Returning to the New Normal

Posted Jul 1, 2020


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Get expert advice for coping well as locations open up and we adjust to new ways of re-entering our old routines.

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So welcome, I'm Lori Antrees coming to you today from Minneapolis. And my background is marriage and family therapy. I had a 10 year career in that field on the West Coast. And I have also facilitated sessions like this - although this topic is fairly new for all of us - for the past 20 years. So it's my pleasure and honor to be with you today. I welcome you to put questions and comments along the process in the chat, and then we will address them as we go. And also, we'll allow some time at the end after we stop the recording.
So to begin, there are so many experiences that we're going through. And there is some uncertainty obviously, and there's a future ahead where everything is not crystal clear, where the timeline may be fluctuating. And depending on where you live in our country or in the world, it could be very different. So I want to honor the fact that you're all coming from different places, different backgrounds, and different experiences with your own mental health, your physical health, your financial health. There's a lot going on for people. So today, we're going to talk about what might this normal, if it ever could be, this new reality look like for all of us. And begin anticipating that.
So the first place to begin, believe it or not, is looking at our feelings. And the research shows that if we can talk through our feelings, if we can journal or write down our feelings, if we can share them with somebody else. Then it helps us activate not only our memory for past coping skills and how we've gotten through challenges before. It helps us develop resiliency. And it also orients us toward thinking into the future, and planning, and taking care of ourselves with a sound mind. Because when we're under a lot of pressure and a lot of emotional duress, it makes it more difficult to think. I'm sure you're no stranger to that. It can affect your energy level and your ability to process. So certainly, what can help us is to go from the emotional center of the brain, where we acknowledge our feelings. We share them, we process them out, and we accept them. And then we move forward back to our fronto temporal cortex of our brain, our thinking brain, to help us make plans and take care of ourselves as best we can.
So you might see yourself here. This is a very short list, I will say that much. And there are so many more feelings that people are experiencing. It could feel as if it's been and continues to be somewhat of a roller coaster. Even though you've probably adapted to working remotely. If you are working essentially, then you've adapted to that process as well. And you may have people in your household or in your family who are either working remotely or working essentially as I call it. So it might be quite a blend.
And with all of us walking through that, we are dealing with this anticipation and what the feelings might arise from the new reality as we reintegrate and get in closer proximity with more and more people. So that can raise this rollercoaster once again, as we face whatever the timeline might be. And again, it may be unknown at this point. It may be speculation. But hopefully, we can start at least anticipating and helping wrap our brains, and our spirits, and our bodies around being healthy and going back to being in closer area with other people.
So if you find yourself here, perhaps you have been in the past in a place of denial. I know that I can think of a time when I experienced a very serious health challenge. And I think the health professionals thought perhaps I wasn't going to make it. I could see the looks on their faces. I could see it in my family's eyes. And yet I know in hindsight, I was completely in denial.
So denial is the most amazing facet of the brain in a way, because it will only allow things to come in when we're ready to process them. And that means that we could all be on very different timelines. And in fact, I'm sure you've already had discussions with perhaps your colleagues, or your family, or your friends around this reintegration. And there's different comfort levels. And some people feel that the danger has passed. Other people feel there could be a resurgence. There's a whole spectrum of where people are resting. And some of you might even feel that some of your friends and loved ones are in denial about what's been happening, what could happen.
So that's a very hard place to be. And yet it's not something that we can force somebody to wrap their brain around, because the brain will allow that in when it's ready. So that makes it very difficult to move towards this reintegration.
Also, skepticism is another very common feeling. And this is a real feeling. These are all valid, and this is all part of what we may have already experienced or will continue to experience. Or it might be something new that we're just walking through now. There might be some positive feelings as well, like a sense of happiness or even peacefulness. And anticipation about being back together with more people.
So we can run the whole gamut here. And what I want to impress upon all of us today is that these feelings are part of what's known as the grief and loss cycle. And grief and loss is not linear. I know you may have learned about a model back in the day that involves stages. But the model now that most mental health professionals are using is more of a grief loop. Meaning these feelings are going to ebb and flow. They're going to be circular, not linear. So they're going to come, they're going to come again, and again, and again. And maybe in a different intensity over time. Yet they will still probably all be there and possibly pop up, even at the most unexpected times. So I just want to plant that seed that these emotions are going to revolve probably in a [inaudible 00:06:25] fashion, just so that you're not surprised. And that you also could maybe expect for that to happen. Not only for yourself, but the people in your world.
