What to Do, When There’s Nothing You Can Do
We’re all in a state of shock, or maybe it’s confusion or concern. For some, possibly quarantine. What was in China, is now everywhere and it’s affecting everything. What we thought we could weather, or even pay only mild concern, is now overwhelming us and impacting our every thought, decision, and plan. And, we don’t know what’s next. What does one do, when there’s nothing you can do?
First, remember there is always something you can do. You can make good choices. You can look at the big picture and evaluate what matters to you, and what doesn’t. And there are some basics we can, and should, all do. Here are my top four:
1 – Breathe. This is out of your control. Fretting and worrying will not help, accept that. Instead, focus on how you can take care of yourself. Take a walk outside (in a wide-open area) if you can. Drink water. Get extra sleep. Take vitamins C and D. Please, stop stocking up on water and toilet paper. A three weeks supply is enough. Not only are you doing a disservice to others and creating unnecessary panic, continuing in this manner is only going to incite rationing. If you need to stock up on anything it’s canned goods and frozen foods.
2 – Regroup and reprioritize. Your conference is cancelled. Your client put the project on hold. Your vacation seems unlikely. Again, this is out of your control. Fretting and worrying will not help, accept that. Channel your energy differently. Look at the goals you have set for yourself – personal or professional – and reprioritize. How often do we each wish we had extra time to garden, fish, read, finish a project, research or organize something? Personally, I have a book I’m working on, and now with a cancelled travel schedule, I have more time to work on it. You do too. Things pulled off your agenda give room for other things to go on. Don’t stress the time away – enjoy the disruption for what it gives back to you.
3- Respect other people’s thoughts and concerns. We all worry differently, and about different things. Rather than judge another person’s priorities, respect what matters to them. Give voice to their concerns. Older individuals are at greater risk and deserve to have their needs, and fears, respected. This may include asking an aging relative or co-worker if they prefer to limit their time around you or others. Honor their requests.
4- Show you care. No matter how much things feel out of control, or how limited our ability to literally ‘reach out and touch someone’, we can always demonstrate our care and concern for others. A compassionate smile. A caring word. A kind ear. An offer of emotional support. Many people just want to commiserate – and that’s ok too. We should bond over life’s challenges, and this offers a new opportunity to do so. Showing you care may help a new employee to feel part of the team. Engaging with an aging relative about their concerns could create a new chapter in getting to know them.
We are in the throws of change, and it’s uncomfortable. But the hardest part is when we resist and try to keep everything as it is. We cannot. It’s time to realign. When there is nothing you can do, it’s time to do everything you can.