“Breathe: To pause. To make space. To collect your thoughts. To remember. To face the next moment. To choose.”
~ Karm C.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been a bit out of sorts…unmotivated… a bit done with Covid and its impact on work, life …everything. Can you relate?
I know we’re not out of the woods yet, and I’m committed to sticking it out, so to gain some clarity, I re-read parts of my soon-to-be-released new book called The Success-Energy Equation, because it turns out, the book is a Covid Coping Manual of sorts.
I stumbled on an interesting idea around autopilot, how it usually helps us manage stress, and why it’s less active right now. I talk about it all below, and share a number of tips.
For starters though, if you’re feeling like I am, a very simple coping mechanism is to remember to breathe, to slow down just a bit and let calm come to you.
And, if you want a few more insights as to what autopilot has to do with coping during covid, watch the video below or read the transcript that follows, then create your own on-going Covid coping plan.
Life as we know it continues to be a bit unknown doesn’t it? Am I the only one who feels this way?
I did my last in-person presentation March 12th. My husband and I began lock-down March 15th, at which point I began the work of shifting 17 upcoming, in-person presentations to later in the year… and then into 2021.
I shifted to providing online sessions for my clients, which required studio set up, learning 6 different online platforms, reworking my content, overcoming tech challenges (I’ve never been so obsessed with having a reliable internet connection!)
I’ve had zoom chats with hundreds of friends, family, and colleagues (with and without cocktails). I’ve baked 14 loaves of covid bread, and looked for new ways to burn off the excessive bread and wine calories …and then just for kicks we threw a puppy into the mix.
I’ve pivoted so many parts of my life that some days I’m not sure which way I’m facing. CAN. YOU. RELATE?
Michelle Cederberg here, contemplating the on-going reality of life under the cloud of COVID.
It’s been 130 days … which is 18+ weeks, …over 4 months of pandemic living that has left me…well, a little tired and out of sorts.
We’re not out of the woods with this Covid thing either, and I’ve been thinking about that a lot these past couple of weeks.
As much as I want life to return to normal (or whatever ‘NEXT’ will become), we still have a long road ahead of us until that happens… and I’ll admit, after my last online event July 7th, the wind just sort of left my sails. Sure, I was distracted by our puppy Islay, but there’s been more to it than that.
I’ve been struggling, as I’m sure some of you have too, with the uncertainty of it all, the whole “WHAT NOW, WHAT NEXT?” dilemma, and how to navigate this low motivation funk that I’m in. It’s not like me!
Then Tuesday I had breakfast with a coaching colleague and she said “If you were your client, what advice would you give yourself?” (SHIT), …”And, what’s in that new book of yours?”
For those of you who don’t know, I have a new book coming out this fall. It’s called The Success-Energy Equation. I’ll save the sassy sub-title until I have the cover design to share, but in essence it’s about getting clear about what you want and harnessing the energy and confidence to GET IT.
Which is something I need right now. So I went back through the manuscript to remind myself of my own good advice.
I want to share a bit of that with you now (and in the weeks to come) because it turns out this book is also a COVID SURVIVAL GUIDE of sorts.
In the book’s intro I talk about the busyness of life and how we get stuck on autopilot as we navigate our crazy schedules. I wrote:
“If you feel like you’re going through the motions some days (or many), if life feels too routine or a bit mundane, if distractions are draining your energy, if you’re constantly rushing out the door, rushing to get it all done, or wondering when you’ll find a bit of calm, and you’re feeling the chaos of life, then it might be time to get present to the mess. Twenty-first-and-a-quarter-century stress may be impacting your success.”
(I’ll share more about Twenty-first-and-a-quarter-century stress in a future post. For now, think chronic stress on steroids!)
“So much of success comes down to human performance and your capacity to operate at a high level mentally, physically, and emotionally, no matter what comes at you. Today’s brand of high-level stress, endless distractions, and lack-of-time-management means we go through life ignoring what we need for ourselves in those areas. As an antidote to 21st-and-a-quarter-century stress, you need to slow down and start listening to ”
That short segment got me thinking. Typically, we might view autopilot as a negative because it disconnects us from the here and now. In reality, autopilot is a defense mechanism of sorts that helps us manage mounting stress.
