What if Social Distancing is a Challenge in Acceptance?

With every day comes more stressful news updates. These are anxious times, with any number of reasons to be and stay fearful.

17 Days ago, I was afraid. Fearful, as it turns out, is my default setting. Now that I’m starting to ease into what is becoming the new normal for the foreseeable future, I’ve been pondering a lot about acceptance.

Before having to stay home, I was struggling a lot with my too-busy lifestyle. I had a lot of trouble accepting things happening in my life and felt like I needed to fix them. When I don’t accept something, I take it upon myself to CONTROL it–which invariably makes the situation worse. Control is my response to fear. Control, rather than faith.

Radical Acceptance

Recently, I started reading Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Brach writes about how the principles of “Radical Acceptance” are twofold: First, you must acknowledge the situation as it is. Second, you must welcome the situation with an open heart.

Acknowledging the Situation

I’ve heard the concept of acceptance thrown around in most of the circles I frequent. Yet, I’ve never heard it explained like this. You see, as she explains, you can’t have Radical Acceptance with only one of those tenets. Simply acknowledging the situation can arise feelings of frustration or anger-turned-inward.

For me, control is a byproduct of that anger-turned-inward. My therapist calls it “whipping myself into shape” when I don’t meet my own expectations of managing a situation.

Welcoming with an Open Heart

Instead of whipping things into shape or fixing things that appear to be broken, Brach suggests welcoming the situation with an open heart. With love, compassion, and empathy. Self-acceptance and openness to the situation. She argues that only until you can lovingly welcome the situation, can you begin to change it in an effective, productive way.

Otherwise, you’re just distracting yourself.

Moving Forward with Acceptance

There’s so much we can’t control here. I’m not too good at taking my advice, but, these days, I am better at seeing when my God wants me to just quiet down, be grateful for what I have, and accept–with an open heart–my current situation. Being forced into this stay-at-home experience has made it so much easier to let go of those things that I can’t control so I can focus on what I can.

Since I turned the corner with my anxiety and my acceptance, I’ve found this experience to be so much more enjoyable than I’d originally thought. I’m actually, dare I say, loving it. I’ll probably cherish these few weeks as one the best, freest experiences of my life.

Tell me: what are you trying to fix that isn’t broken right now? What can you just accept today?

 

3 Effortless Things You Can Do For Self-Care At Home Right Now for Free

Now that much of the United States appears to be committed to staying at home to combat the spread of the Coronavirus, most of us are finding ourselves anxious, bored, or somewhere in between.

I’m convinced this is all happening for us, rather than to us. This is a time to identify the things that matter to us and let go of the things that don’t.


As for me, I was struggling before we were asked to stay at home. I was making my life endlessly complicated with new commitments and uber-long todo lists. Taking time for self-care was never a priority. However, necessity–and a little creativity–have made this experience pretty enjoyable.

Adding to the stress is the growing number of people losing their jobs, seeing their hours cut, or closing their business due to stay-at-home orders. Self-care activities often cost extra money. You may not be comfortable spending right now: gym memberships, makeup, skincare, and who knows what else that bills itself as essential to your self-care routine.

If you’re looking for something to do for yourself without spending extra money, you’ve come to the right place.

1. Meditate

Meditation and mindfulness are fantastic and easy ways to practice self-care. The best part is, there’s no “wrong” way to meditate if you are focused on experiencing the moment as it is. Frequently, I hear people criticize themselves for “thinking too much” and “not being able to meditate.” However, that’s not how it needs to be. It really can be as easy as finding a quiet place, breathing in and out, and focusing listening to whatever you hear. I’ve found that even when my husband is playing video games and yelling (as annoying as it is), I can sit and accept his yelling as part of my experience: one of the essential points of mindfulness.

If you need a little guidance, the Calm app has free guided meditations.

2. Read

Yes, read. But don’t spend too much time finding the right thing to read. Chances are, you can find interesting material at your fingertips. Medium.com is a great website to visit with exciting articles by independent writers. There is a paywall for some pieces (as the membership helps writers get paid), but there are tons of free-to-read articles on the page, too.
Further, you can download digital books from your local library if they participate. Most libraries include instructions on how to set that up on your smartphone so you can find a book that suits you and dig in. 

I read on a Kindle, but you can download the Kindle app on the device you’re reading this on for free.

