I worry a lot. No, seriously, I worry A LOT! I always have and I expect I always will. I sometimes worry that I am an un-diagnosed anxiety disorder patient wading through an ever-increasingly angst-filled world. To better deal with the increasing number of stressors in my life during the pandemic, I have adopted what I am calling the “Free Pass” approach to COVID-living.
I know a certain amount of worry is fair and expected given my station in life and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. After all, I serve four awesome teenagers tackling school in masks, an extraordinary wife supporting the rapid decline of her 91-year-old father, a small business with awesome employees during the harshest economic cycle I have ever seen, and a hopeful world being attacked by despair and fear. I often marvel at how one’s blessings can sometimes manifest into sources of worry and concern. Despite my mental fortitude, self-awareness, optimism, and faith, I sometimes fall prey to the clutches of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. And, my normal mode of operation has only been exacerbated by COVID-19. Without developing additional coping mechanisms, I can see how the stress and worry may overwhelm someone into inaction, apathy, depression, and other more severe clinical conditions.
I am a firm believer that God blessed me with the physical, mental, and spiritual wherewithal necessary to handle anything life throws my way. Most of the time, this belief and faith drive me to push through and overcome ALL challenges…big or small. But lately, I am applying my God-given strengths differently and giving myself more passes on obstacles that just do not seem worth the energy and spiritual drain. I am simply passing and saying “No” to more arduous tasks than I did before.
I know…this sounds like a cop-out and excuse to do less and be lazy and give up and roll-over and whatever else you want to call it. But, I am self-aware and confident enough to know my limits. And lately, I have pushed and exceeded my limits more than I should, which has detrimental ripple effects on those that I love and serve. Normally, I can achieve a lot without sacrificing my family time, but right now I cannot achieve with the same level of excellence without sacrificing family time, which is unacceptable to me.
Each person’s physical, mental, and spiritual batteries are being worked harder than ever right now. We are tapping into reserves we did not even know existed. While there is much benefit to digging deep and doing hard things, there is just as much benefit to re-charging your batteries. You are not effective continuously running in “Low Battery” condition. The operating mode that worked for you pre-COVID, may not work for you during COVID. You need more time to re-charge, which means you may not be able to do everything you would have attempted in a COVID-free life.
Take some time to figure out what HAS to get done and demands your attention and what can wait days, weeks, or even months. This requires you to be honest with yourself. Certain work projects may not be required right now. Certain house chores may not be critical each day or week. Pre-COVID battles on screen time vs. reading time may not be worth the energy drain. Try giving yourself one pass a day…or two…or three. Before taking on a task, challenge its worth with respect to the energy demand and drain you will experience. If the gain does not SIGNIFICANTLY outweigh the spend, PASS! Put it down, walk away, and do not give it another second of your time. I am sure you will still have enough to fill your day, but at least you will have one less thing to worry about.
Try it! It is liberating…and may become something I continue beyond the pandemic.