By Melissa Davies, Wise Ways Consulting
Here’s what I know. COVID-19 will abate and American society will reopen. I say reopen because life as we know it will be slow to return to normal, if ever. We will have a pre-virus and posts-virus culture, just as we have a pre-911 and post 9-11 culture.
First things first
Pay attention to your feelings and what is going on inside of you. These are daunting times and there will be moments where it feels incredibly overwhelming. Acknowledge those feelings and accept them; don’t try to say “just get over it, we’ll be okay on the other side.” Grief is real and needs to be respected.
When society does reopen, where will you be standing or still sitting on your couch?
If you have a professional job, chances are you are navigating work from home, learning the ins and outs of Zoom backgrounds, policing your bored children, and waving to your neighbors across the street. Don’t spend your day sitting in a chair, talking to people on a screen. Take time to unplug.
If you are one of the newly 102,000 unemployed in Virginia, hold on! It is natural to worry about paying your rent and living expenses. It’s normal right now to feel scared and uninspired to leave the couch. Look ahead, when this is over, where do you want to be standing?
- Take an online course. You can find thousands of free ones on hundreds of subjects from Arabic to Zoology
- Learn a new skill, whether it’s mastering Excel or playing the guitar
- Read, escape into a story, and allow your mind to stray from the stress
- Meditate, pray, breathe – learn to be still
- Exercise; aside from the pollen, spring in Northern Virginia is beautiful. Get outside but make sure you practice social distancing while you’re out there!
- Call family and friends or meet online and build personal connections
- Help a neighbor with chores or shopping
Here’s what you can control.
Your news intake: Not everyone is an optimist. If your glass isn’t naturally half-full, limit your news. Make sure that you’re listening to, and reading, quality information sources. Read the CDC guidelines and the declarations from your own locality or state. Make sure you take time to turn off the numbers and talking heads.
Your health: Wash your hands. Clean frequently touched surfaces. Stay physically away from others. This virus isn’t what some online are calling it, the spicy flu.
You place in the community: Don’t hoard supplies, whether it’s toilet paper or flour. I’ll say that again, DON’T HOARD. Be thoughtful of everyone in the community, the healthcare workers who also need to shop, the elderly or immuno-compromised who must limit their shopping or rely on others. People panic buying and stockpiling food in their homes causes shortages. This stresses people who already have high levels of stress. Respect stores that are limiting quantities. They aren’t being mean, they are being thoughtful.
Your attitude: Be kind. When you are out exercising or shopping, respect the six-foot distance that the CDC is telling us is necessary. Smile and make eye contact; that’s still safe. Shopping is not a competitive sport.
Your future: Where do you want to be personally or professionally when the stay-at-home orders are lifted? You have time to think about this and act. Life will be different on the other side of this. What do you want your next ‘new normal’ to look like?
Now is the time to imagine and create!
Melissa Davies is an executive leadership coach and facilitator as well as the author of How Not to Act Like a BLEEP at Work. She resides in Prince William County and runs Wise Ways Consulting, which specializes in leadership, management and team development, executive coaching, group facilitation and high-engagement training. She can be reached at [email protected] or through wisewaysconsulting.com