What Do You Do When You’re Off-Center?

I can’t seem to maintain my emotional balance. First the virus. Now the protests. I feel powerless and off-center. I am not in control of much.

For those of you outside the US wondering what is happening: we have never examined the role slavery played in starting and building this country. Nor have we examined how our justice system is unjust. We have some reckoning with ourselves that’s long overdue.

How do we find our congruence and our center when the world seems upside-down?

First, breathe.

Then, see the reality of our situation. In the words of Jerry Weinberg, “A crisis is the end of an illusion.”

We have ended many illusions this past week.

We ended the illusion we can come together as a country to fight the pandemic. And, we ended the illusion that we have a fair and equal society.

That breathing thing helps me a lot. And, I can continue to work.

I take refuge in my work. I have a home office with a door. I don’t have young children, so I can actually work. And, I’ve been timeboxing my social media, so I don’t let myself get sucked into reading too many threads. (I realize the irony of that since many of you read these posts via social media.)

I can control what’s in my life right now: what I read, what I eat, when I go to sleep, my exercise. That’s all I seem to be able to control.

Even under normal circumstances, I’m not that good at not sweating the small stuff. And, nothing right now is small.

What to do?

My Actions

Here’s what I’m doing to try to maintain my congruence. I have no idea if it will work for you:

  1. Maintain a daily schedule. I still get up, exercise, and sleep at the same relative times. (I might be off by 20-30 minutes depending on my calls, but that’s it.)
  2. Timebox my social media. Yes, I put a timer on my phone so I stop when the timer is up.
  3. Timebox my writing. I got stuck even when I wrote this post. I know that when I write in shorter timeboxes, I stay focused and I write more. I’m doing that right now.
  4. Maintain my diet. I low carb. And, right now (and for the past week!) I’ve been craving a pizza like you would not believe. Pizza is not on my list of foods, not even for a small “cheat.” Not even close. When I crave food like that, I’m pretty sure the craving is from my brain and not my stomach. Yes, I thought I was past this. No, I appear not to be.
  5. Reflect often on my actions.

I can create a small reality inside this crisis for me. I create my personal support system so I can maintain as much resilience as possible.

I realize I have advantages you might not have. I’ve worked from home for many years. I don’t have small children at home right now. And, of my place in society arises from privilege. You might not have any of these advantages. I can empathize with you. I cannot know how you feel.

And, our feelings matter, most of all. Our feelings can keep us on-center—or not. I hope we can all find our centers and create a new path, starting now.

6 thoughts on “What Do You Do When You’re Off-Center?

  1. Jim Grey

    In my five plus decades there’s never been a year where the world’s events and condition have affected everyone. 2020 is the year.

    We’ve all faced some level of worry and fear. We’ve all also faced at least some changing of our routines and loss of our freedoms.

    It took me a few weeks to adapt to working from home. Now I’m embracing it. I now block 90 minutes for lunch and do all sorts of great things with it. Yesterday I went for a long bike ride. Today I’ll go to the grocery store because we’re out of several staples. I’ve used that time to do some of my hobbies, as well. I can’t do any of this stuff when I work in the office. I’m going to miss it when I eventually have to go back.

    My one way of coping that hasn’t been great is that I used more alcohol for several weeks. I forgive myself, but I also decided a couple weeks ago that this isn’t good for me long term and it’s time to wean myself off this crutch.

    1. Johanna Post author

      Jim, I love working from home. I am set up for it (office with a door, etc), and I also love the daily freedoms I have.

      Yeah, my vertigo prevents me from drinking much alcohol at all! 1/3 of a glass of wine is about my limit. Good for you for noticing. That observation will help you determine your next steps. (I’m blind to too many of my challenges.)

  2. Yury Makedonov

    Thank you Johanna. I feel the same. Current event distract me so much that it’s challenging for me to stay focused on my work. I recall only several events in my whole life that had similar effect on me.
    I need to better follow your advice “2. Timebox my social media.”
    Also I need to better “2a. Timebox my mainstream media.”

  3. rodg42

    As a fairly recent diabetic I’ve found the low carb food plan a challenge with pizza being my favorite food! I’ve not had to drop pizza out entirely in my case and I have found there are some lower carb variations. If you have Lowes Food you should check out their Red Pepper Humus & Spinach frozen pizza. Not the best link but – https://shop.lowesfoods.com/product/257447/lowes-foods-red-pepper-hummus-spinach-thin-crust-pizza (couldn’t find a nutrition facts link). Not all but several of the Lowes frozen pizzas get me in the 45 to 60 carb meal range target or lower.

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