How to Regain Your Sense of Purpose During a Crisis
As a Transitions Life Coach, it’s not surprising to see how big a range of emotional reactions there have been to the upheaval that COVID19 has created on our planet.
It has undoubtedly triggered every survival mechanism we have as humans as we try to make sense of an uncertain world.
But, what’s really been eye-opening to me is the realization of how we are experiencing that crisis at a much deeper emotional level than just a common case of cabin fever.
Yes, we miss our friends, our extended family and our freedom. But, what a lot of us haven’t grasped yet is what’s behind those feelings of unease, displacement and anxiety.
And that is… a perceived loss of identity and purpose.
It’s bad enough when things go south in one aspect of our life, but it’s a humdinger of an experience when ALL aspects of our lives are being ripped out from under us, especially things that create our greatest sense of safety and well-being.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly where we’re at, except it isn’t just happening for a few within the community, it’s happening to everyone.
While intellectually, we know that social isolating and distancing is necessary to control a serious worldwide pandemic, our emotional side is saying ‘no thank you, can I have my life back please?’.
No doubt, we are creatures of habit.
We’re doers. We have schedules. Work, school, errands, travel, social outings. Our society has never been more on the go. Our identities are so engrained in these patterns of life that we’re frankly just coming to realize that we’ve pretty much taken all of it for granted.
So, how do we get that sense of purpose and control back into our lives?
We can’t control the virus or the governmental steps being taken to alleviate it. But, we CAN do things to control our own immediate space on a physical and emotional level.
To do this, you need to consciously and actively create new structure in your life, even if it’s temporary.
How? You can start by getting yourself back on a regular routine.
1) Go to sleep and get up at a regular time.
Often when we're forced to shift out of our normal daily habits, like being laid off from a job, we go into a form of ‘vacation mode’. It might initially feel good not to have to get up to go to work, but your body and mind respond better to structure and consistency during periods of stress. It also increases your ability to focus and develop higher levels of energy to apply towards problem solving and increased self-care, both really good things to have during a crisis.
2) Get plenty of exercise.
The body can go a long way in offsetting the stress that the mind generates by doing consistent exercise. Even if that just means a lot of trips around your neighborhood when you really don’t feel like it, the endorphins your body generates will calm, sooth and relax you. Trust me! You’ll feel much better for the effort!
3) Start a new project.
How many times have you wanted to tackle a home or creative project and procrastinated because you just didn’t have the time?
Well, guess what? You have the time! Take on that organizing project in the garage, paint that spare bedroom, fix that squeaky hinge on the front door, start learning a new hobby or resurrect an old one. Whatever it is, I guarantee it will distract you from the world’s woes and create a sense of accomplishment that you will be grateful for when this is all just another memory in the past!
4) Do a Life Assessment
One of the things that constantly being in a frenzied world can do is to foster a sense of disconnect from within ourselves and with others. Under normal situations, we’re just too busy to take the time to sit still and ponder larger life issues.
Part of why we feel out of control in situations like this is that there’s a good chance that over time we’ve lost a true understanding of what it is we want in our lives, what’s working and not working and the quality of our connections to those we love and appreciate. So, take this precious time to sit down and do an informal life assessment.
Ask yourself: What will you do differently once all of this has passed and life returns to the new normal? Were the things in your previous structure truly serving you? Had you become complacent with life around you and operating on auto-pilot?
What personal skills sets could you work on now that would allow you to return stronger, more grounded and “awake” long after COVID19 has come and gone?
Also ask yourself what has become truly meaningful to you in this state of emergency that’s surprised you? I doubt any of us will look at toilet paper again the same way after this experience, right?
Take advantage of this unique opportunity to understand who you are and who you want to be at the end of this challenge, because change will always find us. It’s where we do our best growing and evolving.
We will survive this and we will learn from it, hopefully even be the better for it!
Stay safe! Stay healthy!
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