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Lessons from the Lockdown: Tips for Making our Time-Out Work for You

We are exactly where we should be right now.

I know that sounds crazy. Who wants to be stuck inside the house on a sunny day in late spring? No one. But, if there is anything your Guy’s Guy has learned it’s although life rarely serves up what we expect, it always reflects the world we create individually and collectively.

The silver lining of this lockdown is this long time-out brings with it opportunities for growth. So if you’re a glass half full kind of person like me, you see this time as an opportunity to assuage fear, learn new things, create positive changes, and come out ahead of the game while the quarantine slowly lifts.

I’m in no way minimizing the deaths and the millions of COVID-19 cases across the globe. We are all dealing with the repercussions of unprepared governments and a growing necessity for self-reliance. On the surface things suck, but if you devote portions of our down time on fixing yourself, you will emerge more prepared and better-suited to deal with what may very well be a new world. When the lockdown lifts, we’ll need to adapt if we want to flourish.

There will be changes as things open up again. Like it or not, we may be forced to wear masks indefinitely. We may also be under increased surveillance, testing, and a massive behavioral shift in how we interact with one another. No one’s going to like this, but let’s try to keep an open mind to new opportunities and a sharp eye on the bullshit and misinformation being thrown our way.

Although you may be working even harder now from home, there surely has been time to assess your current life situation and re-examine things you thought were so important. Everything about how we live will be reconsidered, so I’ve pulled together my Guys’ Guy’s tips for getting the most out of the quarantine while preparing for when the doors re-open and things get back to some semblance of normalcy.

Set Routines.

Those of us who are healthy and have been living under the lockdown for the past two months have had an opportunity to revisit how we live. I’m sure many of you have asked, “Is today Wednesday or Friday?” It’s easy to get lost in your phone, social media, and devouring content, but try not to fall into the deep end of the cesspool of mainstream media and divisiveness polarizing our country. To sidestep this trap, I crested a morning routine that has helped for keep my sanity and fostered growth.

I begin each day with a series of affirmations and talking to God, the Universe, and Spirit. This helps me to wake me up while lifting my mood and raising my vibration. I then perform a customized version of the Peaceful Warrior Workout developed by Dan Millman, author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior. It’s a series of fifteen upper and lower body movements followed by seventy push-ups and a yoga bridge pose. It stretches my body and spine, works my core, unlocks my chi or energy, and helps me feel loose, supple, and on point for the day. I’ve been doing this routine for over two years and it’s made a major difference in my fitness and mindset. So, of course I made sure to dial up this practice during the lockdown. If I could share only one tip, this would be it. Create a morning routine that works for you that combines physical, mental, and spiritual exercises. Work it, adapt it as you see fit, and do it every single day. It will help you in many ways.

Be mindful of what you consume.

A quarantine provides an opportune time to cook, enjoy your favorite food, and your favorite beverages at home. This down time can become a perfect storm for packing on unwanted pounds. Be careful about what you eat, drink, and what you feed your mind. Although it can be addictive, do not stay transfixed on the news, social media, or your phone. We need to stay up to date, but the news and social media often become toxic distractions.

You may have noticed that during this lockdown people on social media are even more tense, anxious, and argumentative. Most folks have dug themselves an even deeper hole as they double down on their political beliefs. Don’t waste your time trying to change their minds. You are not going to win online arguments that change anyone’s mind about who they’re voting for this November. Check in with your peeps, stay positive, and do your best not to fall prey to anger on social media.

Give watching sports a rest.

I have played or watched sports my entire life. Being a fan has always been fun, especially when my New York Yankees win another World Series title. But for all the years and time I’ve invested in being a fan, it’s amounted to nothing more than fun memories. This time off has helped me realize that our time is precious, and my Yanks are not sharing their World Series winnings with me. The respite from watching sports is helping me reset my relationship with sports to more of a focus on participation with less attachment to the teams I’ve followed.

Check in on your friends and family.

Modern life moves at lightning speed and as the pandemic shows that you never know what surprise may be waiting around the next corner. You never know when a pandemic may hit. So, pick up the phone and call someone close to you. A text, email, or FB message counts, but it’s not the same as a call, Facetime, Skype or Zoom. Make an effort to check in on your family and friends to see how they’re holding up during this quarantine. You may be surprised by the fears and uncertainty they may be dealing with. The other day, I was thinking about a Boomer buddy from high school who lives in Manhattan. He’s single and does not have a girlfriend or family living in the city. There are thousands of others like him. What will they do if they get sick? Fortunately, my old chum is fine. But I’m glad we connected, and all it took was a few minutes of my time.

Work on yourself, or a project.

Instead of pining for those times before had to wear face masks, try focusing on looking inside and determining where your life is headed and how you can use this precious down time to expand your horizons. Read a book, write a song, meditate, ask the universe for guidance. Don’t just sit there watching CNN, IG models, or old sporting events. Do something. New ideas, concepts and businesses will all be borne out of the current chaos. Make yourself aware of the possibilities and release your regrets about the past. If you approach the lockdown mindfully, this can be the perfect time for an upgrade.

Rest up.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I can, I’m hitting the sack an hour earlier and sleeping an extra hour. It makes a difference. I feel strong, clear-headed, and well-rested. Frankly, I can’t wait to hit the ground running once this viral nightmare ends. Speaking of which…

Get ready to emerge from the cocoon.

I’ll bet there will be a lot of newly overweight folks waddling onto the beach this June. No worries. We’ve all been spending the vast majority of our time indoors filled with anxiety, so a few extra pounds are to be expected. But, as we approach the lifting of the lockdown, make it time to tighten up your mental and physical game. Don’t be that guy who stumbles out of the gate after you’ve spent the past three months eating gummies and binging on reruns of Gomer Pyle or Beat Bobby Flay. Get ready to clear your mind so you can make the most of our collective “new new” we’ll face going forward. Be adaptable, and if you and yours have been blessed with good health, be thankful. You’re alive, amigo, and that’s what matters.

Show gratitude.

If you’ve dodged the Coronavirus bullet and pulled through the lockdown in decent shape, consider yourself lucky. Think of some ways you can serve, give back, and show your appreciation to our heroic workers on the front line.

Some say life is but a dream. If that’s true, don’t make it a nightmare. Take care of your health, take care of those in need, and use this time to reconsider how you are living your life. You may come out of this better than ever. Really. Stay safe.

This week’s Guy’s Guys of the Week are all the first responders, health care workers, restaurant and store employees, nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers, teachers, and civil servants. God bless you all!