 

3. Write

Now is not the time to find the perfect journal or writing pen. Again, we’re being challenged on determining our priorities.
Writing is one of the most cathartic things you can do. All you need is a writing pen and a paper surface. That means you can write on the back of an old bill, in a notepad, or even an envelope.
Where you write doesn’t matter–the act of writing down your thoughts, whatever they are, can change your mood.

There you have it—three no-brainer activities for self-care.

How are you taking care of yourself while staying at home? Tell me in the comments below!

5 Products I’m Leaning on Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

It’s an interesting time out there, folks. That’s an understatement. I’m currently on Day 10 of Social Distancing/Stay-at-Home, and there are a few things I’ve been leaning on more than others throughout this experience.

This post contains links to merchants but I am not affiliated with nor am benefiting from writing about any of them. Honestly, I’m too tired to even go through the process of signing up to get paid for any of these mentions, so these are 100% honest reviews of products. I’m hoping sharing this information helps you through this period, should you be seeking.

1. BetterHelp

BetterHelp is a tele-conferencing website aimed at connecting people with qualified counselors online using chat, text, and video conferencing. I’ve been a regular user of BetterHelp since November of 2019, but I’m really leaning on it now while I get used to staying home. When I signed up in November, I filled out a questionnaire and was matched with a Counselor who I feel was tailor made for me. She has been exactly what I needed then, and even more of what I need now. The best part is, you can chat your counselor between sessions AND set more than one session a week if you need one–something that would be very hard to do in the in-person world. Right now, that’s impossible, so BetterHelp is a great option for counseling if you’re just getting started or haven’t found a therapist you love.

2. Calm

The Calm app is everything to me right now. You can get a 30-day free trial to use the app, which could cover you for most of the time we’re all stuck at home. Some time ago, I’d signed up for the annual membership of the app, and that has more than paid for itself in access to meditations, “courses,” masterclasses, sleep meditations, calming music, and more.

A few weeks ago, I came across the Self-Compassion Masterclass by Tara Brach. Her Masterclass and her RAIN method have been instrumental in my approach to managing stress, having self-compassion and compassion for others, and staying as mindful as possible during this time.

 

3. Zoom

Zoom is the real MVP of COVID-19. While there are other web-conferencing options out there, I’ve found Zoom to be the easiest to set up, most popular (and therefore most likely to be adopted by groups), and most adaptable to different applications/groups.

My recovery from alcohol and my involvement in the recovery community makes up the largest chunk of, well, me. Recovery groups depend on unity and consistent connection with others–quite the opposite of the isolation and social distancing we have to observe now. Zoom (and other web-conferencing apps like Zoom such as FreeConferenceCall.com, Google Hangouts, Skype, and Facebook Messenger) has made it possible for groups and members of the recovery community all over the world to continue meeting during the pandemic.

That also means that Zoom can work for just about any gathering you’re normally a part of, too. It’s free to get started, though you only get 40 minutes on the free version. I signed up for the $15.99 upgraded plan so that I can have longer meetings–a small price to pay for sanity.

 

4. Viteyes Blue Light Gummies

Okay y’all. Something we’re not talking about and SHOULD be talking about is the increase in screen-time for all of us while social-distancing. And while I’m not here to preach to you that you should be in front your screen less (do what you gotta do to survive), I do think we should consider the long-term effects of this screen time after the Coronavirus. Viteyes, a maker of eye vitamins for supporting macular health, also makes vitamins that support eyes that spend a lot of time looking at screens. I look at screens all the time anyway, but including these tasty gummies as part of my routine helps me feel a lot better about doubling (or even tripling) my normal daily screen time using the aforementioned apps.

(PRNewsfoto/Aaptiv)

5. Aaptiv

I freaking love Aaptiv. I’ve been using Aaptiv for almost 3 years now, so this app is a no-brainer during COVID times, too, especially if you’re like me and prefer a motivating instructor to get you through a workout. With hundreds (I assume hundreds) of audio workouts for everything from outdoor running to strength training to gym equipment (if you have that), Aaptiv makes it easy to focus on yourself and your body (in a healthy way). During all this, anything that takes my mind off of what’s going on in the world is a welcome reprieve.

There you have it: the five products keeping me sane and healthy right now as I practice social distancing through the Coronavirus pandemic.

What products are you leaning on? Tell me in the comments below!

