Hello everybody, welcome to episode 159 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. If you’re listening to this in real time, you know the coronavirus has been looming for a while and has greatly compromised everyone’s way of life. And frankly, this is difficult. Even if we’ve been lucky enough to not get sick or worse, there are challenges and our asker today is having a particularly hard time with them. Let’s see what she has to say and hopefully sort out some ways to continue living in harmony with pandemic routines.
QUESTION: “I'm feeling tethered. I know restrictions are in place for COVID safety but it’s hard when every time you want to go do something you have to remind yourself that you can’t. I’m a big window/antique shopper, love going to coffee shops – just being!
It’s like being permanently grounded and it’s frustrating. I don’t mean to minimize the pandemic, just relaying that what’s been hard is the immediate change to our everyday life. We’ve had to basically restructure ourselves.
Yes, we can go some places but you now constantly have to be aware of how close you are to others, remember your mask, follow rules, be empathetic to others who feel differently than you- all without an adjustment period or expected end date. It’s stifling.”
Ok, good question. Perfectly reasonable, and I really love how you took the time to acknowledge the seriousness of the pandemic.
I hope everyone paid attention to that, because all too often we walk on either side of this line, right? We’re frustrated about things yet we don’t see it from the side of others who suffer because of it, or we minimize or ignore our frustrations because we feel these feelings aren’t justified when others are suffering more.
What you’ve done, asker, is acknowledged both and that’s absolutely the sweet spot for a healthy way of expressing problematic feelings that involve other people.
Really, really nice.
Accommodating to Circumstances
We’ll get the obvious stuff out of the way first, and that is that there’s really not much you can do to change the circumstances, right?
I think we’ve all tried to rack our brains on this one for the last however many months it’s been depending on where you live, and we can’t change what’s going on outside or the restrictions that follow.
The powers that be are trying to direct us as best they can as new information develops, and despite any kicking and screaming, a certain amount of accommodation is going to have to happen.
Now I’m not going to give you advice on how to overthrow the government. That’s how a network can get blacklisted and no one wants that here.
How to Adjust to Pandemic Routines
So I think there are two ways we answer this question of how to accommodate. There’s the band-aid approach and the surgery approach – two terms I just coined right now, thank you very much.
Let’s start by going over the band-aid approach. And I’ll preface it by saying that there’s definitely a time and place for band-aids. They’re useful at times and exist for a reason.
1. Band-Aid Solution
Band-aids help us on a day to day basis and shouldn’t be banished just because they don’t provide the same long term benefits that surgeries do.
The band-aid solution here is to change your day to day lifestyle in a way that follows coronavirus restrictions yet enables you to do things you enjoy.
What does that look like? It looks like more indoor activities such as inviting close friends and family over in small groups, learning a new skill from your home, reading about interesting topics, dare I suggest shopping for antiques online?
It’s also a good opportunity to work on projects that you’ve put off. Have you been meaning to clean out the garage, build a new deck, paint certain rooms?
Now’s the time for all of that stuff that you’ve been saying you’re going to do for x amount of time.
It’s also a fine opportunity (which it would be even if we weren’t in a pandemic) to start giving back and help others. There’s an endless supply of chances to give back, and when we do give back, we’re almost always steered away from our own problems, as we expand our awareness into other problems the world is facing and the harmony there is in doing something about them.
So these are all things you can start doing right now; all actions you can take right now that may yield enjoyable enough benefits that they then change your mindset rather than your mindset changing your actions. And a lot of the time it’s taking action before feeling motivated to do so that can in fact help us in the long term.
But typically long term change is associated with mindset work first which then changes action. We’ll harp on that now as I now bring up the surgery solution I mentioned.
2. Surgical Solution
I appreciate your desire to just be and do fun things. And again, I also love that went out of the way to not minimize the pandemic’s severity.
But cut and dry, the lifestyle you’re talking about living is indeed a lifestyle of privilege, and privilege is not a word that I just throw around.
It’s not to say you haven’t worked to get where you are or that things have been handed to you, but really, any of us that are even fortunate enough to have the technology to listen to this podcast right now are quite lucky. There’s no shame in this.
Though others may suffer more, it’s not to say that anyone, in any time of fortune, should feel guilty for or undeserving of enjoying themselves. But that’s not to say that fortune becomes an entitlement, and having things taken away from time to time is a reminder for us to stay grounded and not take things for granted, because our gifts are never guaranteed anyway.
Having even some of life’s freedoms taken away is an invitation to toughen up a little and not rely so much on our fun routines.
Certainly the pandemic is a very dramatic example of life shifting in a way that no one wants regardless of their health or socioeconomic group, and perhaps many of us needed such a turn to be reminded of how little we can and should rely on our routines. The less interruption we have in our routines, the easier it is to forget that and thus the harder it is to properly adjust when shake ups occur.
Pandemic Routines: Conclusion
In short, even though we all know it’s a fool’s game to sneak through life with no obstacles, we also tend to be bad at owning up to our responsibility to be prepared for those obstacles by being unattached to our usual lifestyles. It may not happen so much for people that can usually count on smooth sailing, but still, a desired routine being broken is the rule to count on, not to the exception.
What does all this mean for your mindset work and the surgery solution? Well, it means that for you, as well as many others, it’s time to wake up back up to this reality. You said you wished there was an adjustment period. Well, there was. We’ve all had opportunities each day to be flexible and not need our routines in order to stay happy. But that’s in the past. See this, right now, as an opportunity to make your whole life an adjustment period. You can do this if you spend each day remembering to be open to the possibility (and inevitability) of uncontrollable events that change the way you normally like to do things.
A question that surely has implications stretching beyond the indefinite period that the coronavirus will affect the world. I appreciate the opportunity to answer this one, so asker, thank you for sending this in and it’s my hope that you were able to get some closure from this episode. To all others, I hope you’ll continue considering to come to us with your struggles. You know we’re so happy to help and support you as well as we can. If there’s something you’re having a hard time with, please email it to us at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be in touch and do what we can for you. That brings us to an end for today, everyone, and I thank you so much for being here today. I had a great time like I always do, hoping the same for you. Enjoy the rest of your day and I’ll be back with you again on Wednesday. Until then.