How to Maintain Your Sanity in a Time of Chaos
By Dr. Molly Casey
All of us can agree that the world is a bit chaotic right now. The degree to which each of you experience the chaos and changes, and how they affect your life, depends on your life and work prior to virus response, where you live, whether you have kids or not, how much of your shopping you did in person versus online, and a multitude of other things. It is impossible to mention all the factors.
So here we are, more than two months in, and many people are still floundering in the chaos, not clear of what’s to come, and unsure of how to move forward with life or work in any way. So let’s categorize a bit of what’s going on to give you some space to breathe, ground yourself, and perhaps even move forward a bit.
People have been challenged emotionally, mentally, and spiritually all along this journey. Right now it seems people are at even more of a breaking point as certain orders are extended, going back to in-person schooling has been cancelled nearly everywhere for the remaining school year, and even some are speaking of online learning in the fall. The reason I mention tips to keep sane first is because, without sanity, there’s no chance of truly gaining -- or regaining -- any ground for improved health.
- Recognition - There are a lot of unknowns and that provokes anxiety for many people. Recognize this if it sounds like you. Although you can’t simply turn the worry off, you absolutely can change your behavior. Your behavior will either feed the anxiety and fear or it will starve it. Limit the perseveration -- change tasks or what you’re doing, engage with family time or joyful activities, read a book. Stop trying to figure out -- on your own -- what the rest of the world can’t.
- Extra time - Nearly every single thing right now takes more time -- except for maybe driving times. There is now a wait in grocery lines to enter the store, or delivery times if ordering online. For some, getting kids through their schoolwork is taking exponentially more time. Deliveries for -- and from -- any non-grocery related items too are skewed. Returns in most places are not being processed. Accept it and plan for it. Let it be.
- Live it - Commit to being in the moment. We don’t know what is to come or what the new routines in public areas will be for the long-term. You can’t control any of that. So be present in the here and now. If nothing, this experience is showing us clearly what we can and can’t control, and that many things in our life are not under our direct control. Let it be. And focus on the next best step right in front of you.
- Be patient - Offer a little more leniency, space, kindness, or however you experience grace for yourself and others. You likely won’t be able to be perfect in your routine or health practices, but some committed participation is better than nothing. Give others the benefit of the doubt, recognize they are doing the best they feel they can regardless of whether or not you agree. Grace goes a long way to contributing to your sanity.
Routines have fallen by the wayside for many, and sticking to the routines as best as possible can be quite helpful in decreasing some of the anxiety resulting from the chaotic state right now.
- Get up at your normal work time, shower, dress as you would for the office or perhaps business casual if that leniency offers you a bit of grace.
- Start and end your normal work time, and go to your designated home workspace setup as this contains your work life as best as possible.
- Take a normal lunch time and maintain your normal routines, so if you do daily stretches from your workstation, continue to keep those on point.
- Use what would be your commute time for exercise that many say they don’t have the time for. Of course, you’d need to shift this time to before your shower to follow the above guidelines.
- If you genuinely like and benefit from certain co-workers in your profession, reach out to at least one daily to maintain camaraderie and keep some lightness in your day.
As a healthcare provider, one of the most common excuses I hear for not participating in healthy behavior is the lack of time or energy. Right now most people have at least a chunk of unclaimed time and unused energy since many activities have been canceled. So those excuses are up.
- Follow your basic health guidelines, such as chiropractic adjustments, sleep, water, food; do your best here, don’t go fully off the wagon
- Limit alcohol or food that you're using to numb the anxiety and fear or boredom.
- Be creative with your exercise routine; air squats, wall sits, sit-ups, push-ups, walks, and runs can all still be done despite various restrictions.
Keeping structure will inhibit, at least to some degree, anxiety and worry and give you the best chance to remain healthy or move forward toward health goals. Wiping out the fear, anxiety and every aspect of health routines isn’t realistic for most. That’s OK. It’s about actively participating in diminishing behaviors that feed the fear and anxiety because that stress is detrimental to your health. It is also about strengthening the behaviors and habits that feed health even during extremely challenging times.
Remember that The Joint Chiropractic is here to help you stay safe, protected, healthy and well.
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