Early on in the COVID-19 lockdown in SA (when we thought it might be 3 weeks MAX!), I reassured most clients to just “aim for sane”. It was about survival. Now, it looks like we will live under restrictions for several more months. And, we don’t know what comes after. So, whilst survival is still a valid goal for many; for others the goalposts must start to shift. The goal becomes more about learning, growing and changing. Here are 5 steps for recalibration to set you up for change.
5 years ago, after years of stress, I made a life-changing decision and went into a kind of “voluntary self-isolation”. During this time-out, I felt tired for no good (physical) reason and despite sleeping deeply every night. It wasn’t my body that was tired. I needed a kind of transitional time-out to let my spirit and mind catch up with the change I had made.
Since then, I’ve come to understand it was my Recalibration. It happened after a stressful period… and before I entered a new normal.
Technically-speaking, recalibration is the process of getting an instrument back in tune (or a machine back in order) according to some standard or “factory” settings. Instruments need recalibration on a routine basis (e.g. every few years). But they also need it when they have been subjected to adverse conditions (like a piano dropped on a move to a new home!). Or when the instrument/machine is being modified to serve a new purpose.
You may need recalibration of your spirit, mind and body just because you’ve been carrying on too long in the same place or space and need the tune-up! But you may need it even more so if you were “dropped” by others while there. Relational abuse or a damaging environment can knock you into a place of self-doubt or self-deception. You may be struggling to think, feel or decide authentically as a result.
Or the reason for recalibration may just be a great one: bigger and better things are in store for you in this next part of your life! And you need to be in the mental and physical condition that matches the upgrade!
If we don’t give ourselves to being recalibrated like this, we may not function at our best in the new normal. Like an out-of-tune instrument, our “outputs” may be unreliable and our “measurements” inaccurate (We use that phrase: “skewed by our perceptions”!)
So, here are 5 steps for getting recalibrated during lockdown:
1. Get help
First, you need to employ the services of a “calibration technician” (or maybe even a few!) This is the person who can help you take honest stock of your current condition and identify the adjustments needed to get you back to your unique “factory settings”. They may be a medical or mental health professional, a spiritual advisor or just a wise friend. You need someone who can objectively assess your life with you and steer you true again. Most healthcare practitioners are available for virtual consultations during lockdown.
2. Do a “damage check”
Secondly, let them do a basic (but wholistic) “damage check”. This is about comparing the state of your spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health to norms for these areas. E.g. Are you feeling in control of your life? Thinking rationally? Are you emotionally stable? How is your sleep? Are you deficient nutritionally? As an Occupational therapist with an MA Theology and experience as a Pastor, I give attention to all those areas.
3. Routine maintenance
Then, based on the “damage report”, run some “routine maintenance”. Concentrate on the areas of your health that need some simple work. E.g. attend to your physical health by improving your diet, sleep and exercise. Physical health is a great place to start because the progress is easy to measure! (During this lockdown, my exercise regime has undergone the greatest recalibration as I’ve had to find new ways to stay active!)
Reintroduce the creative and leisure activities that feed your spirit and mind. Cut out other unhelpful activities or bad habits that keep you off course. See my resilience blog for some basics.
4. Fine tuning
Finally, with your “technician’s” help, fine-tune the recalibration process by going a bit deeper. Identify the problematic mind-sets and attitudes you have adopted during the past stressful phase. Then challenge and change them for you to function at your best again. Identify and fill the gaps in your knowledge or skill-set: What new frameworks do you need to use? What life-skills do you need to learn to meet the new challenges? Occupational Therapists are trained to equip you in these kinds of skills.
5. Set a deadline
Finally, set a deadline for the completion of this recalibration so that you can intentionally work through it. Having deadlines helps us measure progress. Maybe this deadline will coincide with the lifting of COVID restrictions?
Then, once you’re recalibrated, you will be ready, steady…. go!