Living amid chronic uncertainty takes its toll on our well-being. Trying to anticipate a future that remains unknown is exhausting. If only we had more details, a simple direction or the ability to control what’s to come. With such uncertain times, we may find it difficult to engage in the things that we usually did to benefit our well-being.
Whatever our unique circumstances, we can find solace in putting our energy toward the factors that we can control. There are choices we can make around the controllable aspects of life that can have a positive impact on our well-being. We can create a daily routine that includes a mindful balance in these three areas: pleasure, achievement and connection. We must recognize that our previous “normal” may not be the same normal that exists now.
Wellness Coaches Martha Vanderheyden and Mary Shafer encourage routines to help achieve greater balance that meets your individual needs.
Remember there are many on-campus resources available to the Notre Dame community to help us find balance in our daily lives, from hotlines to health and well-being professionals who can support and guide us.
Here are some ideas from the Wellness Coaches:
Pleasure — You may have found yourself losing touch with things that used to give you pleasure. Be intentional and plan to do at least one activity each day that gives you the feelings of pleasure and joy. Now that our world is opening up and our resources are becoming more expansive, the opportunities can be invigorating. However, remember your comfort level around different environments. Baby steps are key to reconnecting to the pastimes that were once the highlight of your week. Examples would be reading a book, going to the gym, listening to your favorite music, watching a funny movie or TV show, going out dancing, taking a relaxing bath, going for a walk or meeting up with friends for dinner. Keep it simple and focused on yourself in an environment you are comfortable in.
Achievement — Activities of achievement make us feel good and like we’ve accomplished something. Incorporating these activities into both our workday and home life can have a positive effect on our well-being. Achievement is going to take on a new meaning when getting back to normal. We may find ourselves with new opportunities to feel successful with our day, even with limited interaction. Take opportunities that are comfortable to you. Some in-office examples of mini achievements that also help others could include putting more paper into the copy machine, starting a new pot of coffee or cleaning up around the office. Other examples would be doing some housework, making a new recipe, completing an exercise routine or paying a bill.
Connection — Our need for in-person connection has become overshadowed by the comfort we’ve developed with being alone. With restrictions and precautions, the introvert within us has been rejoicing during these times. Whether we identify as introverted or not, we’ve all fostered this characteristic during the pandemic. Recognizing that our brain needs to re-acclimate to in-person connection is the first step to reestablishing this aspect of life. We need to not only consider our own fragility in this space, but respect that of others as well. Start slowly and allow yourself recovery time between social events, if needed. Don’t be surprised that interactions that seemed normal before now drain your energy as though you’ve run a marathon. We’re all in this together, but on our own time. This innate human need of connection that we enjoyed before the pandemic may take a little practice to foster into a want once again.
Remember that a good balance is the goal. Spending too much time putting energy toward achieving the “normal” that once was may be unrealistic. Our mind and body may be in culture shock when we try to return to some semblance of normal. Take it one day at a time. Doing too much, too quickly can cause an imbalance. This imbalance can negatively impact your overall well-being and complicate this transition. Try to engage in some sort of daily check-in. This can be a helpful tool in navigating the right balance for you. Lastly, enjoy the adventure of discovering your new normal and have fun with it.