How to be a High Functioning Hot Mess During COVID-19

I think it’s safe to say that we’ve officially entered the phase of COVID-19 life where all the things suck.

There for a while, everything was going so well. We spent a lot of time outside. Hiking, running, riding bikes and soaking up the sun became the norm. Caiden was enjoying the newness of virtual kindergarten with Grandma, Beckett was sleeping consistently through the night and work was going really well (hooray for non-COVID-related digital projects!).

Caiden’s first successful bike ride without training wheels.

Now though, the tides have turned. As expected, the sun is setting earlier and the warmth is waning (appropriately, it is November after all), so we’re spending more time indoors. Unexpectedly, Caiden’s starting to whine about being bored during school and Beckett’s not sleeping super well at night (stupid night terrors and sleep regression). Add to that, people’s selfish nature and refusing to believe the science is leading to skyrocketing COVID-19 cases again. Seriously. The numbers are TERRIFYING.

So. How do we cope?

I guess the answer is: Any way we can.

To create the illusion of someone who has it all together on the outside, while working on the internal flailing, much like myself, here are a few techniques you can try.

High functioning hot mess technique 1: Find what makes you happy

Seriously, no matter how stupid it may seem. If it makes you happy, embrace it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I get great joy out of finding the perfect GIF for a conversation. Not something worthy of putting on my CV, but it makes me giggle and I know it frequently brings a smile to the friends I’m talking to at the time. If I can work in one from Schitt’s Creek, it’s an added bonus.

This weekend I actually wore a dress with a cute pair of sneakers and a baseball hat. Oh, AND makeup! Yes, I looked a bit like an influencer wannabe, but it was comfortable, I felt cute and it was nice to wear something aside from athleisure. No, I’m not giving up my running tights (you’ll have to pull them from my cold, dead hands), but it was nice to change things up.

So whatever makes you happy. Do it!

High functioning hot mess technique 2: Practice resilience with self-calming

Yeah, yeah, it sounds like a buzzword, but bear with me. One of my OG internal clients at the health system specializes in teaching resiliencey, and I’ve learned some really good self-calming techniques from them over the years that I put into practice when my anxiety is ratcheting up. A couple of my favorites are below:

  • 4-7-8 breathing. This one takes a bit of practice to get just right (kind of like learning how to properly breathe during Pilates or yoga).
    • Sit in a relaxed position.
    • Start by breathing in through your nose for the count of 4.
    • Hold your inhale for the count of 7.
    • Exhale through your nose for the count of 8.
    • Repeat until you feel better.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. There are a couple of different ways to do this, some people prefer guided muscle relaxation, but this is a quick hit variety.
    • Lay on the floor (or anywhere comfortable) and clench all of your muscles. Hands, feet, face, everything.
    • Start with your toes and slowly unclench them. Start wiggling them around and work through them until the tension is completely gone.
    • Repeat the process through each part of your body until you’ve made it clear up to your face.
    • Enjoy just laying there, corpse pose style, for a while. Or, y’know, until you have to go do something else. Or in my case, a kid decides to jump on me.
  • Use Turning Point’s Resilience Toolbox. Shameless pimping of the website, but it is actually really helpful info. Promise!

High functioning hot mess technique 3: Put down the damn phone

It’s difficult. I know, I know. But I won’t lie, I feel a lot better when I do it. With the election last week, and the fact that a lot of us are in much better headspace now, it’s time to step away from the doom scroll. At least temporarily.

This isn’t me advocating for complacency. Not at all. There’s still a TON of work we need to do as a country, and it’s going to take a lot of effort to get us going in the right direction. I acknowledge and embrace this. Instead, I’m suggesting that maybe we just step away and let the annoying/dangerous ones continue to shove their collective feet further into their mouth. You know it’s ridiculous when even their own media mouthpieces are starting to speak out against the outlandishness of their claims. Anywho…

Now take that philosophy and apply it to all the apps that you constantly scroll. Especially the ones that bring down your mentality. Refer back to technique 1, if it’s not bringing you joy, delete it!

I did that recently with Pinterest, and I feel loads better. Random app to feel that way about, I know, but I did. I dunno, ever since they did away with the like functionality and then the stream was polluted with ads and SPAM-y links (seriously, the amount of pretty pins that were actually absolute crap underneath was insane) I just couldn’t take it anymore. So now I don’t. It’s deleted and I really don’t think I’m going to go back. Considering doing something similar with my original Instagram. Save the adorable pictures of little C, of course, and any others that bring me joy, but yeah. I just feel sort of “eh” about it now.

High functioning hot mess technique 4: Follow credible sources

In this time of “fake news” and the scary number of people who believe conspiracy theories, it can be stressful to know what should be believed when it comes to staying safe. Find a sane voice to listen to.

For me, that voice is coming from a Trekkie who relishes in dad jokes and has reassuring one liners like, “Now is not forever.” Dr. Steve Stites, chief medical officer of my health system. He can be your sane voice too, all you need to do is watch our weekday Facebook lives (if you follow the page you can receive notifications anytime they go live).

What I appreciate most about sources like this, is that on the show Drs. Stites and Hawkinson approach everything from a scientific angle, NOT a political one. They’ve provided demos showing the efficacy of masks using deep freezers. The constantly reiterate the importance of infection prevention (wash your hands, avoid long interactions with people outside of your bubble and wear the damn mask). And they approach every question they receive from a place of reason. They understand how difficult this is, but remind us that we can get through it.

So that’s all I’ve got. 4 relatively simple steps to be a high functioning hot mess. Something we can all aspire to as we continue COVID-19 season AND enter flu season. Oy…

Okay, bye-eeeee.

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