinds of emotions (remember the Skill #1??). 

It’s been interesting because, unlike when I help my clients in their marriage, this is totally uncharted territory for me. It is for all of us, right? I’m using these tools in a new way and figuring this all out for myself, while I am trying to help you too. It is an interesting feeling. 

Which is why we are going to talk about Skill #2 today. Because I have been coaching myself on this very issue all morning. 🙂 So let’s just dive right in, shall we?

I may not understand exactly what is going on in the world right now or what will happen with the Coronavirus, but what I do know is how our brains typically work and respond to crisis. 

Our brains are wired for story. It is how we learn best, how we engage with others best, and how we find joy and connection. Storytelling is at the heart of the human experience. Our brains are constantly evaluating information and putting it into the context of a story.

Our brains also like resolution. We like to have a beginning, and middle and an end to the story. We want to close the story loop. Resolution comes when we can see the whole story and know that it is all going to work out int he end. And until the resolution comes, we get really agitated, sometimes in a good way and sometimes in a really uncomfortable, “make it stop” kind of way (Matthew Dicks wrote an amazing book all about this concept, Storyworthy).

Because the brain likes story so much, it works really hard to fill in where there are gaps in information. We start imagining what the possible resolutions might be. We scan the news or social media feed for more information that might close the loop. We become hyper focused on the future and what might happen, or might not happen, and we have lots of anxiety about it. 

Right now, we are in the story of a lifetime. Right in the middle of it. And that is really uncomfortable. We don’t know what the resolution will be. We don’t know how far off it is or what challenges we are going to face between now and then and our brains want to rebel. Our human brains crave resolution and for Covid-19, we don’t have it yet. 

So what do we do? How do we cope with the lack of resolution?

Focus on Today. 

Instead of spinning out on the larger story, focus on the story for today. You can find a beginning and a middle and an end for today’s story and close that story loop. 

I’ve been practicing this concept today in a couple of ways

  • Make a plan

I am a big ball of contradictions, I love having a structured schedule, but it has to be flexible or I feel stifled (anyone else?). So I have created a very loose schedule for myself and my kids while we are in quarantine. I have certain goals set for each day. When I can focus on the plan, my brain can close the loop for today. I can have that feeling of resolution. Every time I accomplish a goal, like exercising with my kids, or cleaning a room, I feel that sense of resolution. 

  • Find the beauty

Right now as I am typing, I can see out of the window into my front yard where we have a flowering pear tree, and those tiny little buds are just starting to open up. And seeing that makes my heart so happy. 

I look forward to spring for months, and now it is here. Even in quarantine, Spring is coming and I am so grateful. 

Gratitude, finding the beauty in what is, has been shown in countless studies to relieve anxiety and fear. Our brains will focus on what we look for, so start training your brain to focus on beauty instead of uncertainty. 

Find one thing, everyday that is beautiful. Then list 10 reasons why you love that one things. It looks like this.

I am grateful that I can work from home. 

-I have total control of my schedule

-I can help my clients even when we are all quarantined

-I can wear pajamas and still get paid

-I can take a break in the middle of the day to help my kids with their school work

-I can look out my window all day and see my flowering pear tree in the spring

-I love how my dog Gracie sits on my feet under my desk, keeping me warm

-My business is continuing without skipping a beat during quarantine

-I enjoy having all my creature comforts close

-My introverted side loves the quiet environment and heartfelt conversations that I get to have with my clients all day

-I get to choose all my own office supplies (What can I say, I am really picky about my pens)

See what I mean? Give it a try.

  • Meditate 

I’m going to write another post on meditation in a couple of weeks, but now is a great time to give it a try. It is the practice of focusing inward rather than spinning out in the unknown. Mindfulness meditation has consistently shown in study after study to be massively beneficial in reducing anxiety, depression and improve relationships. 

There are lots of apps out there that will help you learn. Just a few minutes every day makes a huge difference. I love the Calm app, also Headspace is a great option. Give it a try and tell me how it goes. 

Hang in there, my friends. We will get through this and there will be resolution to this story. As always, I am here to help you in any way you need. If you need some help putting these ideas into practice, sign up for a free coaching session and we can get you started. Just click the link below to set it all up. 

Stay happy and healthy!