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These Times Will Define You

I spent the first week of quarantine feeling anxious, sad and hopeless. I was upset at the disruption of life, afraid of what would happen to my parents and in both shock and denial of how bad this situation is going to get. Then I felt shame for feeling these emotions because I know there are people in far worse situations. This is something humans tend to do – we compare our pain with others, and feel extra shame because there’s always someone worse off. Doing this is the same as thinking you shouldn’t be happy because there is someone else who is happier than you are. Your feelings are your own. It’s okay to feel them. But it’s unhealthy to stay stuck in them.

Staying stuck in your emotions is a processing issue. Emotion means energy in motion. If it has nowhere to go, it gets stuck. If you’ve spent decades coping with emotions by shoving them down, suppressing, distracting, or avoiding them – your body doesn’t process the emotion. It gets stuck. And then it counts on your mind to do the job. This leads to rumination about the past, and imagining scenarios of the future. Both which create anxiety.

These are harsh times, I’m not going to post a fluffy quote telling you that it’s going to be okay. Instead, my hope for you is that you take this time to make decisions that will help you adapt, build your resilience and come out of this stronger than ever. These are the trying times, the tests – that define you.

I’m done with my week of feeling a victim. I had to get it out of my system, which is why I’ve been quiet lately. But today I feel stronger. I made the decision to channel my emotions – into creation. I got out a notebook and started to brainstorm ideas. I drew doodles and posted them on the internet. I looked into some of the free classes being offered and signed up. I am making a decision to not fall into a rabbit hole of lethargy, victimization and waiting for the external circumstances to save my mood. Because that’s not what leaders do. And each and every one of us, are leaders – if we choose to be one. This is your time to shine. Here are some suggestions on how to move your energy so that you can turn all those feels into creation. Make that energy move.

Create something

If you’re quarantined at home and like me, have extra time on your hands, here’s your time to stop hiding. The excuses of not having time to start that blog, or take on that hobby, doesn’t stick now. Write something. Make something. Ideate something. Don’t worry about who’s going to see it or buy it or like it. Post your blog on Medium. Post a How-To Video on YouTube. Get a free Zoom account and host a gathering for your neighborhood. Just get into the motion of creation. Do this daily and you’ll build creative momentum.

Set time for learning

Every day you can actually choose to get smarter by focusing on things that will open your mind, teach you something and spark your curiosity. Read a book, watch a TED talk, or sign up for an online course. There’s now tons of free online classes. Yale’s most popular class ever on wellness and happiness is available for free online.
The Open Center is also offering tons of free intro courses from coaching to reiki to psychic development! You can take this time and become certified in something.

Set a schedule where each day, at that exact time, you spend that time on education. Become smarter, the world needs intelligence more than ever now.

Do one thing to help someone else, every day

Small actions have ripple effects. Sign up on NextDoor and see who’s in your neighborhood who needs support. Call someone. Facetime your parents. Check in on someone randomly and ask how they’re holding up – this is a great time to reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with. Donate. Sign a petition. Write a love letter to a stranger (I’ve just launched this on Renew Breakup Bootcamp). Send someone a surprise pizza!

Don’t wait until you’re motivated, make this a disciplined practice – to get out of your head and outside of thinking about yourself.

You’ve got to save yourself. This is not the time to be passive.

Take small actions so you feel like you have a sense of control, and alchemize your anxiety into something positive and meaningful.