It's okay not to do anything. Right now, we're living through history, which is both unpredictable and stressful. It's also turning out to be a time when everyone feels pressure to do something more than what they're doing.
Here's the thing. You don't need to learn a new language, take up complex model building or learn how to bake the perfect loaf of bread – especially if you weren't already interested in doing those things. These are challenging times for everyone. From dramatic schedule shifts to suddenly learning how to become an at-home worker/teacher/caregiver, everyone is feeling the strain.
As a military community, changing on the fly is part of what we do – which is one of the reasons so many of us might feel like this new-normal isn't too far from the old standard. There's this huge push to making the most of the "extra" time that's now available to us because we're all forced to shelter in place.
Now more than ever, you deserve to give yourself a mental break. Military communities are adept at handling the unknowns that come with deployments, overseas postings, and other emergencies, but no one ever plans for a pandemic. Some of us might have schedules that aren't as compressed, or you might have so much more on your plate because everyone is home, and no one is going anywhere.
Self-care means that you should take time to tend and nurture yourself, so you're in the best mental space possible to care for others. There's a reason that airlines tell us to secure our own masks first. It's the most critical adage to remember as we continue to navigate these unknowable times.
No matter what your self-care looks like, from searching for the ends of the internet to binge reading listicles, the point is that it's important you carve out some space for you. Remember that you don't need to accept every single invite for streaming fitness classes or group meetings. There's nothing wrong with saying no right now.
Not sure where to start? You're not alone. The truth is that the path to mental rest is different for each of us. The simplest advice: pause and take a break. Evaluating how you're feeling – especially when you're stressed – is the first step to understanding how best to cope. One of the disadvantages of our very connected world is that we have access to content all the time. It's okay to take a break from scrolling, refreshing, and reading the latest coverage about the current conditions.
Comparison is hard in our digital culture, but remember that your family setting and your life isn't the same as others. Just because someone down the road is able to manage learning four new languages and is creating meals from scratch every day doesn't mean you need to do that, too.
Research suggests that even just ten minutes of meditation a day can help improve your overall brain chemistry, which in turn might offer you the bit of respite you need during these challenging times. Check out this 10-minute mindfulness meditation channel.
Feeling pressured to be productive is as much a coping mechanism as it is a way to reimagine normalcy. The thing is, we might never return to a pre-COVID world, which means that this pandemic is likely to change the world completely. It's going to change the way we move, connect, learn and build. Give yourself a chance to breathe, to accept that nothing is the same today as it was at the start of the year, and nothing will look the same come December.
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