Small Changes. Big Impact.
Fed up with this pandemic thing? I sure am. Yet here we are back in lockdown mode, grinding it out, waiting patiently for the vaccine. It is like we are climbing an endless flight of stairs and – just when you are about to take the last step – inexplicably you find yourself back at the bottom starting all over again!
Having passed the one year anniversary of the last time it was OK to hug someone, let’s pause to reflect upon those things we are doing differently because of the pandemic. Why? Because I think it is important to recognize how even the small changes we make – when added together – can have a lasting and positive impact on our state of mind and quality of life.
So, let me share how a few small changes I have made are making a big difference for me.
Small Change #1: Start With Three Questions
How I start my day now is entirely different than ‘Before Covid’ (or BC for short). Back in BC times I would launch out of bed in the morning, grab my device and dive into the latest emails and social media feeds. Sure, the dopamine surge felt great, but it was not conducive to an orderly and mindful transition to the new day.
Now, before I kick off the covers, I ask three questions:
- What am I grateful for? (my home, family, career, health, friendships)
- What is one thing I can let go? (comparison, worry, regret, impatience, my ex)
- What is today’s intention? (mindful choices, finish a project, make a positive connection)
So you are thinking “OK Meg great! So now I can log on?” To which I say “Not so fast!”
Small Change #2: A Non-Device Activity (‘NDA’)
Reaching for my device first thing was my ‘Go To’ back in BC times. But now, instead, I reach for my walking shoes and head out the door with Arnie (my Covid puppy) to clear my head and get the blood circulating. This I do every single day – no matter what! It does wonders helping me to frame the day and bring a positive mindset. It has become something of a ritual.
The ‘New Start’ 30-Day Challenge
So, my challenge to you is to start your day with the Three Questions and one NDA of your choice. This I pretty much guarantee will get you to kick the covers off and set you up for success.
Now, your activity of choice might be sitting quietly to gather your thoughts, doing some stretching, writing in a journal, or cuddling with a creature. No doubt your circumstance will be different than mine. You may have kids at home, or a long commute to work. So you may well have to get up earlier – or perhaps set aside time later in the day for your NDA. I won’t say it is going to be easy. But I will say it is going to be worth it!
If you are having difficulty identifying what that activity might be, ask yourself:
What one thing can I do to bring more focus and awareness to my daily routine that will improve my physical and mental well being?
Again, the challenge is this: decide on your NDA and commit to it for 30 Days. When you engage in this activity, be mindful of how it makes you feel in the moment. Pay attention to your breath, and consider your thoughts without judgment. Pay attention to whether you notice a difference in how you are feeling and how your day unfolds. If it makes you feel anxious, pay attention to why you are feeling that way. New habits and routines can be tough to establish. The thing that matters most is making the commitment and seeing it through so that it becomes routine – or even better – a ritual!
I am amazed at how it has made a difference for me; and I hope it works magic for you too!
The Choice is Yours
While we can’t control when we will achieve herd immunity, or how big the federal deficit will be, or when it will again be OK to hug someone, what we can control is the attitude we bring as we move through our day.
So, start your day intentionally by asking yourself the Three Questions and scheduling your Non-Device Activity. Doing so will help ensure you can manage whatever comes your way with grace, balance and a mindset of resilience. In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn:
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.”