Remember to stay grounded and connected during this crazy time
I hope you are well. I have never felt more sincere writing these words than I do now.
So far in this new, surreal world of COVID-19, my dog Moby seems to have emerged as a big winner. He’s feeling healthy, loved and connected. His needs are being met, above and beyond his normal expectations as a stay-at-home dog. Here’s a photo of him on a drive with the family a couple of weeks ago.
Big winner in the era of COVID-19: my dog Moby. Photo credit: Chong Oh
These are truly challenging times for just about everyone. I’m definitely feeling overwhelmed at times, but I wanted to reach out and share some tips from what I’ve learned, and thoughts I’ve had during this time. Most importantly, I wanted to send some good wishes and love to anyone who may be reading this note. I hope you will write back to let me know how you are doing and what’s working for you.
My family is currently going through a serious health challenge of a very important person in our lives, and that’s what’s been hardest for us. We are also worried about one of our best friends, who is directly in the line of fire as a frontline physician taking care of COVID-19 patients in a battered NYC hospital. Several of my friends and clients have suddenly lost their income. Some have loved ones who fell victim to the disease. So many people are going through a really tough time right now.
Here’s what I’ve found to work for me and others during this difficult time.
Don’t judge your/others’ personal challenges and emotions.
Seeing Instagram posts of others enjoying this time at home to cook fancy meals, drink expensive bottles of wine or show off freshly decluttered homes, can feel hard if you or your loved ones are struggling. On the other hand, some of us are constantly minimizing our own anxiety and hardship by comparing them to someone else who has even tougher challenges.
None of these challenges are better or worse. Remember that this is hard for everyone, and everyone is just trying to do their best. Not judging your own challenges and doing things that will help you overcome these obstacles is also helpful. Make space for gratitude, too. If you feel others have bigger challenges than you, don’t feel guilty. Feel grateful, still take care of yourself, then reach out and help people if you have the capacity.
My kids and I attending a virtual bar mitzvah. Photo credit: Chong Oh
Create light structure and set some goals to feel healthy and grounded. But not too much.
There’s a lot of talk about “getting the most out of quarantine time.” I wish that for you, if that’s what you want and if your current life is set up to support that. But I keep seeing folks feeling overwhelmed and defeated by not being as productive as they were before the pandemic. These are unprecedented times. Just surviving, I think, is enough. If you have the ability to do more, I LOVE that. But if not, don’t feel guilty that you are not creating a chiseled body, writing a novel or inventing something.
If you’re a working parent with little ones at home, don’t feel so pressured to squeeze in story time and bake organic treats between back-to-back Zoom meetings. Take an extra ten minutes in the shower for self-care. Put on the TV or iPad for the kids and fit in something that will make YOU feel better. I truly believe that if you are okay, your kids will be okay.
For my family right now, the pattern that’s working is:
Having a regular a wake up time that is slightly later than in-person school
Maintaining big chunks of work and study time, broken up by simple breakfast and lunch.
Each day we do a little bit of exercise and try to speak with the grandparents, too.
When my husband gets home (he’s an “essential” worker), I make dinner and we all watch a movie or sitcom every night, unless we have a video call with friends.
I wish I could be that coach that's creating and leading a new, COVID related workshop or program for leaders, or be that that mom doing something super educational or meaningful with the kids during this time. But professionally the only thing I can commit to right now is supporting my clients who need me. The only thing I can commit to doing with my kids every night is sitting back and watching a movie while holding their hands. I decided that is enough. Little side note: My guidelines for what is appropriate for my kids’ age has become looser since I have no interest in only watching PG rated movies every night. The fast forward button on our remote has never worked harder, ha! (Hilariously, we keep fast forwarding too far and having to rewind back, which means we almost always watch inappropriate parts more than once, oops.)
Stay connected with important people in your life, if that is possible.
I’m usually all about the magic of in-person fun and connection. But like everyone else, I live on Zoom (and FaceTime and Google Hangout) now, and I have come to appreciate and maximize the special qualities of video conferencing. When you are literally banned from meeting with people, being able to see loved ones’ faces gives you the relief you need during this scary time. Being able to see many people on the same screen on Zoom has a great equalizing power, which I really appreciate.
Know the risks before using video tools like Zoom
Here are the very useful ways video communication tools have helped me and my family:
Group coaching sessions – I’ve never facilitated a group meeting on Zoom before so I was definitely nervous going into my first one, but it ended up working beautifully. All of us felt connected and supported via the screen. I’m happy to share tips I learned from the resources provided by Chief, the company I am facilitating these sessions for.