 

 

Are You Giving Too Much Feedback? 3 Tips to Help Your Feedback Mean Something Again


Because you’re probably just annoying.

It’s no mystery that consistent feedback helps cultivate anything from relationships to organizations. In offices, we ask for feedback to do our jobs better. Among friends, we want feedback to be certain we’re doing right by them.

Feedback, candor, and honesty are often regarded as helpful and constructive. Most people have a problem with either giving and receiving feedback. As a result, most of the literature out there is speaks to those groups.

Let’s say you don’t fall into either of those camps. You LOVE feedback! You give feedback All. The. Time!

Yet, though you’re committing to giving feedback, you’ve noticed your teammates aren’t quite as enthusiastic about your consistent feedback. Worse, it feels like they’re increasingly in denial or arguing with you about the issues you’re raising.

Is it Them? Or is it Me?

An inability to accept feedback is, admittedly, an employee performance issue. In certain instances, it can highlight a lack of character or maturity.

Yet, if you’re noticing a pattern among a variety of people, or if the response you’re getting increases in firmness or intensity, it is worth considering if you are the problem.

It’s likely your feedback is causing you more damage than you think.

Photo by Frida Bredesen on Unsplash

The Problem with Too Much Feedback

Recently, a friend and colleague confided in me that they were noticing they were getting push back to their regular feedback. After doing some perfunctory investigating, we determined their team is feeling Feedback Fatigue, or mental resistance to too much feedback.

Feedback Fatigue can cause rifts in working relationships, make teammates feel unnecessarily wary of their actions, and cause a breakdown in future communication.

Most importantly, too much negative feedback can damage the reputation of the feedback giver — an unexpected outcome for someone who is usually trying to provide solutions to those around them. Sadly, you might just be coming off as a complainer or a critic — neither of which add to employee morale.

Photo by Headway on Unsplash

What To Do If You Suspect You’re Giving Too Much Feedback

Fortunately, you can take steps in a more constructive direction. Your reputation isn’t ruined, and you’re not a big jerk who’s been hurting everyone’s feelings (only you will know if that last part is accurate, but I’ll leave that to you to decide).

Here are the steps you can take for your feedback to be taken seriously again.

1 — Ask yourself some tough questions.

You can’t rectify a situation until you have a good idea of the actions you’ve been taking. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

How much time do I spend giving negative feedback?

How much time do I spend giving positive feedback?

How am I giving feedback currently? What do I normally say?

Am I providing solutions along with my feedback, or am I only telling them what they’re doing wrong and expecting them to figure out the rest on their own?

Now that you’ve taken some time to consider what you’re doing, let’s discuss some action steps to take moving forward.

2 — Go on a Feedback Diet

I recognize this is asking a lot of someone whose default setting is to give feedback whenever possible. However, if you’re suspecting you’ve caused Feedback Fatigue, you may want to take a break from feedback for enough time to see your relationships and concerns with more clarity.

Focusing on feedback could blind you from seeing the situation as it truly is. If you are jumping at any opportunity to give feedback, you are likely not taking a moment to pause and consider the context in which the infraction is taking place.

Further, you may notice the way your teammates react to you when you approach them. Do they appear to be guarded or defensive? Do they seem wary or even afraid of talking with you? Reserving your feedback in favor of observation could illuminate fissures you didn’t know existed.

3 — Choose Your Battles, and Choose Less Battles

Not every concern requires immediate feedback. Issues often resolve themselves with time, or there can be circumstances that are causing issues in isolated cases.

After your diet, try adding feedback into your day-to-day slowly. When the desire to give feedback arises, ask yourself if it’s necessary to give feedback right now, and if you’re the right person to give it. Perhaps others have already mentioned this issue to the offender and they’ve started working on it. Or, maybe it’s not your place to give this feedback — their supervisor or desk partner would better carry the message.

You may choose to skip speaking up entirely, only to find it become a non-issue after a few days.


Photo by Dylan Gillis on Unsplash

Once you’ve determined you’ve been destructive instead of constructive, you can begin reconnecting with your teammates in ways that help everyone become better at their roles. These tips are only the beginning of a new path, but they set a strong foundation for productively communicating with others.

Before you know it, people will listen to your feedback again.


