- Structure: Use time-blocking to plan out your day
- Transition Time: Create rituals to help switch between tasks
- Accountability: Check in regularly with an accountability buddy
- Connection: Find creative ways to socialize
- Cues: Create clear signals that it’s time to work
This is aimed at people with ADHD, but I'd say it's helpful for anyone. The basic elements presented here are:
I have been sharing this document with friends, clients, and anyone who needs it for years. I'm getting a lot of messages on every portal asking for recommendations for therapists right now. I'm slammed myself, so I'm not really able to respond to everyone individually, but here's a really good starting place. Psychology Today's Find a Therapist is always a great resource, but a few days ago, I received an email from them asking me to update whether I'll see clients remotely. I updated mine, but I'm currently 100% full. Here's a tip: A lot of wonderful therapists who are willing to see people remotely live in less densely populated areas, and many of their usual local clients have barriers to using telemedicine options: bad internet connection, lack of comfort with technology, lack of time given circumstances, etc. So that means there are therapists who live outside your area who may be able to serve you and your loved ones right now. It's probably easier if you stay in state because of insurance plans, but when you search, search for therapists all over. Because why not?! And on Psychology Today right now, I think you can search by those who will see clients remotely. And honestly, I'm frustrated with those who won't adapt right now to see people remotely. It's not that hard, and it's a huge service given the state of the world. As always, therapists are notoriously slow to return calls because they tend to be in session a lot during the day. If they are homeschooling and what-not as well, they may be even worse, so reach out to a bunch of them at once and see who calls or emails back. Cast a wide net!
Find a Therapist
A client of mine wrote themselves a set of journal prompts and invited me to share them:
Quarantine Journal Prompts
This article expresses a thought I've been having a lot since this all started: I miss my regular life. I miss it so much. I miss talking to random people on the street or clerks in a store. In normal times, even when I'm staying in, I enjoy friends posting pictures of their adventures out in the world with other people. All of that has stopped. Those connections aren't gone. They look very different now. But I miss the normal way they looked. It's grief. I'm mourning my normal life.
That Discomfort You're Feeling is Grief
FACE COVID: How to respond effectively to the Corona crisis is a wonderful and free PDF download from the leaders of ACT therapy (my therapy model of choice these days). It's a great resource for individuals, therapists, and just humans in general. It's about 12 pages and being translated into lots of languages really quickly. Share as much as you'd like.
The current global pandemic has the capacity to cause many people to feel despair. What separates those who fall into despair from those who weather this storm more successfully? I believe the difference is how adaptable each person is. If your expectations remain the same as they were only a few weeks ago, you will be disappointed. Your expectations must shift to reflect a more realistic and current state of things. I keep thinking of one of the first scenes in my very favorite Christmas movie, Muppet Christmas Carol. Bob Cratchit (played by Kermit), asks his boss Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Michael Caine) about taking Christmas Day off.
Cratchit (Kermit): It appears to be closing time.
Scrooge (Kaine): I’ll see you at 8 tomorrow morning.
Cratchit (Kermit): Tomorrow is Christmas.
Scrooge (Kaine): 8:30 then.
Cratchit (Kermit): If you please, Sir. Half an hour off hardly seems customary for Christmas Day.
Scrooge (Kaine): How much time off is customary?
Cratchit (Kermit): The whole day.
Scrooge (Kaine): The entire day?
Cratchit (Kermit): If you please, Mr. Scrooge. Why open the office tomorrow? Other businesses will be closed. You’ll have no one to do business with. It’ll waste a lot of expensive coal for the fire.
Scrooge (Kaine): It’s a poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every December the 25th, but as I seem to be the only person around who knows that, take the day off.
Business owners, board members, and many others who are responsible for both profits and providing income to employees, I’m so sorry you are having to make these difficult decisions right now. It sucks so much that you may have to choose to stop serving your customers and therefore, stop providing income to your employees. You may have to furlough them. You have have to come up with a completely different business model. Or you may need to put your business into hibernation for now.
As Bob Cratchit said, “Other businesses will be closed. You’ll have no one to do business with. It’ll waste a lot of expensive coal for the fire.” That income stream may not be available, no matter what measures you take. That’s not your fault. It’s just what is happening right now.
We’re all dealing with this same thing all at once. Some people happen to do things that mean they can keep working. Many others don’t. It’s completely random. Even some highly skilled people are losing all of their business all at once. None of you did anything wrong. You just happen to be good at something that isn’t able to happen right now.
To my thinking, they way to get through this is to find some way to use your skills, talents, and strengths to find a sense of purpose right now. For most people, that requires a lot of flexibility. I had to move my entire business model from an in-person model to a remote model in one weekend. I’ve reached out to my Yoga and Pilates teachers to see how I can continue to contribute to their income. I’m talking with my tenant about ways to keep her housed while still being able to pay my mortgage. You’ll need to get creative. I saw a friend who does movement work offer to drop off sterilized props and items for self-massage, then teach using Zoom. Restaurants are switching to takeout options, large portions for families, meal kits. This time may even mean that you do something that you haven’t ever done before. Think broadly, ask around, talk about ideas with your friends. What can you do from home? Can you call an older relative on FaceTime once a day? I’m not just talking about making money. I know you need money to live. We all do. But I’m really hoping we’ll all pull together to help each other through. If you want to avoid despair, you’ll need to find a way to experience purpose.
