I keep thinking that finding and maintaining some semblance of a balanced life will be – should be – getting easier. Sure, we’ve been adjusting to wearing masks, talking more loudly to each other in distanced groups, being home a lot more, etc.

But the routine we were used to has been substantially broken. And with the sheer daily cascade of negative news and issues hitting us, I find myself always feeling back on my heels… a little dizzy… and, well, weary.


Feeling The Effects Of Compounded Stress

My wife, Kristina shared an interesting article with me about how we all have limited “surge capacity”, which argues that we’re able to handle catastrophes for a while, especially those disasters that have a defined timeline. But, with what’s going on these days, there is no clear timeline, and we’re being forced to reckon with multiple catastrophes and issues all at once. Our surge capacity is tapped.

It hit me personally a few days ago. I had an amazing 100 mile bike ride over the weekend to raise money for autism, and then I was wiped. Not wiped physically – I felt fine. But wiped emotionally. Drained. I know that it’s real when I have almost no desire to exercise… something that is central to my / our life.

And, right now, the desire is pretty weak.


Re-Building Habits By Resetting Expectations

So, I made a decision – partly as a result of reading the article Kristina shared with me. I’m going to reset my expectations for myself, be realistic, and focus on simply rebuilding the habit. No grand goals, no major accomplishments. Just help myself to slowly regain the desire through simple habit building.

Now, every day, I’ll do either a nice bike ride or a short, easy run followed by eight body-weight exercises (okay, one uses a medicine ball), 25 repetitions completed twice. That’s it. I’ll let my body and mind decide when it’s time to increase anything. But for now, no pressure. Just enjoy it and make it a consistent habit again.


Maybe There’s Some Good To Take From This Year After All

How does this relate to working with neurodiverse athletes? Well, from my understanding, many neurodiverse people experience the world in a way that has ongoing challenges: sensory, processing, social, planning, attention… I won’t pretend really to understand the experience, because we all live our lives through our unique minds.

That said, if what I and many of us are feeling in 2020 due to Covid-19, social unrest, wildfires, political turmoil, economic uncertainty, etc., is anything close to what neurodiverse people like our son Lucas feel regularly, then maybe this year is teaching me how to be a little more empathetic, how to value the importance of “meeting people where they are,” how to be patient and understanding, and how to forge ahead together.

Maybe that’s the big lesson for me from this year.

If so, then 2020 is – despite everything I think I’m seeing – an amazing year, after all!


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