My man is going crazy. The teenager already visited crazy on her birthday last week. She’s an extrovert and loves being with friends, making noise and doing social things. But for her 17th birthday, she was stuck at home with “the boomers” as she calls us “old” folks.
There are 6 chairs around our dining room table, and only one was occupied as she sat there with a lonely, planted smile, watching her dad and I sing happy birthday, carrying the candle-lit cake to the table and trying our hardest to make it a happy occasion for her. There was togetherness and connection, but no matter how many friends’ faces were live on her phone’s screen, singing along, the 5 empty chairs with no bodies in them spoke profoundly louder than our singing could ever cover up.
She made the best of it, but we all knew that’s what she was doing: making the best of it, rather than truly enjoying it for what it was.
My man, like most everyone else, has also been making the best of it. Being at home, not working, can’t go anywhere, locked down.
Feeling trapped. Helpless. Stuck.
He’d been doing great, and at first, was truly enjoying it. We have new wall colors, refinished furniture, updated bathroom cabinets and a new sealed driveway, among other home improvement projects he’s been wanting to do forever but didn’t have time. Finally, they’re all done.
And now it’s getting to him.
Some days you make the best of it and some days, well… you just give up and watch TV all day.
Me, on the other hand… between you, me and the rest of the people in this corner of the internet who stumbles on this blog…. I’m loving it.
The quiet. The calm. The slower pace.
This is my heaven. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wished time could stop for a moment so I can catch my breath.
And here we are, breath caught.
Part of the reason I enjoy it is because I’m an introvert, I love solitude and quiet. The other part is because I trust that this is not a forever-demic. This too shall pass. Like every other challenge we face in our lives from the day we were born to the day we die, it too shall pass. I am still me, no matter what’s going on around me, and knowing this, I remain centered and grounded.
Despite this inner knowing, there are some things I’ve been consistently doing since the first day we got locked down to keep my sanity as well as a sense of “me”. I may not be able to control what’s happening around the world but I can control my own sense of well-being, my own actions throughout the day and my own energy. It doesn’t take much.
In fact, you might be searching for that ONE powerful new thing you can do that will magically make everything better or that ONE profound never-heard-before nugget of truth that once you hear it, will instantaneously take away all your anxiety, stress, helplessness and pain.
But sometimes (and usually) the most powerful transformation occurs from the ordinary actions we do every day, consistently.
While everyone’s looking for that one big breakthrough that will create massive change in their lives forevermore, I’ll give you 10 small, easy actions you can do TODAY that will change your day, one day at a time, day after day after day, through the COVID-19 stay at home orders and hopefully, this is the beginning of a movement that leads toward more self-love, self-care and self-kindness.
Here are 10 ridiculously simple things you can do to feel better while you’re stuck at home:
1. Get dressed
Every day. Don’t just put on your “day pajamas” or your “lounge-around-the-house sweats”. Put on real clothes, as if you were going out in public. This includes a new pair of underwear.
2. Put on makeup
In the morning, every day. If you don’t usually wear makeup, at least wash your face. If you’re a man who typically shaves your face, keep shaving regularly.
3. Brush your hair
Every day. Don’t just put it up in a ponytail after you wake up. If you prefer to ponytail it, at least brush it first.
4. Take a shower
However often you typically shower, keep doing it. For some, that’s every day. For others, it’s every other day. Keep your usual showering schedule as if you were still going out to work, to eat, to shop, etc.
5. Move your body
Every day. It doesn’t have to be an hour long intense sweat-filled workout, unless you like that sort of thing. It could be 20 jumping jacks or 10 push ups or a walk around the block with the dogs. It could be a couple of yoga poses, floor stretches, or putting on a good song and dancing like no one’s watching. Walking from the bed to the couch does not count. If for health reasons, you can’t get out of bed, imagine you have an angel holding your ankles, pulling your legs toward the foot of the bed, and another angel holding your wrists, pulling your arms toward the head of the bed. Feel that stretch multiple times a day, elongating your body in opposite directions, reaching into the earth as well as the sky.
6. Drink water
A lot of it. Every day. It’s easy to forget to drink water especially when the days and hours blend in to each other. Dehydration makes you feel lethargic and tired, which doesn’t help your mood when you’re trying to “make the best of things.”
7. Get outside
Every day. It could be a simple act of stepping outside your front door, back patio or balcony. Breathe in the air that’s being given to you freely from the earth and its atmosphere. Look up into the sky and take in its expansiveness.
8. Connect with nature
Every day. At worst, sit for a moment with a potted plant in your house, water it, groom it, try to feel the life force flowing through it. At best, go outside and walk barefoot in the grass, hug a tree, take a hike, listen to the birds.
9. Connect with yourself
Take a moment, every day, to check in with yourself. This could be a quick “hello, how are you?” in the mirror as you’re doing steps 2 & 3. Make sure you wait for the answer. It might surprise you. Or throughout the day, make a point to stop what you’re doing and simply bring your awareness to yourself, take a deep breath and feel your lungs expanding, then release. It seems simple, but often we move through our day on autopilot and forget to be mindful and present to ourselves. There’s a great saying, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.”
10. Thank God
Every night. If you don’t believe in God, thank the Universe, the Divine, Source, Spirit, Life Force, energy, whatever. It doesn’t matter. The point is as you go to bed every night, thank SOMETHING greater than yourself. Maybe you’re thankful the world’s most boring day ended, or maybe you’re thankful you made it through another difficult day or maybe you’re truly thankful for this life. Doesn’t matter. Thank God, even if you don’t want to. You might even think in defiance, “I don’t believe in you and I don’t want to thank you but Tree told me I have to, so here I am, thank you God for nothin’!” And believe it or not, that’s sufficient. When we consciously acknowledge a power (or even a disbelief in a power) greater than ourselves, we are expanding our awareness outside our puny little self, outside our puny little life, and in so doing, we become greater than the puny little beliefs and stories we’ve created about who we are and what this life is all about. And as our perspective broadens beyond this physical reality, we begin to realize everything is in perfect, divine order and we are perfect, divine beings.
Don’t underestimate the power of small, ordinary actions done consistently over a period of time. Transforming our lives is a daily practice and it doesn’t take moving behemoth mountains. Sometimes, more often than not, one tiny little act can have the power to catapult us toward the massive transformation we seek.
As one of my clients said to me this week, “In a gesture of kindness and love to myself, I got dressed and put on makeup today.”
Sometimes that’s all we need.