COVID 19, has created a worldwide health crisis that has impacted every human on this earth. The novel coronavirus, COVID 19, has pushed the world into a battle with a deadly and literally invisible opponent. When you can’t see your opponent, it makes it hard to stay focused and disciplined, the two main weapons necessary to beat this enemy pandemic. This virulent disease has turned our everyday routines inside out. While many of us feel like we have been trained for self-isolation and social distancing, months into this global pandemic, we are learning that the restricted access is taking its toll on all of us — and will continue to do so.
Words like social distancing, masks, and self-isolation are common to how we engage with each other in this new way of being in the world. The impacts of this traumatic time are going to be far-reaching. This is the time to adopt and practice the same way of life as those applied by our trained military personnel.
Have you ever wondered why military people seem to always be ready for anything? They, myself included, have an unwavering resilience because military people are prepared for war and they stay prepared for the changes it brings. That preparedness comes from three things:
1) Understanding their victory is dependent on their mental, emotional, and physical states.
These three states are not treated independently. Instead they are carefully curated to operate as a whole system, each on codependent on the other
2) Train, train, train–-in other words they practice behaviors that will help them win which in turn develops the discipline and resilience they are known for. Winning a conflict is the ultimate mission of any soldier, sailor, marine, or airmen and as such, they are prepared for the psychological, emotional, and physical demands and restrictions of many situations.
3) Prepare for Reentry.
Putting focus and paying attention to the details will help to transition you from the battlefield effectively.
The best way for people with no military training to mitigate the toll of this enemy (pandemic) that we were not conditioned for is to learn and adopt the important aspects of a military mindset. Here are some lessons I learned during my military service when deployed to the Hungary-Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars. I hope you use them to help you meet the unexpected demands and restrictions placed on us all right now.
To Strengthen Your Mental Capacity:
Put yourself on a schedule — wake up and go to bed the same time Monday through Friday.
Put on your work clothes. This helps you get into the professional frame of mind and helps you make the mental switch when you change into your lounge clothes at the end of the day. This is the time you can make everyday business casual, but don’t go all out gym-wear.
Create a designated place that is for work. If it is in a common space in the house, clean up the workspace at the end of the day so it can transition back to your home space.
Start and stop work at a specific time (when possible). Mentally arrive at the office get the work done, and when the day is over, mentally power down and close the virtual door when you leave for the day.
To Strengthen Your Emotional Stability:
Making the shifts in your mental capacity by creating and sticking to a schedule allows you to deliberately turn your attention from work to your personal priorities. Social needs like connecting with family and friends deserve dedicated time. Hearing friends/family voices and seeing their faces lets you develop an integrated and balanced way of seeing life and solving problems. Staying connected also prevents emotional breakdowns, feelings of being overwhelmed, or anxiety (which we’re all naturally feeling right now).
To Build and Maintain Physical Capability:
We all know that exercise helps maintain weight but in times like this it is more important to know that it also is a natural mood lifter, can help keep you stronger, and maintains bone strength. Let’s face it, we are probably not moving around as often, as long, or as vigorously since this health crisis. Muscle tone and bone density are vital to your everyday existence — this is a way not to lose that.
To Prepare for Reentry
You can start preparing yourselves for “reentry” by thinking of these things now, having conversations with your kids about staying in practice with their hand washing and coughing into their arms, and scheduling time to speak with your leader and colleagues about how you all will maneuver in the new normal and what does that mean for you in the long run. Get clarity for roles and responsibilities at home. As we start moving back into our offices and satellite workspaces, schedules will change — be sure to sit down and have what I call “catcher’s mitt” conversations: outline the expectations, roles, and responsibilities for the house.
Why is This All Important?
Maintaining your mental, emotional, and physical state is required to maintain the best version of yourself for you first, then your family, friends, and colleagues. You never know if you are the one others are looking to for help through this health crisis. Your strength and discipline will resonate in your everyday actions. You owe it to yourself to come out of this battle better than when you went it.
Who would have thought graduations would move from a school stages and arenas to neighborhood streets filled with procession of cars beeping their horns and waving signs to congratulate the new graduates? Or that we would not be able to be with our loved ones when they are admitted into hospitals, or worse yet, having to miss the opportunity to say goodbye and grieve with others when they pass away? In other words, things are different, I mean really different. We can balance individuality and global citizenship by doing the things that will help us get back to sharing of our time and gifts to each other, embracing our inner fighter in mind, body, and soul. Wash your hands, wear a mask, be respectful of others by keeping 6 feet apart when moving around in public. It sounds simple but it takes discipline to consistently do these things. When this is over — and it will come to an end — we want to be in a position where we can reach out and to others across the world to share, laugh, and learn from each other again.