How many articles, news stories, and videos have you absorbed about the “trying and uncertain times” in which we are living? About how we’ve been dropped into an ocean of fear, and the only way to survive is to start paddling through uncharted and choppy waters? The number is probably a lot higher than you think.
Everyone has been forced to adapt and adjust (one million times over) these past two years. As someone with ADHD and anxiety, adapting to new circumstances has always posed a challenge due to my rigid, black-and-white ways of thinking.
Anytime I meet any type of obstacle, no matter the size, my heart starts to race, and I panic. I think to myself, “What if I can’t do this?”
But life has a way of continuing, without checking in with us for permission. And it’s often during uncomfortable, stressful, and uncertain times that we can push back and learn a bit more about who we are.
5 Things I’ve Learned About Myself During the Pandemic
1. I’m more resilient than I thought. The key to withstanding the ever-changing pandemic landscape, for me, has been leaning into discomfort and relinquishing control – things I thought I couldn’t do before 2020. I’m continuing to work on flexibility, most of all in managing my expectations for myself.
[Get This Free Download: How Well Are You Handling Stress?]
2. I can unlearn negative habits. Pre-pandemic me is not the same person I am today. In these strange times, I was able to unlearn old patterns of thinking and behaving – mostly having to do with insecurities and self-doubts – that no longer serve me, and I refuse to go back. We have the power to shed our old skin and make changes to our lives. You’re only stuck if you don’t pick up your foot and take the first step.
3. Routines matter. Working from home with ADHD and anxiety is interesting, to say the least. I went from having a 50-minute morning commute to a 50-second one. Despite all that extra time, I found it challenging at first to stay productive. I was consistently running late because I lost the structure on which I had relied every day when I was still driving to work. I was also less motivated to work because I was alone at home all day, and I thrive on personal connection.
But new scenarios call for new routines. I’ve since learned that I need to start my day the night before. I lay out my workout clothes (which also happen to be my work clothes these days) on a chair before bed. I open my planner to tomorrow’s date, with important events highlighted. I also build in pockets of time to take care of unannounced matters, because something always pops up. Creating a routine that works for my brain is exactly what I need to keep me on track in this reality shift.
4. Boundaries matter – and I’m not afraid to set them. Rejection sensitive dysphoria, anxiety, and ADHD had made setting boundaries nearly impossible for me prior to the pandemic. I was insecure about what people thought about me and my work ethic, so I felt like I had to say yes to everyone and everything. That only led to burnout, low motivation, and exhaustion.
[Read: Imagining Life After the Pandemic – Helping Women with ADHD Move Forward with Purpose]
But I’ve since started to put myself first. While saying no is still uncomfortable at times, I know that it’s OK. Setting boundaries has helped my mental health and self-esteem more than I could have imagined and, lo and behold, saying no to some things has opened the doors to more opportunities for me.
5. Asking for help is necessary. No one can do any of this alone, and certainly not during a pandemic. I now embrace the fact that I don’t know everything, and that asking for help is a sign of true bravery, courage, and strength.
Unexpectedly, in the midst of great uncertainty, I am more secure in myself than ever before and in tune with my true self.
Dealing with Uncertainty: Next Steps
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