One of the useful aspects of autopilot is that it helps us automate the everyday, mundane, routine parts of our life so we can focus on getting shit done: Your morning routine at home, how you start your day at work, the route you take to buy a coffee or pick up lunch, where you sit during weekly meetings, even your commute often happen on autopilot, which frees up bandwidth for more important things, and decreases stress.
4 months ago, all those autopilot functions shut down. They vanished. Why? Because we had to get fully present to everything that had changed, and you can’t do that on autopilot. Think about that. The simplest, routine parts of your day suddenly required your full bandwidth.
- The kids were home from school.
- Your office was now on the kitchen table…or your kids’ “classroom” was, and you are working out of the spare bedroom, sharing space with your spouse who is also working from home. The dog is the only one who is happy you’re all together!
- Your meetings went online (heck, everything did).
- Coffee is now entirely up to you, and no one makes a latte like your favorite barista at your favorite coffee shop.
- It’s harder to workout without that class or your trainer, or your running buddy.
One of my coaching clients said, “Breaks? What breaks? If I’m not working, I’m helping my kid with math or I’m breaking up yet another sibling yelling match!”
I’ll say it again… EVERYTHING has changed.
To navigate the newness, your brain has gone into overdrive, stress has increased, and with it, fatigue and potential burnout have crept in too.
Through re-reading parts of my book I was reminded that change is hard, and at some point along the way we have to honour the hard work, and give ourselves a big ‘ol break.
I have to do that for my own sanity and so I have the energy to re-engage with the work I love when things pick up again this fall. What about you?
If any of this resonates with you let me share some of what I’m doing for myself to get back on track… and yes, I’m taking my own Success-Energy advice:
1) Listen to your body. It know what it needs. Whether it’s more sleep, exercise, more breaks, a few days off, or even just a few minutes to yourself, you won’t know unless you listen.
If the answer isn’t obvious, get quiet with yourself. This week I started meditating again. Just 10 minutes every morning (while puppy sleeps on my lap), to give my brain and body pause and oxygen… with no expectation of how well I do it (because right now I’m not that great at it). It has helped me start my day from a calm point of view, instead of the frenzied “I’m not doing enough” mindset that has plagued me the last couple of weeks. Which brings me to number 2.
2) Give yourself permission to take a day off. I’m self-employed so that should be easy enough, and it’s summer so it should be a no-brainer, but I haven’t really stepped away from work since lock-down began…except for two days when we took a road trip to pick up puppy, and even then I was checking in on the daily.
Lock-down-living means work is always front and centre (especially if you’re working from home), whether it’s the job you get paid for, or the work of life that has changed so much these past few months. Schedule some time off, or at the very least do your down time better. I’ve been reading more and scrolling less. I’ve been puttering in my garden and taking Islay for short puppy walks…just enjoying her puppyness, because it doesn’t last long.
3) Get clear about what you need so you can sustain your current pandemic life. I know this is something you don’t want to hear, but what we’re in right now is our reality for the foreseeable future. It’s your life for the time being, so don’t put it on hold. Ask yourself “What do I need for myself to make the most of working from home, the uncertainty of kids’ back-to-school, my current health routine, socializing …all of it.” What do you need? Identify, then take action in small steps. It will give you a sense of control over a situation you have no control over.
AND, when all else fails;
4) Remember to breathe. I talk about this a lot in The Success-Energy Equation, especially in Chapter 4 where I address how to move from autopilot to awareness. Breathing is automated by our reptilian brain, and default breathing usually hits only the upper third of our lungs. Slow it down. Throughout the day, breathe deeply to the bottom of your lungs. Just a few times will do. It will give you a sense of calm, slow your heart rate down, and provide a mini-meditation when necessary.
I’ll say it again. We’re not done with pandemic living just yet, so take care of yourself in small ways, physically, mentally and emotionally so you can see this through with health, happiness and success reasonably intact.
Stay tuned for more information about, and ideas from my upcoming book The Success-Energy Equation.
Share this post with anyone who may need a reminder.
Subscribe to my social channels below, so you don’t miss a message.
And comment with your positive ideas for coping during covid!
Remember, we only get one chance to do this life…lock-down or not. I say Dare to Live It Big and dare to include self-care in your plan.
Hey, I’m presenting online these days, and it’s not only fun, it’s pretty darn effective. If your organization needs a break from the work-from-home routine to learn how to boost resilience, work-life balance and productivity, reach out to me to chat about my engaging online sessions!