Jamie E. Hammond is a Social Media Manager by day and Indoor Cycling Instructor by midday. She sleeps at night. She is a competitively trained public speaker and holds a B.S. in Sociology from Bradley University. Her interests include: learning about what makes people commit to their workplace, her husband, her fur-babies (dogs), and her feather-babies (chickens). Join the mailing list.

Overwhelmed By Your Time Off? Try Writing a Can-Do List

Time off and To-Do Lists can be paralyzing.

Photo by James McGill on Unsplash

I was looking forward to this Thanksgiving break a lot more than I am now that I’m in it.

I got married in early October of this year, so after all the hubbub, family-ness, and travel of that period, I was really looking forward to hunkering down for the rest of 2019.

I’m privileged to work for a company that gave us both a half-day on Wednesday and a full day off on Black Friday I looked forward to this Thanksgiving break as an opportunity to do all the things I don’t normally prioritize: rest, writing, working on updating my blog, working on my e-course, looking up dog training, exercising, etc. That means I said no to most any travel or get-together plans. Thanksgiving travel? No way. Christmas travel to see family? Already saw ’em. I had “stuff to do.”

And yet, here I am. Doing nothing.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

Doing Too Much

I have a tendency to do too much on any given day. My To-Do Lists are always unsustainable and un-achievable. While I’ve worked on this and done an impressive amount to shorten my daily To-Do list, setting out to do an achievable amount of things continues to be difficult for me.

Therefore, for me and many others, writing a list or “just choosing a few things that can be done” is not a realistic option for me today.

The Reality of Too Much Time

Now here I am, a little into the Thanksgiving holiday, overwhelmed and lonely. I miss my family, and I have more time than I’ve had in a long time to do whatever I want — and it’s paralyzing.

I’m not the kind of person that gives myself a lot of time to relax. And, as much as I’d like to say that I’m excited about all this free time, it’s anxiety-inducing. I start to think about all the things I should do with this time, making an ever-lengthening list and unable to start on anything.

Photo by Author

The Can-Do List

In moments like this, I have to give myself grace rather than keep spinning my wheels. Since my mental well-being is tied to my ability to make progress, I have to give myself something that I can use to move forward — even if I’m only moving forward a few inches.

Instead of emphasizing the things that must be done (the “must” is implied by the “To-Do” part), I have written a Can-Do List.

When I write tasks as things I can do rather than I must do, I regain accountability and control. Suddenly, I’m not looking at this time as something I need to fill with productivity and getting things done.

By seeing my tasks as things I can do, I see more opportunities than things to overcome.

Photo by Glenn Case on Unsplash

Here Are The Things I Can Do This Weekend

Doesn’t that already sound more fun? I’m immediately more excited to see where my time will take me.

  1. I can write a new article for my blog and Medium (check!)
  2. I can go to the gym and run on the treadmill
  3. I can meditate
  4. I can reach out to a friend and see how they’re doing
  5. I can call my family and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving
  6. I can design my branding for my blog and social media
  7. I can record my past articles so that they are more accessible on Medium
  8. I can update my Facebook Business Page and finally start inviting people to “Like” it (while that’s still a thing)
  9. I can get ahead on work for my day job so that Monday’s inbox is slimmer
  10. I can catch up on The Crown.
  11. I can write the script for my e-course on Public Speaking
  12. I can take the e-course I got suckered into buying from a well-targeted Facebook Ad
  13. I can get some sleep.
  14. I can go for a walk.

The list goes on. You get the point.

At first glance, my Can-Do List looks a lot like a To-Do List (that’s because it’s the same thing as the To-Do list in my brain with a different title).

But when I read a list of things I can do rather than “should” do, I get to choose where my time goes without the overthinking and disempowering play track.

Photo by Author

Possibility Over Productivity

When I look at this list, I see possibilities. None of them have to be done. None of them will kill me if I don’t do them. No one will notice if I don’t do them. And now, I get to choose my own adventure.

A life of possibility is a lot more fulfilling than a life of requirement. It makes it easier to see this as a list of things I get to do, which then makes me feel more grateful and excited about the luxuries and privileges afforded to me today. Now, I can refocus on the things that I am physically, emotionally, and financially able to do. When I do that, it’s a lot harder to live in fear.

Life is more soft and joyful when I’m focused on possibility. If you find yourself paralyzed, I hope you are able to find your possibilities, too.


This article also appeared on Medium.