“Should” is not a strategy

Our workplaces have had to restructure. Our workload has intensified. Our home life has blended into our work life. The world as we knew it has fundamentally changed.

But what hasn’t changed are the expectations we hold of ourselves. Instead of adapting to a new way of being, many of us find ourselves frantically trying to uphold the “should’s” that we are used to, burning ourselves out in the process.

Here’s what we can do to adjust to the new way of living:

  1. Leave your should’s at the door: In times of heightened stress, we can find ourselves hung up on all the things that we should be doing. But focusing on what we should be doing often just makes us feel worse.
  2. Instead, adopt the “good enough” approach: The “good enough” approach helps us to keep things in perspective and allows us to recognize that we cannot do things like we used to. It’s particularly helpful when it comes to parenting. Research has shown that the “good-enough” approach has no negative impact on the relationship you have with your child. On the flip side, self-criticism heightens household stress. So, don’t worry if you child is having more screen time than normal right now.
  3. Out with the old, in with the new: By accepting that the world has changed, we open our mind to the new way of living. Identify what has changed for you and what new rules or boundaries are needed. Try to build these new rules into routines that are easy to stick to.
  4. Re-establish your supports: Many of the typical resources we had available to support us have diminished or changed, so we need to establish new ways of refueling our energy. Try some new activities to see what gives you an energy boost.
  5. Tweak your broader ambitions: Chances are, what is important to you now, is different from what was important to you before. Seize this opportunity to reassess your priorities and focus your attention on what matters to you most right now.
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