Well, our daily life has dramatically shifted. And there will be more changes. And I've talked to many people lately who are saying that they've kind of been savoring this different pacing of life and being able to perhaps take breaks at different times. Or perhaps just have more time with family if they're in a household of people. And there have been other people who are really struggling with the loneliness factor. So we're going to talk about all of the possible circumstances.
And family decisions or household decisions will have to be made. Things are going to have to shift. And certainly, there will be a lot of changes and a lot of accommodations to allow for extra safety precautions, extra time. And these are all discussions that are beginning to happen in most people's worlds.
And as we think about the anticipated events, I know it is summertime and there are so many planned parties, and celebrations, and fun runs, and activities at parks, and sporting events, concerts. There's a million different things going on. And most of them, many of them in fact have been postponed or they're gone to a virtual platform.
And once again, it is a grief and loss. And yet many of us are finding some gratitude within that to realize that thanks to technology, we can still be social. And that is a serendipity of sorts that maybe many of us didn't think would happen.
So this new reality is part of what we're adjusting to and part of what we've adapted to. And as we get a little bit further into the session, we're going to think about what do we want to take from this experience of working remotely, of staying at home? How do we want to bring some of that forward into our future?
We also need to think about how we're making plans and adjusting to the fact that they might have to be tentative. They might have to have backup plans upon backup plans. So there's been a lot of disappointment. And once again, a lot of losses to acknowledge throughout this journey. And the thing we can do is honor our feelings. Acknowledge them, process through them, be present with them. And do the mourning, the M-O-U-R-N-I-N-G, that is required to work it through.
And that could be a lifelong process. I mean, this event and the circumstances of what's happened in our world is going to change us forever. And yet, we will find that resiliency somewhere. And it's important to keep that in mind. How are we persevering is the question I'm asking everybody. How are you doing it? It's phenomenal to see people rising up and adapting.
And when I think about resilience, I think about the analogy of an aircraft. Did you know the only reason that an aircraft can take flight is because of resistance. And certainly, we've experienced a lot of resistance.
So we want to think about our plans for the future. And certainly we want to make them. It's just that we may have to adjust our expectations and also our timelines. And then it's really interesting in my family currently, I am married to a person who works essentially. But he has been working from home. He goes into the manufacturing plant once in a while. But for the most part, he has taken over the dining room.
We also have two high school students. One is an international student and they have done e-learning. We've got an older daughter just out of college, making her first career transition, living at home for a little while. And she is an essential worker. And just to know, and then we have one other daughter who's living at distance about 1,000 miles away who just graduated from college. So it's been interesting to see in our family, the differences of comfort levels in terms of even making plans.
So my daughter, who is 1,000 miles away is going to be traveling here over the summer. And originally she had thought she would come earlier. But because of COVID-19, none of the rest of the family members were very comfortable with that. Some were, some weren't. So we've had to have a lot of discussions, and negotiating, and really honoring on the side of everybody's safety. And that has not been easy. And I know that that will be part of your unfolding in your future as well.
Also, have patience with the process and allow yourself time to adjust. I think in most of our minds, we feel that all right, we'll just flip this switch and we'll just show back up in the workplace. Everything will be fine. We'll be okay. We'll adjust.
And that's probably not accurate. I think most people need more what I call transition time. It's not the actual physical change. It's more of the emotional, psychological, mental adaptation to the change that takes a little while. Once again if we could be compassionate with ourselves, have some patience. Also have patience with those around us that will probably help us weather the bumps as we do readjust.
So I've got some great comments coming into the chat. I'm just going to pause and bring in a couple of thoughts here. One person is saying that they can't hear me. If anybody else wants to drop in and chat. If you can hear me, it could be the bandwidth on your end, or you just may not be connected to the audio or perhaps the volume on your computer might not be up. There's a lot of issues that can happen with that.
