If you are like me, these past few months have turned many aspects of your life upside down. I have been using this emoji because it expresses how I feel. All the plans I had made for 2020 were vaporized by the Covid Quarantine. And if that wasn’t enough, I feel bombarded by directives from other people: Isolate; wear a mask; keep physical distance; get on Zoom; change yourself – adapt!
First of all, I actually liked my “pre-Covid” life and I allow myself to mourn the loss of all my plans.
Secondly, I realize that feeling a loss of control over my life has huge implications for overall happiness. It is like being a passenger in a car with someone you don’t fully trust driving. Once you get back behind the wheel all the stress melts away.
A University of Michigan nationwide survey reported that the 15 percent of Americans who claimed they felt “in control of their lives” also raved about having “extraordinarily positive feelings of happiness.”. Also, researchers from the University of Birmingham studied data on 20,000 workers to determine that the higher levels of autonomy a worker experienced, the higher their sense of job satisfaction and wellbeing .
So how do I regain a sense of control over my life? I made a list of what I can control. It turned out to be a very short list, only one thing – myself.
I can control:
- My reactions to all the directives being fired at me – but it isn’t easy.
- Exercise – Walk everyday and stop at the park afterwards for 10 minutes of barefoot yoga. I need to breathe and reconnect with the earth.
- Food! – I can definitely control what I eat and how often. Since grocery shopping is such a hassle now, I go after lunch (fewer people in line) and stick to my list of healthy foods.
- Breathe – I pay attention to my breath and make sure to exhale fully.
- What I read and watch – Cut out negativity on social media, stick to articles, shows and books that uplift and educate.
Following steps 2-5 has made it much easier to control my reactions to circumstances and feel happier overall.
It is easy to get swept up in this whirlwind of panic and “new normals”. Take a deep breath and exhale fully. Think about what aspects of your life are under your control. Ask a friend or holistic health care professional to help keep you on track. Be compassionate towards yourself. Remember, this is your life to enjoy and live to the fullest – control your destiny.