As the Corona-virus is infiltrating and decimating populations across the globe, whole generations of people are feeling anxiety like they have never known.
So when times have never been more uncertain and communities and individuals alike are moving towards total isolation; how do we keep our contented feelings up and our frustrations down?
3 simple words: LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS
Simple to say, maybe less simple to do but definitely an idea worth exploring. You see, often when people identify irritations and annoyances in their lives they stem from having an inflated expectation of a situation or another individual and that expectation is not being met. Often it is not that the situation let us down, but that our expectation of the situation exceeded that which reality delivered and the gap between the two breeds resentment and bitterness.
So how can we bridge the gap during this time of crisis and thwart those negative feelings? The best way is to call out the reality and what it might actually look like so that we can identify when we are expecting too much.
If you have found yourself homeschooling your kids...
Do not expect:
that your children will behave for you the way they do for their teacher. Not going to happen! But when you get a hug from them at the end of the day be grateful that you're the parent and not the teacher.
that you, regardless of whether you are an educator or not, will be able to impart knowledge and explanations in a manner that is well received and understood by your children every single time. Teaching is hard, and now many of us are appreciating the phenomenal job our teachers do every single day. We love you teachers!
that you will complete all the housework tasks that have been building up while simultaneously schooling or supervising your kids. Kids can often make mess and dirty laundry faster than we can clean it.
that you will be free from distractions and interruptions while you are working from home- not a chance! Consider working early mornings or late evenings while kids are asleep or otherwise occupied if you want some quality work time.
that you will keep calm and in control at all times. Your kids will severely try your patience and you'll need deep breaths aplenty.
that you will experience a range of emotions from sheer exasperation, to anger, to sadness, to joy, to helplessness. Let yourself feel whatever you are feeling- it is completely valid. If it gets too much - remove yourself and calm yourself before continuing.
that your kids will know more about technology, Australian history or long division than you do. For many of us it's been a while since we were at school and let's face the facts, much of what we know is now outdated. If in doubt...GOOGLE it.
that your kids will employ many different tactics to avoid doing school work or chores. Stay strong and consistent.
that they may resist maintaining basic hygiene standards (like hair washing or teeth brushing) due to being out of routine. Try to create a new normal that works for you and them.
that they will get on your nerves at times. Regardless of the boundless love for our kids, for most of us it will be an adjustment to spend so much time together. It is natural for us to irritate each other when in such close proximity for an extended period of time. Try and find something fun to do together to take the pressure off and get you all laughing. Kitchen dance parties, a game of charades or karaoke competitions can provide a release.
If you are at home in isolation (with or without others)...
Do not expect:
to always sleep well - there is much to worry about and many of us are moving our bodies far less than we are used to.
to feel relaxed and at ease - we are in unprecedented times with such incredible uncertainty. Feeling anywhere from mild to severe anxiety is to be expected. But if it is getting on top of you and impairing your ability to function then don't battle alone- talk to a professional.
to achieve all those DIY jobs you've been putting off for ages, to learn a new language, discover your unbridled talent for sculpting, start a new fitness regime, declutter your home or master crocheting - sometimes just getting through the day is work enough. Anything beyond that is just a bonus.
to get on well with your family or housemates all of the time - for most households it is unusual to spend this much time together. Eventually you will probably start to annoy each other and there may be occasional disagreements or quarrels. Practice compassion when you can, and give each other permission and space for time alone or apart.
to feel isolated and wanting for a connection with others outside of the home - even those of us enjoying the idea of a forced slow-down and quality family time will tire of it and want to expand our social horizons again.
to feel like you need to be heard, seen and validated by the outside world - and if that means posting videos to your socials of your family line dancing in pyjamas, that is okay!
to feel lethargic and demotivated. The majority of us are utterly out of routine and feel a loss of control.
to feel like you are alone in your struggles - even with phone calls and virtual meet-ups the physical absence and distance of friends and family can make us feel like we are flying solo through this incredibly difficult situation.
to feel selfish sometimes - we want to show compassion to others and occasionally it feels easy but it is a primal instinct to 'protect your own' so don't beat yourself up if you have forgotten to check in on that friend in need or have skipped the homeless in your nightly prayers. You are not a bad person.
to compare and despair. With more time to scroll the socials we have increased opportunity to look at the lives of others. Lives in all their retouched, filtered, staged glory. Do not compare your reality to someone else's highlight reel. If looking at others is causing you stress or sadness, then unfollow, unsubscribe, turn away or turn it off. You deserve more than that.
Want to bring more contentment into your experience of this grim situation?
Forget perfection- just do the best you can with what you have. Be grateful for that which you do possess, be generous with kindness to yourself and those around you and LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS of what life might look and feel like through this.
Stay safe & stay home.
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