So let's see. All right. Some can hear me. Thank you. All right. We've got a lot of people on this call. Let's see. Every time someone chats in, I got to scroll back. Hold tight. It says, I have to come back to this one. Here we go. "I feel like this time is altering my personality where I'm becoming more withdrawn and liking it. In talking with my friends, I am hearing the same from them. Are you aware of any studies or data supporting that's happening more and more to others?"
Well, that is really interesting. I think we're going to have to watch that. I haven't seen any studies yet about this particular period of time or season that we're walking through. But there might be some studies from the past about people who are in isolation or perhaps just not socializing as much. At least not physically, and how that's affecting them. I think this will be fascinating to watch.
So the point is that you are appreciating it. You're noticing it for one, that's huge. And you're responding to it and learning to like it, and you're adapting to it. So that's really fascinating that you're working on processing all that. I love that. Here's somebody else.
"I'm in the same situation, daughter's been going to school in Japan, her master's, and was scheduled to come home June 22nd. However, she isn't coming. May not see her until she graduates in June of 2021." So lots of rollercoaster emotions. Yeah. Wow. I recommend maybe doing a lot more FaceTime if you can. And perhaps even thinking about wearing a linking object or a piece of jewelry, or something that she's given you or that has meaning. Maybe a piece of her clothing, just to feel closer to her. But my heart goes out to you. That is very, very hard. And we'll hear your resiliency story in about a year, and hers as well. So that's great.
All right. So what to work on before going back? Well, practicing our relaxation techniques. Your number one go to relaxation technique hands down will be deep breathing. I know you've heard it before and you're probably rolling your eyes like, "Oh yes, I know." But have you caught yourself holding your breath during times of stress and worry? I know I have. Sometimes when I have been out in traffic, not recently obviously. But I have noticed I'm holding my breath or I'm breathing in a very shallow fashion from my chest. That's not effective. And yet, the human body tends to kind of hold, and freeze up, and tighten up. So part of that could be the breathing.
So what I recommend is doing what's called round breath, where you going to breathe in for three seconds, three to four seconds. And then you're going to hold it for about three to four seconds, and then you're going to exhale. So the way that I do it and find it most relaxing is in through the nose. So hold for three to four seconds, and then exhale like a whooshing sound through your mouth with your mouth open. And then if you want to take it a little further, before you would take another breath, push out a little bit more. And it kind of creates a greater vacuum and it causes your diaphragm to expand more fully, bring in more air. Highly recommend that. You can repeat that pattern about 10 to 12 times, especially if you're in the heat of the moment and there's a stressor watching over you. And you just are struggling. That is one of the best techniques of all.
Mindfulness involves just stopping where you are, and pausing, and being in the moment. So I've learned a great technique called five, four, three, two, one. What it involves is just stopping wherever you are and looking around you. Notice five things in your environment. And mentally ponder those things and just notice them.
Then, number four would be four things that you can hear. So attune your hearing and just pause and listen. And take a few moments, and see if you can come up with four things that you're hearing. Then three would be things that you're touching right now. So this would be your kinesthetic sense. And it could actually be how your seat feels in your chair right now. And if you imagine yourself getting heavier and heavier in your chair, you will get a deeper relaxation.
And you could also just notice, how did my feet feel in my shoes right now? Maybe I have an itch on my big toe. I mean, it sounds silly. But when you notice what's going on with your body, you can get more in touch, which is mindfulness.
And then the second number two would be two things you can smell right now. And see if you can notice that and raise your awareness. And then finally, one thing might be something that you're tasting. So notice kind of the taste in your mouth.
And then finally, one of the greatest relaxation concepts is to drop your shoulders from your ears. Bring them down. And then I want you to notice your jaw muscle. This muscle right here carries a lot of tension. In fact, I was just at the dentist and they said, "Do you grind your teeth?" And I said, "I don't at all. I don't think so." How do I know? I'm asleep. And they would say, "Well, we're seeing something on the side of your tooth that might indicate you're grinding your teeth." I'm probably holding a lot of tension my jaw. So if you can even help your job by massaging it like I'm doing, that will help you get a deeper relaxation in the rest of your body.
