What To Do When You Feel Stuck

Also known as…how we feel during those days of COVID-19

There are chapters in life when uncertainty or hardship might feel overwhelming. The act of living turns into a survival act, entangled in thoughts of stress, worry or uncertainty. Over time and as we experience both the good and the bad, we are confronted with two choices when a new crisis occurs: (1) dwell on the negative and become numb to what life might still be gifting us with, or (2) see through and beyond the pain, the uncertainty or the uncomfortable.

Many of us are feeling stuck those days during the COVID-19 pandemic. We wish we could touch the Reset button and go back to normal. I do too…but for now, it is impossible to change what we are going through. However, what we can control is how we respond to those unprecedented times. As Maya Angelou said, “if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude“.

So how to minimize the feelings of being stuck during those COVID-19 days?

Guard your mind: We can only change our attitudes when we take control of our thoughts and actions. Minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day – take guard of what’s going through your mind and hit Replace button every time thoughts of panic or discouragement emerge. Replace those thoughts with what resonates the most with you in your different roles. If you are a parent, you might tell yourself “I am calm and loving” a lot more often those days. If you are a leader having to make critical decisions, you might tell yourself “I am a leader with integrity and critical thinking”. Find your mantra thoughts to source beauty, positivity and strength. For example, you don’t need to be a religious person to find beauty in a verse like this: “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things.” Set aside time to ground yourself in positivity via meditation, prayer, reading,…whatever works for you.

Reassess: Life as we know it has come to a halt. Maintaining the same expectations now as prior to this crisis is unrealistic, irresponsible or dangerous. Do an inventory of the activities, tasks, things you were doing before and realistically adjust your schedule and priorities in buckets of what’s critical, important, non essential or a nice to do,…

– Plan for life after COVID-19: Sooner or later, this crisis shall be through. For some of us unfortunately, it will be with an immensurable amount of loss of loved ones, jobs or businesses. But humanity will not go extinct- many of us, hopefully, will return to normal with just the inconvenience of the lockdown. National economies will recover eventually. In the Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl, an Austrian neurologist and a Holocaust survivor, shares the secret to surviving dramatic experiences: man…can only live by looking to the future and this is his salvation in the most difficult moment.

– Stay grateful: While we can find a gazillion reasons why we feel cheated by life nowadays, there is likely at least a handful of reasons why you should still be grateful for during these times where life itself is under threat. If you have kids, working on a “gratefulness” journal during those days could keep them busy and focused at least for a few minutes 🙂 (win-win).

Establish a routine and set specific objectives: A lot of things have changed. It might be counter to think a routine is even possible. However, a routine and keeping yourself accountable are critical to getting through this crisis. Set specific goals for the day and week both work and home side. Having some clear and specific goals, deadlines, schedules, projects to work on will help you stay focused and give you a sense of control. If you work a few hours per day with the kids at home, set an intention for what you will tackle during those hours as opposed to scrambling to get through everything. Even if you might only be able to accomplish two out of three goals set out for the day, you will relish in the progress and having made it through another day.

– Be a role model: Were you prepared or not, embracing this before or not, you are in the spotlight. How you react and act those days is saying more about who you are than all the accomplishments and accolades from the past. As a parent or as a leader, you are making decisions and exhibiting a certain behavior in response to this crisis. This doesn’t mean to repress negative emotions. During those uncharted times, we are all anxious and worried. However, use this to channel your communications and actions. As you feel those negative emotions rising, step up to encourage your teams or family members knowing the pain points are likely the same. Be a positive role model.

Yes, it’s not the best of times. We don’t know how much and how long this pandemic will affect each one of us. But as in every difficulty, there is some power in the experience and there is a choice moment by moment: (1) be a worrier or (2) be a warrier. Ask yourself how you want to remember those times. As times of worry or times of walking through the fire? As times of relinquishing control or staying in control of your thoughts and actions?

This shall pass as well.

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