Disclaimer: I sometimes find it difficult to work through the “bad days”—especially right now. Most of us goal-oriented people struggle with creating unrealistic expectations and learning how to give ourselves permission to “be off.” If a bad day arrives, it will pass.
Yesterday started out right—the sun was out, I logged into Zoom for my virtual workout, showered, and started seeing clients. I was feeling optimistic and finding it easy to focus on the positive. I was in a good place.
Around lunchtime, I noticed I was starting to slide. I realized we didn’t have any good lunch options. Everyone in the house was hungry. While this was certainly not critical, nor something that would normally throw me off, it did at the time. The cycle of events became a trigger and a place for me to start a negative thought cycle: I’m tired. I’m tired of figuring out every meal. I’m tired of checking in to make sure everyone has stayed on track with their schoolwork. Trying to survive, much less thrive with work and home life right now is tough.
I realized I needed emotional and physical space. I did a quick assessment—no space existed. I had clients lined up for part of the afternoon and the rest of my afternoon was tied up helping my children with schoolwork. In my mind, there was nothing I could cut out to create a break. There was no down time. I began to have visions of a quiet room where I could read one of my favorite books for thirty minutes. I would have even taken 10 minutes, at that point.
My own tiredness was complicated by the fact that my children were also feeling worn-out. At that time, they needed what I didn’t have readily available—energy, attention and support. While they were both having their own “hard day,” my attitude was definitely not helping the situation. I wish I could tell you everyone took a pause and we were in a better spot an hour later. That was not the case…
While trying to set some limits with one child, their behavior only escalated. The other was frustrated with me because I was not listening and being patient. On a good day, I can be rational, respond calmly, and keep my cool. This was not that day! I was incapable of this in this moment.
I started to ask myself, “What caused this day to shift?” I knew it was not lunch options. My thought then moved to, “Why not?” I reminded myself we are in the middle of a pandemic—we are being pushed to our limits and having to change our normal routines. My angst was alive and present—I later realized this was true for my children as well.
I developed a mantra. “Everyone has bad days and this one was really bad. Tomorrow will be better.” I knew this would help me push forward.
That night, after we had all cooled down, I sat down to talk with my children. Labeling the day, normalizing it, and changing the tone created a place for me to be able to finally listen to them. Through this discussion, I realized one of my children has been severely missing their friends, and the other was looking forward to having some time with me to connect and decompress. I looked at the schedule for the week and decided to build in some breaks.
We all need to give ourselves space—places to feel, to listen, and to breathe. This is always true, but in the middle of a pandemic, it is vital. Over the last few weeks, racial injustice, protests and our country being in a divisive state has only added tension to our already high personal levels of stress. It is critical that we come up with healthy ways to cope and move through the tough days before they arrive.
It doesn’t have to be a long period of time or something drastic. Just a few minutes is fine. Be inventive. I encourage you to find your own ways to find relief. And, I look forward to hearing you share ways you have managed to find relief or set aside time for yourself and your families during this time.
Until next time…