And finally, bring your tongue down off of the roof of your mouth. So shoulders down, relax the jaw, tongue off the roof of the mouth. That will take you through a wonderful mindfulness moment if you can do that.
Journaling has also shown to be in the research, a highly effective way of getting things out on paper. And I can tell you statistically, that 80% of the things that we worry about happening do not actually happen the way we think they're going to. And one of the benefits of writing them down is you can go back and check. You can even make it a little game and say, "I'm going to test what you said. And I'm going to see if these things don't change by the time they come along."
So in the meantime, what you can do is go with the odds and say all right, there's an 80% chance. I know there's always the 20%, right? So make a backup plan. But there's an 80% chance this thing will not play out the way I think it's going to. So why don't I have a confident wait and see attitude? In other words, I'm going to suspend my worry. But I'm not just going to suspend it and go la la la and hope it goes away. I'm going to write it down. So get it out into a journal, notebook, or a piece of paper, and go back to it. I challenge you to go check it and see if something doesn't change.
Also have coworker conversations and discussions with your leadership especially about how this is going to play out. So that you understand which safety mechanisms are in place and the additional items that you can do to take care of yourself.
So it's very likely that in the beginning, we'll all be very cognizant of the safety measures. But then, we could easily fall into kind of a forgetful mode or a comfortable situation where it becomes more important for us to speak up with each other.
For example, I'm already envisioning if a coworker were to come to close to me, I would need to step back and say, "You need to take a step backward. Too close." Those are the conversations that can be awkward, and yet they will be vital. I like having the anticipatory conversations so we can ask questions. And that will give us more reassurance and peace of mind around how is this going to play out in the actual work environment.
So do ask a lot of questions, do chat with your coworkers and find out how do you want me to remind you? If you forget to put your mask on when you walk in, we're going to have these conversations. So planning our interaction, and heading them off at the past, and letting our coworkers know I am not comfortable even going into our break room for awhile. Maybe never. I don't know.
"So I would prefer to either step outside to do some socializing. Or perhaps if there's a restaurant nearby, we could eat our lunch outside. I would maybe consider that, but I'm basically going to be off by myself." And just have those candid conversations and let them know it's nothing personal. It's just my comfort level. And I want to minimize any risk for myself and for others, and just have that conversation.
So if you can also visualize going back, that will be important. And someone's asking in the chat if we're going to get a copy of this recording. It should be available. You'll have to check back with your leader to find out how to get that. Great question.
Here's another really important comment. "One important factor that's impacting this person is how much news we're watching on the internet or TV. A great deal of it can be agitating and depressing."
Absolutely. Not to mention, I don't know. I've heard it said that at least 50% of the internet is [inaudible 00:21:37]. I don't know if you've ever heard that, but I can't prove it. I've heard it. So it could be misleading. Yeah. So go to your trusted resources. Thank you for mentioning that. Do your fact checking, and make sure you're looking at credible statistics, and numbers, and good reputable sources. That's really important. Try to limit exposure. And I would also extend that to of course, social media.
So one really great technique as you do prepare to go back. And hopefully you've been doing this all along, but if not, you can start today. Is to book and your day with the front end being free of media and social media for at least the first, see if you couldn't do the first 30 minutes to an hour. And that involves staying off of your devices and not jumping onto news channels and things like that.
Also then last end of your day, as you're winding down, getting ready to go to sleep. Get off of the internet, get off of the TV and all those different things. And make sure that you're just insulating your mind on those very important beginnings and endings of your day. It may affect your mindset. Try that and see if it doesn't help. So get into a calm, comfortable place. You're going to get comfortable. Get your favorite chair. Take some deep breaths as we mentioned earlier and close your eyes. It works best if you can do that. Focus on that breathing. Again in through the nose, hold a little bit, exhale through the mouth. And just get in touch with where you are in the moment being present with yourself.
And then imagine how it felt before. How comfortable did you feel at work? Conjure up those emotions and that experience. And just kind of put yourself mental imagery wise into that environment.
Now, I want you to use your imagination to picture your coworkers' faces. And chances are, you might be picturing them at a safer social distance with a mask on, right? Whatever it takes to get you oriented around visually preparing to go back. It's like mental rehearsal.
