Remember the Bill Murray movie, Groundhog Day, where every day was the same? Bill’s character, Phil, was not a particularly emphatic, caring, or even a kind person. Being stuck reliving Groundhog Day every day was Phil’s journey to becoming a better person. Living with this pandemic reminds me of Groundhog Day, where much is the same every day. The difference is that there are no consequences to Phil’s failed attempts at personal growth, where there is in real life.
In the beginning of 2020, there was some thought that this would be over fairly quickly and life would begin to get back to more normal. As the weeks started to drag on, there was a realization that our new normal was not going to be anywhere near our old normal. What we thought was temporary now has a more permanent feeling. For many, we are living our own version of Groundhog Day with a lot of sameness every day.
Five Groundhog Day Hacks
Change it up, even if it is just a little. We can quickly develop a new habit and it is easy for our brains to follow that new pattern and create new behaviors. Try something simple such as driving a different route to your destination; taking the dog, cat, or even yourself out for a quick morning walk instead of drinking morning coffee; read a book or article instead of watching Netflix for a few minutes; do a 7-minute workout or ban yourself from news for 24 hours. You’ve got the idea, try something easy that doesn’t take a lot of time.
Feeling stuck and starting to stagnate? The sameness of the days can drain energy and negatively impact well-being. This can have a serious domino effect. If you’re employed, it is likely that your employer offers an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Reach out and talk to a mental health professional. It is usually a free resource and may just be the outlet that you need to see new options. Contacting an EAP is completely confidential. They are not authorized to discuss anything with your employer including who contacts them, how often, or what they discuss.
If everything is paused waiting, what are we waiting for? There is a lot of psychology around anticipation or excitement for an event. There are many times that the actual event does not meet the expectation of the event. If we continue waiting, then by most definitions, we are not living, we are simply existing. Milestone events such as birth of a new child, a wedding, or a graduation are significant markers in our lives. Equally important are the small special moments. The pandemic changed how we celebrate our successes and mourn our losses. No matter how, it is critical that we continue celebrating and supporting each other.
Balance risk with reward, and a lot of precautions. Everyone’s definition of risk is different. Based on your definition, do something that changes up your current four walls. It could be as simple as a drive to the forest or the country. Maybe eat dinner at a restaurant using patio seating or try camping. The point is to do something that you are comfortable doing, that creates some change in your established routine.
Add elements of fun and joy. Why are cat videos so wildly popular? Because they make us smile and laugh! Watch an old funny movie, think of an embarrassing or silly moment when you were young and call your sibling or parent to reminisce, ask your teen to take the trash out, send a meme to a friend and then reach out to them to share the chuckle, go outside and appreciate nature’s beauty, or pet your dog. Do something to capture humor or joy, even for a moment.
Groundhog Day had a happy ending through Phil’s changed actions. If stuck in your own Groundhog Day, what are you going to do to have yours end differently and better?
About the author: Brenda Edwards is the Executive Director of the law firm of Jaburg Wilk. She frequently writes on management topics.