One-on-one coaching sessions – I’ve gotten to meet so many of my clients’ babies and pets during this time, and I have loved getting a peak into their home lives. My kids are big enough that we are sticking to our strict “Don’t come in unless you are bleeding - and nose bleeds don’t count!” policy. Haha.
Check-in with work teams – These calls with your teams can be powerful. I have really appreciated the weekly calls facilitated by The Paradox of Leadership for its small group of coaches.
Telemedicine visits and doctor interviews. Real estate walk-through. – Taking care of business..
Bar mitzvah – It was such a sweet celebration of a dear young friend during a particularly dark week. All of his grandparents were so sweet, asking “Can you see me?” and “Where is (so and so)?”
Reading time with our longtime babysitter & Korean language lessons – Just because we are all home all day together, it does not mean I have the be the one to do all the teaching.
Play dates and lunch dates – Friendships are so important..
Drinks with oldest friends and double dates – These are hard to squeeze in but have been surprisingly fun.
For some of my clients and friends, I’m hearing that back-to-back Zoom meetings, followed by more Zoom happy hours, are depleting and exhausting, especially when you are caring for sick and/or small family members and don’t even have time to take a shower.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, please take care of yourself and ask for a phone call or text instead. Let’s be responsible for taking care of our own needs. Whether it’s by Zoom or texts or phone calls, human relationships are important and essential to our mental and physical health.
Adriene doing yoga with her best friend Benji watching.
Move your body.
If you know me, you know I don’t have a great discipline of working out. But I have been doing a little bit yoga every day with a series of free 20-25 min, beginner-friendly classes called “Home- 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene” on YouTube. What’s super cute is that her dog Benji (another lucky dog!) is seen on the video next to the yoga mat in every class, sleeping, turning or looking out the window. I've also been going on walks with my kids and yes, my lucky dog. I find it to be grounding, and it definitely helps me feel stronger and clears my mind. My kids are doing what they call 15-15-15, which is 15 minutes of our old elliptical machine, followed by 15 repetitions of push-ups and sit ups. Do whatever works for you.
I’m hearing from a lot of folks that they are so happy to see their favorite exercise classes going online, even ones they used to go to in different neighborhoods and cities. There's also a bunch of workout apps that are offering free exercise videos, like FitOn, which even has some of your favorite celebs who can coach you for 20 minutes a day. What are your favorites? How are you moving your body?
Laugh and smile a little.
Yes, the challenges are real and huge. But thinking about them all day, every day won’t actually help. Please give yourself a little break and do things that make you laugh or smile.
For some of us, it will be that Zoom call. For some, it will be watching “stupid” TV shows or listening to podcasts. For my son, maybe it’s playing games on his phone. Finally getting my mother on FaceTime has brought us great joy and laughter. We are giving her tips on how to show her entire face and angling the phone just so she looks prettier. My daughter is teaching her how to put on filters.
A friend was on a stressful work call the other day and looking out the window of her Connecticut home, she saw two bears eating all of the groceries her husband had left out to quarantine just outside the house. The next day, one bear came to the house looking to party again. You can’t make this stuff up, and I start smiling every time I think of this scene playing out. I know it was a stressful moment for her at the time, so I’m so happy she shared this with me.
One show (old but new to us) we’ve been watching as a family is Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. It’s a show about a woman who was kidnapped as a middle school kid by a deranged man and kept in a bunker, and what happens when she comes out to start really living her life in NYC. It’s funny, it’s a little weird, and we all like it.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is available on Netflix
What makes you laugh and smile these days?
Ask questions that clarify and shed light.
If you can, try to carve out some alone time with a notebook to reflect on this crazy time in our lives. Some coaching questions my clients have been finding helpful are:
What’s working? (see above)
What’s not working?
What feels clearer to you during the pandemic?
What’s still important?
What feels even more important?
What goals remain true?
What’s really hard for you?
What am I really about? What is my purpose?
During this time, how can I still achieve my purpose/goals? What can I do differently?
What have I always wanted to do if I had more time at home? Do I still want to do those things? If so, what small things can I do now to move forward on those goals? If not, why?
How do you want to remember this time?
What am I learning about myself?
What are my unique gifts and talents I can put to use now?
I hope you find some of these useful. Please reply and let me know how you are doing. I know it takes me a while to reply, but I really want to know. Especially now.
Please stay healthy and safe, and have some fun too!