Now I don't have an exact study to quote, but there has been research done with professional and college sports teams around mentally practicing their sport. And I know in one particular study, they took a team of basketball players. I think it was a college level basketball group. And they put half of the players in a room in chairs. And they said, "All right, close your eyes. I want you to go to the free throw line now and mentally image yourself. Just imagine it, throwing free throws for the next 30 minutes." Now that could be a torturous amount of time if you think about it. That's a long time. And then they had the rest of the players go down to the court. And they did this every day for I think at least a week. Maybe a month. I forget. So then the players who went down to the court actually stood on the free throw line and threw the balls.
And what they found after the study was completed was that the people who sat in the chairs actually outperformed the people who were down on the court. Now of course, we want to know is that study replicated. We want to know all about that, and that's for another time. But it's very fascinating that the mind is so powerful and we can do that.
So as we move forward here, let's talk about mitigating the resurgence. So we still are going to have to consider probably not touching our coworkers and even with our friends and family. I know my mother currently is immunocompromised. And when I do see her, it's outside in front of her house, or I'm dropping and running and she's carefully wiping things. She's being very, very cautious and she has remained healthy. But she's 76 years old, and she's vulnerable. So definitely we're not kissing. We're not even elbow touching. We're not doing any of that.
And that is sad. And that is hard. Because as humans, we do get those feel good neurotransmitters that start flowing. I mean, we've got endorphins, we've got dopamine. And oxytocin even which can give us more comfort in our body that we get from human touch. And unfortunately, that is not going to be happening.
The bigger question might be this hesitation to go into crowds. And certainly I know business conferences have been canceled. A lot of social activities are no longer happening. People aren't traveling to destinations the way they were before. But simply in your own environment, your own community, thinking about going into even a crowded store may not be comfortable for you.
So I think it's a matter of getting in touch with what's best for you and how do you communicate that to your loved ones. So keep managing those risks and keep those healthy habits in place.
So think about what you gleaned during the time. And if you have had an opportunity perhaps to cook more more, I know I've gotten creative. A couple of times I've gone to the grocery store, and yeah, certain things not available that I was planning on implementing. So I had to go with plan C and D.
And that again, is creating that resiliency within us. I know that getting the whole family more engaged and cleaning has been certainly helpful and wonderful. And because everybody's been online, or doing e-learning, or on web calls, it has changed the whole routine I'll say that, in our household. As some relationships have faded a little bit and others have become more prominent. And that's been interesting for all of us to consider. I have gotten out into nature more, and I've certainly appreciated it. So gratitude has been a bigger part of my theme lately. What am I grateful for? Really looking at the simple things and savoring that.
So it will change us. It has changed us. There's no question. And yet, if things are not feeling comfortable, if we feel like we're not adapting, or perhaps we're experiencing other stressors as well. This can bring up a lot of trauma for people and a lot of previous loss, and just a lot of fear in general. And when that happens, most of us, for example if we go through what I call a situational loss. It's going to be a situational type depression where we might feel down for a couple of weeks, maybe two to three weeks.
But if we've had changes in our eating habits and our sleeping habits both, and it's going on longer than two to three weeks, I would highly recommend getting in touch with Beacon and getting in touch with your provider, and having a conversation about what you're experiencing. So if anyone in your family, your household is, definitely reach out and connect.
So think about maybe you've connected more digitally or through the technology. Perhaps you've done some virtual water cooler Zooms for your coworkers, or you might've done a happy hour. You might have done a sort of a family reunion type experience or a friendship group experience. I know my daughter went to a college out of state. And she has probably once a month gotten on to Zoom on a Saturday night when they would be potentially sitting around a bonfire or having fun at college. She would get on a Zoom and they would talk for an hour or two with a bunch of different people. And that's been really fun for her and a way to stay connected even at distance. So it wasn't just about COVID-19, it was more about the distancing.
So let's talk a little bit more about the seniors and how vulnerable they can be not only physically, but emotionally, just the loneliness factor. And in our state, just as of probably the last week, there have been some restrictions lifted in terms of now folks who are in assisted living or nursing home environments are able to visit with loved ones. Of course, all the precautions are taken outside of the building, meaning outside in front of the building. And yet, there is talk still about, well then what if these people go home with their loved ones to their families?
