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I actually ended up getting COVID-19 back in February.
So did my wife.
We fortunately had milder cases, but it took us a solid month to feel like ourselves again.
And that's what this issue is all about:
How long does it take to feel like yourself again when the world has other plans for what you can and cannot do? Of who you can and cannot be?
And does that even matter at all?
If you take the time to learn about the two categories below, the answers will surprise you.
Where Did My Life (And My "Self") Go?
When I learned that we would be heading into a worldwide pandemic in February and March of last year, I wasn't sure what to expect.
But what I thought I knew with certainty was that the raging tide of a new virus would come and go like other experiences I've had in my life.
But here was the great kicker.
What happens when you have experiences that fall outside the realm of what's normal for you?
When that happens, it's surprisingly easy for you go from feeling like yourself to, suddenly, not feeling like yourself at all.
One day I was confident I knew who I was and how I could move about the physical spaces of my world.
The next day, that all changed.
Here's the hard truth:
Our lives are a series of upheavals. We just don't know when they'll happen. And we don't know how we'll respond.
And the seriously tricky aspect of it all is our selves are interspersed in these upheavals.
So, to find yourself becomes exploring an art form in which you are a foreigner.
How to Feel Like Yourself Again
It's when your world shifts that your self, your very understanding of who you are, must shift along with it.
To facilitate this difficult process, it can be helpful to have some guiding lights.
These two categories are the ones I turn to when times are tough and the world is spinning out of control.
Feeling Out of Body
Feeling like yourself has many components, one of which is the feeling you have within your body.
I don't know about you, but I didn't even know what it meant to feel my body for the first 20 years of my life.
I lived in my head. That's just how it was for me.
But the body knows where you've been.
It remembers your every move, even if your mind can't always recall it.
And to come back to yourself, you must first come back to your body.
You must check in with how you're feeling.
How you do this must meet your natural style, but here are a few ideas:
- Set times throughout the day to check in with your body. Set a reminder on your phone if you need to.
- Start a deep breathing habit. Breathing deeply can actually change your physiology. You don't need to learn a martial art to be in tune with your body.
- Choose a body-focused activity, and do it for 15 minutes. Go for a walk. Do some sit-ups. Walk up and down stairs. Movement pulls you out of your head and into the physical awareness that your body needs.
Feeling Out of My Mind
For me, the hardest part of the COVID experience has not been that I'm physically confined to where I can go and what I can do.
It's been the sense of dread and unknown fomenting in my mind.
In that way, I mentally have not felt like myself for periods of time over the last year.
This instability can have deep, cascading effects.
Because the mind is linked to who you and I are.
It's linked to our bodies and our hearts.
It's connected to our sense of place and our understanding of being.
If the body is the vessel, the mind is the navigation.
And what good is the vessel if the navigation is stuck?
So, feeling like yourself requires that you tap into your mental awareness.
And the BEST way I've ever found to do this is to get the thoughts out of my head.
In my head, thoughts take on a life of their own.
But thoughts that become words that are spoken, or written down on paper, or shared with a friend or significant other, well, they become something else entirely.
They become what they are again.
Just thoughts--and nothing more.
What "I Don't Feel Like Myself" Actually Means
By now, you know that not feeling like yourself is not a rare phenomenon that only affects the weak and the afraid.
It's extremely common, and there are ways to fight through it, just like COVID fought through the physical and mental defenses of so many of us.
When you don't feel like yourself, it's not game over. It's merely a time to pause and reflect.
No great personal growth can happen without reflection.
The two categories I've shared above are among the most essential to focus on when you don't feel like who you know yourself to be.
But when you put in the work, when you stop so that you can start again, you can change your life.
You can feel like yourself again.
Or a new self.
Whatever it is, your role is clear.
Seize and claim who you are, no matter what is happening around you.