Washing your Mind as well as your Hands

As we enter yet another stranger week than the last, I’ve noticed that while everything is constantly changing, it’s interesting how quickly the changes become the ‘new normal’.  We humans are born to adapt… coming together by staying apart is us adapting. 

But because I know it’s as important to wash our minds, as well as our hands (or keep sane as well as safe) I’m planning to release another MidLife Hack each day this week to help you through these changing, challenging days. 

Below are a one-place stop summary of last week’s:

Emergency Hack – What to do when you want to tear your hair out. 

MidLife Hack #1 – Get back in control 

MidLife Hack #2 – Thrive, don’t just survive 

MidLife Hack #3 – TEAM versus TYRANNY

MidLife Hack #4 – Facing Fear 

MidLife Hack #5 – Choose Your Problems

 

MidLife Hack #1 – – Get back in control 

First hack up is how to CIA the hell out of your life. No, I don’t mean you call the Feds. When something threatens to change our expectations of how something should be, we often spend most of our energy and time in the zone we can’t change – reality. But the sooner we accept the situation (we absolutely don’t have to like it), the sooner we leave the space of powerlessness and fear (and even rage), and get back to thinking straight in the spaces where we can influence and control, and make good decisions. So CIA the situation get’s you back in the driving seat, rather than being thrown around the back seat of a hijacked car without a seatbelt. C- what can you control? I – what can you influence? A – what do you need to accept. CIA the hell out of everything….. especially in these fast changing times. Our brains can trick us (mine tricks me all the time, especially when it tells me the glass of wine is absolutely necessary and does count as one of our five a day). We often believe stress is a bad thing, and that we are meant to be happy all the time; therefore when we are scared, or stressed, we think we must get out of that space quickly. But we can’t because in the process of being stressed, our rational brain parts have shut down to allow for the evolutionary Fight/Flight/Freeze reaction to kick in – and that makes us even more stressed because we can’t figure out what to do. But stress is there for a reason… we just have to learn how to handle it. (Consider it a bit like a puppy.. unless YOU take charge of the puppy (stress) it will pee all over your carpet and eat your good shoes.) Author of The Upside of Stress, Prof Kelly McGonigal explains that stress is a natural process, and that it can be healthy… (but like anything in life, the key is moderation!). “Stress happens when something you care about is at stake. It’s not a sign to run away—it’s a sign to step forward.” That’s the beauty of this MidLife Hack – To Accept quickly the reality (you don’t have to like it), and then focus your thoughts and energy on what you can influence, and what you can control.

 

MidLife Hack #2 – Thrive, don’t just survive 

This Hack is about thriving during this time, not just surviving. I’m not referring to a medical sense of survival, but a mental. My goal at the end of this is to not only still have a functioning family (working from home and homeschooling notwithstanding!), but be able to look back and know that we did it well, and even enjoyed parts of it. So this Hack is about dealing specifically with the challenge of working from home, possibly with partners, and also possibly while homeschooling kids. The three priorities are: * Routine * Relationships * Rest All will impact each other. Routine will allow you to feel a sense of purpose and calm amid a confusing new way of living. Establish it as quickly as possible. Research shows that simply getting up, making your bed, getting dressed makes a huge difference to your mindset and how you approach your day. Even more important with kids! Relationships cannot become collateral damage, while we bounce our frustrations and fear off the four walls and each other. Valuing the relationship above everything else will help you make decisions between one action and another. For me, this probably means taking a chill pill about dirty dishes and crisp packets lying around – nurturing family fun over nagging. Rest is so important in such intense circumstances, especially when we are scared and worried. Getting to bed at a reasonable time, taking time out from everyone else, getting a break from the intensity of it all, is really important too. So thrive by focussing on routine, relationships and rest.

 

MidLife Hack #3 – TEAM versus TYRANNY

If your houses are anything like mine, then the halo of enthusiasm and grit for home-working and homeschooling may have already started to possibly tarnish! We’ve realised it’a actually bloody hard work, trying to sort their school work out, keep everyone motivated and entertained, while getting our work done, or just the extra workload of having everyone in the house. But even without this Corona Challenge, this hack is important for those of us who believe we have to carry everything….. ie, most women!!

 

MidLife Hack #4 – FACING FEAR

Fear is something many of us are feeling in waves at the moment; but this hack is useful for all types of fear, especially the every day fears we get over everyday challenges. Fear does one of three things to us if we allow it to: It will cause us to freeze. It will cause us to retreat. Or, it will cause us to push forward. Bar being chased by a lion, when a hasty retreat is probably the wisest move, we want fear to push us forward. Certainly in the last week alone, I’ve faced several fears relating to overcoming learning new technology, figuring out how to homeschool, and deciding to self-isolate from news for a day! Here are three tips to hack those fears: Feel it. Fear is a valid, human experience. It’s telling you something. Stop, listen and acknowledge that fact that this is how you are feeling. 2. Forward it. Imagine what would have happened for you to no longer feel the fear. If I’m doing a talk for example, I imagine myself at the other side of it, and look back and see what I did to get there. I felt overwhelmed last week about having to learn about Zoom webinars. I imagined myself giving the webinar and realised if I freeze or retreat I won’t be able to do it – the only way to get to the imagined successful state is to learn about it, and be ok about making a mistake. This means you have to jump right in and … 3. Face it. Taking the action to proactively start facing the fear actually reduces the fear. The greatest strength of fear is before you jump. Nelson Mandela said: courage is not the absence of fear; but the triumph over it. We’re in this together. Fear is normal… feel it, forward it and face it. You’ll feel better on the other side of it.

 

MidLife Hack #5 – Choose Your Problems

This is taken from Mark Manson’s books, and is based on the idea that no-one’s life is perfect. Whatever path / choices we make, there are going to be problems… but the key is to choose the problems you want to live with. For example, (prior to the Corona Virus measures), I chose the problems of working from home as a single parent to three kids, so that I could work around their needs, over the problems of working in an office all day. That doesn’t mean working from home with kids is easy or without problems, but that those are the problems I choose (having headspace in the afternoons when they are home, planning meetings etc) over the problems of being out all day (childcare in the afternoons, getting them to school in the mornings etc). You either choose which problems you can live with and have control over, or you loose control over your problems and feel less empowered. Problems will always exist, no matter what course we follow. Choosing which problems to live with gives us a bit more control. So, at the moment, we might not have choice about being at home, but we can choose which problems we can live with most – establish a routine for the kids for example and the issues associated with that, or let them do their own thing and the issues associated with that. Choose your problems; or loose the chance to own them.

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