UNPLUG: For Your Health.
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you” – Anne Lamont
One possible answer to so many questions
might be found in this quote from author
Anne Lamont: “Almost everything will work
again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including
you.” My best translation is – take
your time, pause, stop, and step back. And
consider repeating that same action several
times a day.
Regardless of your life, work, and family circumstances,
we are all in challenging times,
and, at the moment, the majority of us are at
least mildly “stir crazy.” And, there are more
difficult decisions ahead. We have jobs to do,
families to care for, community responsibilities,
and challenges from all sides of government,
including the outcome of the elections;
and, at the same time, we are challenged
with the necessity to make wise choices,
manage self- care, and to find ways to maintain
connections with the people we love.
In the midst of sorting things out and establishing
priorities and best practices, there is an
abundance of both scientific health necessities
and psychological “must dos.” Too much information
can create the perfect storm for frustration.
Reinforcing that concern, a client recently
shared that a daily link on her phone – IDEAS
FOR SELF-CARE – had become more annoying
than helpful. Consequently, my suggestion: If
you are annoyed by the do’s and don’ts for getting
through this quite-taxing, anxiety-provoking
pandemic and the demands and changes
dictated for staying healthy – and, I must add,
alive – it’s simply time to acknowledge that too
many self-care instructions/suggestions/dictates
– including this one – are putting many
on overload. And, in spite of that reality, paying
attention is essential, because the situation we
face in our states and in the country is with us
for a longer haul than we might want.
Regardless of your personal approach to the challenges, my suggestion is to “unplug”, step back, reflect, and focus.
As holidays approach, the best thing for many, especially
the extroverts among us, would be a big or even
small event – plans for holiday and family celebrations
and special occasions … football games and other sporting
events. Most people are anxious to talk, and celebrate,
and hug people we love and like. Regardless,
those historic, typical, traditional things we have been
accustomed to embrace aren’t the best things to actually
DO without unprecedented precautions.
If you DO pay attention to science and trustworthy
news, and I deeply hope you do, you already know that
recommendations for holidays are to avoid gatherings if
you don’t know precisely where people have been and
who they have interacted with – including your families.
Acknowledging there’s a growing and fairly natural resistance
to such precautions, I still struggle when I read the
governor of New York had to shut down a 10,000-person
wedding. That plan, at least to me, is a bit “off the page,”
even for those of us who might be high risk takers or perhaps
feel “science” is hard to manage, even believe.
Regardless of your personal approach to the challenges,
my suggestion is to “unplug,” step back, reflect, and
focus. Take the pressure off for the things you think you
should be doing and focus on the basics of health and
self-care even when they feel more restrictive than you
want. And give yourself credit if you believe you’ve done
a quite good job managing a truckload of restrictive
time already. The winter months will be more challenging,
and as long as we trust science, it’s possible to dial
back, find simple efforts at self-care, and manage the
restrictions necessary for health and well-being.
Science tells us the basics: wear a mask, social distance,
and wash your hands. Psychology is telling us countless
things to do – often far too many to sort through. Consequently,
my suggestions are to address the areas of your
life where you feel pressure, and then prioritize your own
self-care in balance with the efforts you make to show up
for those you live with and work with daily.
The point of what to do is to focus on just one thing at
a time. Once you feel the one thing is helping, move on
to an additional effort. Just don’t try too many things
at once. If you take all the advice from what you read,
including articles like this one, you will likely bog down.
And as you try just one thing at a time, include the simple
task of “unplugging” several times a day – step back and
stare out the window, maybe step outside for a few minutes,
even if it’s not ideal weather. Clear your head. And,
as you unplug, try this breathing technique: Breathe in to
a count of four; hold your breath to a count of seven; and
exhale through your mouth, slowly, to a count of eight.
Repeat this exercise four times.
Finally, acknowledge that if we are to get through this
challenging season and still enjoy our families, friends,
and holidays, we have to have a plan. It needs to be simple,
basic, easy to act on, and it needs to acknowledge
that we are in a challenging health crisis that demands
the best from all of us.
And as always, reach out if you need to talk.