So of course this is on everybody's minds. And you're hearing, and you've heard stories about people who have had to stand outside of their loved ones' windows at facilities and hold up notes, and try to just call them and talk through the phone while they're seeing each other through the window. So the loneliness factor has been absolutely devastating.
And I don't know what we'll find out as we look at the research beyond this period of time. If it may or may not have contributed to some people's increased health issues or possibly even death. Who's to say? But it is very sad to know that so many seniors are feeling isolated. And it really has brought this end of life more to the forefront for them because of the risk. So that's been really, really challenging.
They may have the most hesitancy around socializing again, mainly because of their physical vulnerability in their age. And this is to be expected. I have seen that with my mom. I know in her neighborhood, they're starting to do some socially distanced happy hours maybe once every couple of weeks on a Friday. And she's been very reluctant and she's strongly considering going, but she'll be wearing her mask and being very aware of the distance. Obviously she's going to bring her own food and beverage. It's not going to be a potluck anyway. But she does have serious concerns about being around her friends again. So she is trying to keep the big picture in mind and keep her health intact to weather this whole season. And that's been hard, but she's finding her way with it. And again, she's doing a lot of processing number feelings by talking about them. And I know she does do some journaling and writing. So that has helped her a little bit. Obviously they're missing seeing their families.
And then you've got kids. For example, grandkids who are asking and saying, "I miss grandpa." And it's probably for a younger child, they don't have a very good sense of time. And to keep it really simple is probably the best recommendation.
So to say something like, "Yeah, we can't see grandma right now. We'll probably see her soon. We'll hopefully get to see grandma soon." And then if you redirect the child and say, "Why don't we make a picture? Let's draw a picture for grandma, or let's call grandma and sing her a song," or something like that. As opposed to saying, "We can't see grandma because we're going to get her sick." That will only raise a child's anxiety. So with kids, it's a little bit challenging to explain what's going on. We have to give them some basic terms that they can understand at their developmental level.
So children as we're speaking of them, they tend to be highly resilient. And they love to rise up to a challenge. And they often think things are fun, even though the adults are finding them to be challenging, and difficult, and hard to do.
So kids tend to move quickly and bounce back. And we need to allow them to have their feelings and express them. It's okay just to do a lot of listening and just reflect those feelings back and say, "It seems like you're really upset right now." It helps them learn how to label their feelings. We don't have to solve it or fix it for them, but to allow them to be there with their feelings is really profound. And most will not need to go into detail, although they might inadvertently or not be exposed to media or social media. And then we'll need to answer some questions and go down that route.
So there's a wonderful website that I have run across recently if this might be helpful. It's child and mind. So two words, childmind, And that website has offered me some tools in how to talk to younger children especially about COVID-19. They are going to enjoy returning to school and social and sports activities if and when that's allowed in their area. And yet that brings up more fears for everybody I understand.
So, someone is asking in the chat about, "Any insights that I can offer to baby boomers like my mom, who don't apply COVID rules when they want, and other times they don't? Very emotional ups and downs, same advice for battling isolation. She's 65." Yeah. There is a lot of, like I said, different perceptions about how much danger is out there and how well we need to take care of ourselves. So I would try to have a lot of just open-ended discussions. And you may have to assert your boundaries and say, "It's difficult to be around when you're not wearing your mask. It's difficult to be around you because I'm worried about your health and me giving you something or spreading the virus."
So just sharing from your heart and how you care about your loved one is probably the best approach. And then you may have to set some boundaries and just perhaps remove yourself from the situation or put in safety precautions that can be helpful to your mom.
So for example, I went to my mom and asked her, she's going to want to see my daughter when she comes up from her college experience. And I said, "Mom, how would you feel comfortable? Because I know you're going to see her. But how would you feel most comfortable?" My daughter wasn't even thinking this was going to be possible. So my daughter's probably more concerned than she is. And she said, "Well, I would only do it at an outdoor coffee shop with enough distance. We would both need to wear a mask. We would have to use hand" ... so she had a plan. Just, mine for her might've been just don't go there. But she's going to do what she's going to do. So it is very challenging. And there are a lot of generational differences. Thank you for bringing that up. And just being fearful is really hard. So okay.