I don’t know what all of those creative solutions will look like, but I know that it’s good to ponder them right now. In the type of therapy I do, I talk a lot about identifying values. Once you know what your core values are, you try and make choices that move you in the direction of your values. I value connection. So I set up a Marco Polo group for my family, and I’ve set up a Netflix viewing party to watch a show later tonight. Doing that makes me feel like me, and it saves me from despair.
I hope that even during this very difficult time in our history on this planet, you can find some ways of spending time that feel meaningful to you. You are safe where you sit. You don’t have to have this all worked out immediately. Be patient with yourself and with those around you. We’re all learning so much right now. It’s daunting, but I am so interested to see how we all are once this has passed.
Been talking to many clients this week with bosses who aren't quite getting it yet about COVID-19. While I'm convinced they will get it soon, it's really not time to be dilly-dallying around the social distancing rules. People can be infected for up to 12 days (and contagious) before showing symptoms. In this post, I'll share a little rant I wrote on Facebook last night, as well as an article I found tonight that said something similar. First, the rant:
Honestly, if your employer is making you go get a positive test before you get to stay home, pardon me, but screw ‘em. If you have symptoms, you are saving your entire company the hassle of 100% employee quarantine for two weeks. We can not wait for every employer to move from denial to acceptance right now. Be the voice of reason in your office. Think of it as conscientious objection. No means no. Flattening the curve in the US is far more important than any single project at your job. The bosses are slow to react, and I really really get it. It’s going to be money lost. But if you are a boss, sort out your personal baggage about this while working from home and trust that this tsunami is coming. To do otherwise is actually the worst choice right now. Don’t be the underreactor who sent someone into the battle, then sent them home to their partner, their housemates, their grandmother. You will regret it.
And now the excerpt from How to Plague from Buzzfeed:
Our company is now officially working from home. However, in my department, they are going to require a few of us to get together for a meeting somewhere offsite tomorrow. Do I just go? Do I protest? I’m not sick, but we know people who are asymptomatic can spread this disease. I know some people have no choice for work, so do I just suck it up and submit to this?
Your boss is 100% wrong. You should not be getting together to work offsite if you have the ability to work remotely. The issue, of course, is how to protest without seeming like a shitty employee who just wants to goof off all day in pajamas.
My advice is to leverage a time-tested tactic for establishing workers’ rights: strength in numbers. Start by discreetly asking your other team members how they’re feeling about your boss’s plan. You’ll probably find that a lot of your colleagues feel the same: They are worried about it but don’t want to be the only one to complain.
Use this leverage to tell your boss as a group that you don’t feel comfortable.
Maybe your boss is a coldhearted jerk, but I’ll hold out hope that they’re just unaware of the risks of gathering at this point in time. The situation is changing really fast. I mean, Jared Leto just found out about this whole thing on Monday! Send your boss an email with links to news articles like this and this to help make your point, and say that the team has raised concerns about their own health and that of their families.
Your case will be a lot stronger, though, if instead of just saying no, you offer some viable alternatives. How about a Zoom video chat meeting, or even something like a team-building exercise where everyone video chats during their lunchtime? Hey, if we’re all living in a dystopian timeline, might as well go for it with a whimsical background on Zoom.
This article is filled with profanity, and I'm sorry about that, but I have seen nothing better so far that expresses what I believe we are all feeling. A snippet:
We’re all in mourning from the death of normalcy. We’re all knocked off balance, like someone just kicked your bike as you were riding it. You ended up in the ditch. We’re all in the ditch with you. It’s okay to just sit here in the ditch for a while and say, “Fuck.”
It's OK That You're Not OK by Chuck Wendig
Choir is canceled for the season. I was going to be singing in the pit for the MacBeth ballet. That's not happening. The concerts with the symphony likely aren't happening. My yoga studio is closed. Pilates studio is NOT closed, which frankly is not a good look at all right now. Restaurants closed to all but take-out. All concert venues closed. I've moved my practice completely online. I've seen a few posts from people in the larger cities indicating how much their lives have changed and assuming it's not like that everywhere. Well, I can say from Raleigh, NC that things are like that here, too. And in every corner of the world. None of us are alone in this. Just because you can't see your friends with your eyes doesn't mean they aren't there. They are experiencing many of the same things. No one is free from worry about finances. No one is free from worry about the health of either themselves or their loved ones or both. Let's take care of each other and check on each other. And let's buy those gift certificates from our local businesses if we can afford them. As stressful as this all it, I'm loving the creativity people are showing, bringing their skills and their support online, opening up paywalls so that everyone helps everyone get through.