I recently learned about an interesting outcome from Hurricane Katrina. Remember, folks lost their jobs and got displaced in many ways. They discovered this side effect of a disaster: we will probably accomplish less than we imagined. Sound familiar? Good to know it’s A Thing.

It’s like going on a retreat. You think you’re going to relax or create something, and you end up sleeping the whole time. We even joke about getting what we need, not what we want.

With the pandemic, we felt scattered because so many structures were gone. We had to create new ones—that took time and tweaking. We were continually re-calibrating and adapting. We had deep anxiety and uncertainty. Self care and care for family suddenly became more important. A lot of us had trouble sleeping. All of a sudden things we used to take for granted, like getting food, became a challenge. New information became critical, and we had to learn how much news is enough.

So…you didn’t get much done, eh?

Let’s reframe that thought right now. Aren’t some of the best experiences the ones that surprise you? The best vacations, classes, relationships? We need to be upended sometimes. Granted, this time was extreme. AND I’m betting you’re managing better than you think.

So start there. Consider what you have accomplished. Even if it’s easy or small, like making healthy meals for the family, or reading more stories to the kids. Don’t those things matter just as much as a work project? Decide what you are keeping, and commit to that.

Another technique is is to consciously categorize practices, routines, or structures into Ascending and Descending.

Ascending ones give us energy: exercising, making a meal, brainstorming an idea, implementing plans, creating art, playing music, having a good conversation.

Descending ones bring our energy consciously down to resting: taking a bath, watching a show, meditating, having a drink, reading, restorative yoga asana, admiring the view.

The pandemic taught us more deeply the value of both of these. For some of us, we needed to move our bodies more. For some of us, we needed to watch more TV. We needed whatever we gave ourselves. No judgment now, just deep acceptance and appreciation for what you have.

I usually cancel Netflix when we start getting more daylight. This year I kept it and added Apple TV. Emily Dickinson, anyone? That and my new dessert–a thimbleful of beautiful tequila. So every night, a little reward and conscious descending.

We’re moving now into that looping pattern of return, retreat, return…. This might feel very unstable for many. My invitation is to make it stable by seeing it as a pattern, and dialing in your Ascending and Descending structures accordingly.

Make it a Thing.