Here's somebody who's talking about a child. "We call it 'the big germ' with my four year old. She's got a four year old level of understanding and we talk about how it's sad not to be able to play at Chick-fil-A. I was super surprised with how easy it was to talk to her about it."
Yeah. Kids are pretty understanding. And they're also easily redirected if we can get them onto something else. That's another beautiful thing. So these are some great comments. Hopefully I can come back to grab a couple. Let's see. Moving on ahead here. A couple more slides.
So for couples who may have been together just a little too much lately, this will be interesting to watch what happens. And my husband and I are using this as a practice retirement season. We're both 55. And we're talking about in the next five years whatever, 10 years. So we took it as a dry run and we decided, "Hey, let's see how does this go." And we've had to communicate a lot. And there's been a little bit of conflict. I will say that as well. And yet we've been able to resolve it and come to some really deeper levels of communication.
I am not quite as social as my husband. So I had to set some boundaries just around how I'm going to be working here remotely. I mean, we've been good for each other. We'll get up and go, "Have you taken a break lately? I think you should get up." That's a good thing. The part that's not so good is when I'm on a webinar and he would just walk right into my office. I would have to have a discussion and say, "I'm going to need to put a do not disturb sign on the door. Because either you understand that when the door is closed, you can't come in here, or not." So we had to have that talk right away as well. So communication is the key. And talking about what you need assertively and what would help you.
And then here's a key phrase that might help, because this one has been proven in the research to empower people that want to say yes to you. You phrase it like this, "Would you be willing to," and then finish the sentence. So would you be willing to? Now be prepared. They could say no. If you ask it in that way, they're more likely to want to say yes to you. So don't use it for manipulation. That's not my point. But definitely use those words if it helps you in any way, shape, or form.
So having discussions about returning to the new reality is going to center around routines that will be changing. And how are we going to do meals now? How are we going to do cleaning? What's going to happen with laundry? These are all important conversations. And just a lot of compromising what's been happening.
And then I want to make mention about the single people as well working remotely in isolation, how difficult that is. And for singles, it's going to take a lot of extra effort virtually to stay connected. A lot more phone calls, more texts, more FaceTime, maybe more social media to connect more with people. And perhaps now that the weather's getting nicer, there might be opportunities to do it safely outdoors.
So what I'm finding for single people is also, they could be viewed by their colleagues as, "Well, there's no family obligations going on in your household. So you could shoulder some extra work." So I don't know if I'm stepping on anyone's toes or not, but that can happen. So having a way to converse with your leader about sharing the team load. I think often there's an assumption there that if you're single, well you can pick up the slack or you don't have any responsibilities for children or elder care. So just you go grab that or why don't you cover it? It's like a coverage issue. So I hope that you're also talking about that with your coworkers, if that's part of your picture.
Somebody is putting in the chat that, "My husband and I tell each other often it's a good thing we like each other so much or this could be really bad." Yeah, absolutely. And hopefully you're finding your sense of humor. I think you probably are. Here somebody's chiming in that's saying, "In Canada, approximately 85% of COVID deaths were in nursing homes." Yeah. So again, once again, it's important to do fact checking. And just really keep in mind that that senior population is extremely vulnerable. Any time we've got a group home situation, communal type living with more people, that's going to be a high risk environment at every age for sure.
Well, as you think about returning to that outside world, what have we learned about ourselves? I learned one thing about myself. I thought I had a time management problem. It turns out I have a focus problem. I'm working on that. I realize it's not about the time. It's more about the focus. And in our family, we had a real eyeopening experience in looking at the budget. It was a good time to take a pause and do some assessing, and notice some of the differences in order to be mindful about how we want to reintegrate.
For example, looking at the spending. And I think all of us have realized that we have dealt with delayed gratification in a resilient way. And is there a nugget there that we want to take to the future? I know one of the best practices when you think you want to buy something that's a significant purchase, or even if it isn't. Put it on a list and check back in two weeks or even a month, and see if you still really feel that you need that item. And again, it's a way of sort of building in a buffer of what if we wait, what will happen? So part of what's gone on is we've learned a lot about our spending, about our routines.
