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Updated: September 21, 2020 Experts Corner

Pandemic offers a chance to reset our personal wellness

Katie McDonald

This crisis can break us, but what if it makes us?

What if we wake up to the seductive ways in which we fell asleep? We are being called home to our shelters and to ourselves. We have been breathlessly busy. And maybe a virus that attacks the lungs has a message for us.

Retreat. Come home. Now is the time to observe our habits and renegotiate the relationship we have with ourselves. Most of us have been trying to outrun the quiet where self-reflection and the truth reside and where we observe the ways in which we may have become unconscious.

This great pause reminds us there is nowhere to hide. There is not enough booze, junk food, Netflix, busyness, or business to disguise the fact that we must rise to the responsibility of taking care of ourselves. The cacophony of our lives has drowned out the desperate plea for a pace that nourishes rather than punishes.

Rarely do our teachers appear as we would expect or want. Cloaked as a virus, this teacher expects us to show up for class. And we want to learn everything we can.

Here is our homework that takes us beyond the basics and leans towards the bodacious:

Organize: Our delusion of control is gone. Let’s gain some mastery over our space by organizing one spot every day. Setting a timer for 15 minutes, we can liberate ourselves from whatever no longer serves us, appreciate what we have, and set ourselves up for feeling in control.

Plan the day: Embrace the gulp of white space on our calendars as a canvas. A vision for the day provides scaffolding in a world that feels wobbly. Checking in with ourselves daily allows us to get a read on our capacity in terms of energy, external commitments and family demands.

We are collectively compromised so we need to be real. Identifying three things we commit to complete and doing them, we set ourselves up to be successful. Defeated, we stay stuck.

News limits: Our minds are the gates to our immune systems and we must fortify that fortress. Turning off the news reminds us of our responsibility to cultivate our own thoughts, and tame our minds. We need to discern how much is enough for us to feel informed without tipping into panic.

Ask: Does this information empower or debilitate? The same applies to social media. Screw “comparisonitis,” especially now as we need to strengthen and prop ourselves up.

Boundaries: What was a bedroom is now an office. Where there were distinctions like school time, work time, family time, there are now none.

What was meal time is now a day-long buffet. Blurred lines everywhere. Chaos magnifies fear so let’s gain as much clarity as possible.

Establish a start and end time for work, school, etc. Commit to a consistent meal time to quiet the urge to graze. Using the phone’s alarm, enact the time-tested bell ringing to signify transitions.

When the lines between us feel pencil thin and a Sharpie border is what’s needed, we can find a nook or favorite chair that we can call our own. A time out.

This crisis will change us. Let’s make sure we have some say in how.

This collective exhale liberates us from the tyranny of our expectations. We may not be able to go out so let’s go inward.

Katie McDonald, CEO and founder of bnourished, is a self-care strategist.

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