A friend of mine asked me the other day for some advice.
Exhausted from a week of working, making sure her children had everything they needed to attend school safely and managing the day-to-day house responsibilities like food and a recent car repair, she was leaving a local restaurant with her carryout order when the person in front of her let the door close on her face.
My friend, whose arms were full holding the order, would normally just turn around and open the door using her back. But the past year and half of stress caught up with her, and she could feel the heat and frustration rising in her body.
“Why couldn’t she hold the door for me?” she said while recalling the story. “Is it that hard just to help a fellow human out?”
The answer: Of course not. But we are not living in “normal” times. Since March 2020, we have faced extreme challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of us have lost loved ones or cared for family members as they battled the virus. Others have lost jobs or debated returning to jobs they never liked in the first place. We’ve navigated the world of online learning with our children – all while trying to manage careers from our homes! And many of us are still social distancing to keep others safe.
It’s enough to make anyone grumpy, tired and frustrated.
That’s why now more than ever, we need to make sure our hearts don’t become socially distanced. When we aren’t able to connect, we grow callouses on our hearts. And those callouses can take a long time to heal.
Finding ways to connect with friends and loved ones is important. Pick up the phone and call a family member. Or, celebrate fall by meeting at a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch. (Fresh air is always good for the soul.)
And for your heart’s sake, remember we cannot control other people. We can only control how we respond to them.
The next time someone doesn’t hold a door for you, cuts you off in traffic or leaves their shopping cart behind your car in the grocery store parking lot, pause, take a step back and breathe. As hard as it may be, give people the benefit of the doubt. Creating a narrative in your mind can help you justify their behavior in the heat of the moment. So can repeating the saying, “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
Need some additional help to calm your nerves? Try the 4-7-8 breathing technique, which forces your mind and body to focus on your breath instead of your worries. Click here to learn more.