And hopefully you have a very good solid routine now, where you're focused on getting great sleep. You are staying hydrated, you're eating nutritiously. And those perhaps might be some of the best benefits to take out of our experience. As well as looking at allowing ourselves more time to adapt and adjust.
So like I said earlier, if you're experiencing an unusual amount of fear or you're just concerned and you're not sure is this normal for me to be this worried about something, reach out to one of the Beacon professionals and run it by them. And get an outside voice, get another person to help you talk through your feelings. It's so profound to help you be able to move forward with confidence, and with comfort, and with safety in mind.
So here is a couple other comments. Somebody's saying, "My husband and I have gotten closer emotionally and understanding each other on a deeper level." That's great. That's really great. Yeah. I think part of what happened for my husband and myself is we just finally slowed down our communication enough to do better listening, because there wasn't as many time pressures. And perhaps that's something we definitely want to take into our future.
Here's a good question. "How do you suggest we handle a relationship with a coworker or associate that seems overly cautious, apprehensive, even fearful of the environment that they're finding themselves in?" Well personally, what I do is a lot of I just reflect people's feelings back and I let them talk, and I listen. And remember by doing that, it helps them come back to their thinking part of their mind because many of us get extremely overwhelmed when we're in that emotional place. And in fact, there often aren't a lot of words to describe how we're experiencing that. But if we can have somebody listen to us like a sounding board and just reflect back either it sounds like, or it looks like, or it seems like. And then put the feeling out there. Even if we're guessing. Like I might say, "That sounds really disappointing. It seems like you're feeling really down about that." They're going to correct me if I'm wrong.
But what I'm doing is I'm creating what's called a neural resonance with that person so they feel understood. And sometimes simply by feeling understood people then gain more confidence and feel empowered to take steps to take care of themselves. So certainly if you had a helpful tip you could offer. But often that may not hit the mark. I think just good listening to your coworker and just being really supportive will go a long way until they work through their own feelings and their own timeline developmentally to get to the point where they feel more comfortable.
And as a coworker, there's only so much we can do. And then it goes out of the scope. We're not trained professionals, we're not usually mental health counselors, and it goes beyond. So we could even offer and recommend, "Hey, did you know we have this great Beacon resource, have you ever called them? It might be great. I would call it with you." I mean, I have done three way calls with people where I'm like, "Let's get on the phone with one of those employee assistance people and let's talk," We could try that too. I mean, I don't know how far and how close you are willing to go with this person. But if you can just listen, and one of the best listening techniques is to offer about two extra seconds after you think that person's done speaking.
So with our coworkers now, we're all working remotely. This is harder because if we're not on a video call, then we might be on a phone call. And when you leave that pregnant pause as I call it, it can be a little awkward and uncomfortable. But usually encourages the other person to say more. So I would simply be very supportive.
And then if you did have a concern, just tell them. "I'm concerned about you. Is there anything I can do to help?" And then maybe consider you could certainly call Beacon about your coworker if you feel that they're really struggling. That would be another option too, that you could do. So great questions that are coming in here. All right.
Just checking our chat really briefly. And then we're about ready to stop the recording. Here's one person saying that, "I'm very concerned about school. I have [inaudible 00:46:05] and they are discussing remote learning. I'm able to work remotely. However, I have no idea how I'd be able to work and homeschool. That causes me great anxiety." You are not alone. You are definitely not alone. Yeah. And I'm hopeful that there will be resources developed in time for this if you haven't done this kind of e-learning before. But that would be a great conversation to have with your leader, just to explain what's going on with your kids. And have a conversation about how might I get some work done, given that I'm going to have to flex a little to do this remote learning with my kids. So I would definitely bring that up to my leader. And I think that will help with the anxiety.
Number one, know you're not alone. Number two, there will be resources and tools that you can access. And number three, have a conversation with your leader to get some guidance on that. I think that would be wonderful.
So all right, well let's move ahead here one more to my thank you slide. I'm going to stop recording, and then I'm going to go back. And you can continue to put questions or comments. We've got about 11 minutes or so. So let me just stop the recording.





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