My thoughts on the stay at home order and the effects it has had on relationships, creativity and how it has impacted business, at least for me. An account of my experience and what I hope to do to make it better.
I spend a lot of time alone. I know that’s a weird way to start this but it’s true. We were told that we had to stay home unless we were doing something ‘essential’ and I thought “This will not change my life much as I work from home and genuinely enjoy being home. I can still go to the grocery store. I can still drive. I can still exercise. I can still listen to music. I can still go for walks and spend time outside. I can still create. Nothing will change.” I did feel bad for other people because I understand that not everyone enjoys spending time alone. Being inside your own head for any length of time can be difficult but it helps me to be creative.
I have to admit that I was wrong. Parts of my life haven’t changed but I found that I am not doing many of the things I said I can still do, the things I usually do…like create. Being empathetic towards other people can be a really good thing, but for me, sometimes, it’s too much. I have a tendency to pick up other people’s emotions and accept them as if they are my own. If you’re mad, I’m mad. If you’re sad, I’m sad. I can feel other people’s fear and pain. When this happens, I usually turn off the part of my life that is causing it. For example, if I’m going out to socialize too much I’ll stop for a while. If there are too many art shows I’ll stop scheduling them for a while. If someone is negative, I will distance myself from them. It’s easy to figure out where the negative emotion is coming from and stop it.
Right now, it’s not easy, likely for many of us. There is so much sickness, sadness and fear. As a result of the current situation tensions between people are pretty high. Some people are spending more time together than they are used to and some are spending less time. There is anger because people have different ways of doing things and everything just seems so tragic. It’s tragic that people are getting sick and dying. It’s tragic that many people aren’t working. It’s tragic that the global economy is suffering and as a result people are having to live on less money than they are used to and have to figure out how and where to make sacrifices.
Our mental and emotional state is suffering as we watch our children having to adjust to a whole new world without any real-life experience and an immature emotional state. We have to watch them live without a social life and we can’t fix it. I don’t have the experience for this and I cannot imagine what they’re going through. All we can do is try to make them feel loved and safe. Our patience level is being tested as we struggle to find basic items in stores like toilet paper, some days meat, other days bread. We live in an immediate world where if we need something we get in the car and go get it. If we can’t get it in the store, we order it. It was all pretty easy and I don’t think I appreciated that enough. Now, even ordering online has been delayed as stores adjust to their new reality. What used to take 15 minutes can now take a few hours and careful planning because we need to do things in a cost effective but less physically time-consuming fashion to avoid getting sick or making those around us sick. I have gained much respect for our parents and grand-parents whom have witnessed vast changes in the world and were able to respond. They were able to change their lives and adjust. Although I do believe that life happened at a slower pace back then in general and we are having to go from an exceptionally high speed to a crawl (kind of like going from cable internet back to what would be even slower than dial up). We are not used to this. Our kids are not used to this.
The response to all of this has been delayed and mismanaged by many governments and that causes a distrust and loss of faith in the people we elect to make sure everything runs smoothly. We are politically divided and that seems to affect people emotionally. We have access to the internet and as humans we are problem solvers, we look for answers. We wouldn’t be at the top of the food chain if we weren’t. However, we tend to only look for the answers that support what it is we want to see. We want money, we tend to see that the sickness numbers decreasing. We are worried about health we tend to see the numbers rise. We want to blame someone so we find conspiracy theories that put the blame on someone. ‘China released the virus on purpose. All of the countries are in on this as they are creating a New World Order.’ We are scared and we find things to support that. ‘We want a vaccine but the government is going to microchip us at the same time. They are removing our freedom in order to control us.’ There is no end in sight and no solution so we have to invent one. That makes it so much harder to deal with because we all don’t believe the same thing. Just like people believe in different Gods they don’t all believe the same virus theory but for each individual it makes them feel better having found some answer even if it’s not an answer they preferred. It is exactly what they were looking for, an explanation that supports the way they feel. If any of these are true, I don’t know and it’s likely that you don’t either.
For me, things are supposed to have a beginning, middle and end and the uncertainly is scary. I don’t know what caused it. I don’t know what is going to happen. All I know is that I’m taking it seriously although I’m not looking for answers because even if I did have them there would be very little I could do about it. It’s easy to become upset with someone that isn’t functioning the way you think they should. It’s easy to judge. We need to be there for each other because we’re all suffering in some way and we’re having trouble finding a middle ground.
So, what can we do to lower the stress? How does one stay somewhat sane in a time like this? I honestly don’t have an answer for that. I can tell you what I have been doing (you know, the things that weren’t working). The first thing I decided I needed to do during this time was to shower, get dressed and put on make-up every day, like I’m going somewhere. I’ve always heard that it helps you to be productive when you work from home if you get dressed for work. I don’t know how true that is. I generally get a little work done and I clean. Cleaning makes me feel like I’m doing something to protect health and it’s mindless so it allows me time to think. Showering, making sure my kids are functioning in a new online school environment, cleaning, planning dinners, working a little, staring either at my phone or into space because I don’t know what else to do pretty much sums up my day.
I used to work all the time. It was the ultimate distraction from anything else going on in my life. My business is my life and I would usually do anything to continue. It has been difficult because it’s getting harder and harder to sell the product I make, which is really discouraging. Where is my time best spent? How many pieces do I really need in inventory? I try not to be pushy because I know that everyone is going through a tough time but I know I still need to sell in order to live. I don’t know where the balance is. Perhaps I thought that if I could take care of everyone else I could make this feeling of dread go away and it would help me see things clearly. It seemed to be working for a little while but my creativity and ideas didn’t come back. My mood bounces between semi-depressed and numb several times throughout the day. Okay, so my plan to get through it this way is failing. I needed to recognize that.
Today was different. I did not shower today. I'm not proud of that but it was different. I painted. It’s not a very good painting but it held my attention and took me out of the hopeless state I was in for a while. I created. A quote I know came to mind as I was doing that. “Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” by Earl Nightingale. What have I been doing? Nothing. Cleaning, helping, staring at my phone, worrying. How are any of those things going to help me in the long run? Simply put, they’re not. My goals ran through my mind. The goals I held before everything changed. I have health and fitness goals. I have business goals. I have relationship goals. How am I going to get closer to reaching any of them by staring blankly into space because my mind can’t seem to process everything that is happening? The time is passing! There is nothing that can be done to stop it or put it on pause for a while. I realize that not everyone is in that place and that people process things differently. It may be helpful for someone to lay on the couch and watch Netflix and binge eat cookies and if that’s the case, by all means, do it. Take care of yourself! It’s just not helpful for me. I need to feel productive.
Monday is my favorite day of the week. It has been my favorite since I’ve been self-employed. It’s a day of renewal. A day to focus and work on goals. Normally every Sunday night I clean and make a list for the week of things I want to do (kind of like a meeting with myself). On that list are things such as ‘create a certain number of pieces, post to social media, make contact with whoever I need to, take a quick internet based class in my field of work, what workouts will be done during each day, explore whatever new sales outlet or technique I found, etc”. I haven’t made that list in quite a while. Tonight, I did. I’m motivated right now but may not be in the mood to accomplish those things tomorrow. I’ve decided that if I don’t want to do those things, I will force myself. I think that may be the only way I can get through this. I’m a determined person with quite a bit of self-control. I miss the feeling of being motivated and I need to get it back. My life is not ‘normal’ by most standards but it felt normal to me. So, even if nothing around me is ‘normal’ what is stopping me from creating that feeling? Because it IS a feeling that seemingly has little to do with the outside world. My plan needs to change and I don’t know if it will be effective. I just know that what I’ve been doing isn’t working.
Why am I telling you all of this? I don’t know. Maybe it helps me to put things in perspective, maybe I hope that it helps you to feel less alone, maybe I hope it will make me feel less alone. There’s a benefit in talking to yourself without immediate feedback. We’re in this together and I think we’ll be fine but life is going to be a little rough for a while. If you need someone to talk to, I’m here. I can’t promise to respond immediately but I can promise that I’ll respond. If you have ideas for how to cope during this interesting time, I would love to hear them.
I guess that’s about it. Take care of yourself and those around you. I know you’re doing the best you can. Please try to love the people around you a little harder because everyone needs that right now. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I’ll let you know how the forced motivation goes..