Staying home has its challenges…and its silver linings. For my husband and I, staying home is giving us a helpful preview of what one, the other, or both of us need to enjoy fulfilling days in our upcoming retirement.
With us both now working from home and spending more time together under one roof, our current pandemic lifestyle simulates changes that will be present in our daily lives when we retire and highlights differences in what we need to be, do and feel our best.
Such highlighting began for me with a growing sense of irritation and grumpiness. Having trouble making progress in my work, I felt frustrated, fragmented and disheartened.
When we feel out of sorts – maybe irritable, frustrated and/or disheartened - there is a practical framework from the field of neuropsychology that helps us zero in what is going on. It boils our various human needs down to three that are key to our sense of emotional well being: Safety, Satisfaction and Connection.
Life challenges our needs for safety, satisfaction and connection daily.
As examples, these days and in retirement we can attend to our safety when we:
boost our immune system with nutritious foods, rest and exercise o select our exposure to the flood of news, emails and social media
take 3 deep breaths to smooth the frayed edges of frustration.
We can gain satisfaction from accomplishment when we:
choose one thing that matters to us each day and addressing it…anything else accomplished is a bonus!
take one moment (or more) to really let our sense of accomplishment sink in…enjoy it. We can nurture our sense of connection when we
wish someone a “good morning!’ with genuine feeling, rather than out of habit.
think about or write down 1-3 things, experiences or people we feel truly grateful for in our day and why …how they touched us. The ‘ordinary’ as well as the extraordinary – putting them into words has power
upon waking, smile as our feet touch the floor.
Honouring our differences
The source of my irritation was obvious - my husband was working with the radio playing in the background all day: I need and am used to periods of quiet every day. I tried to work with this change but my frustration and irritability grew. Taking 3 deep breaths and using the lens of the framework to view my inner world, I regained some sense of owning what I was experiencing. Rather than blurt something out in frustration, I was able to ask for what I needed in a way that was fair to my husband and to me. You can appreciate, I am sure, the difference that makes!
Now understanding and respecting what I need, my husband supports periods of quiet during the day and other times we have the background music. With my safety needs addressed I am now feeling satisfaction with what I do each day (well, most!) and my husband and I have a closer sense of understanding and connection.
At the start of the day, the end of the day and anytime in between, it helps to pause a moment to check in with ourselves, to pay attention to how our mind and body are reacting to our outer world. When we are feeling stressed, triggered or reactive, when we are facing a challenge or a change, this framework of our 3 basic human needs provides a helpful lens for understanding what is going on for us. With that picture, we can take effective steps to address what we need.
And for added value, this framework helps us better understand what is going on for others when they are showing signs of unmet needs. At times like these and in our retirement, a little understanding of our self and others goes a long way for cultivating fulfilling days.
Catherine M. Miller, M.A., IAC-MCC
For Your Inner WellBeing2020©
Hanson, R. & Hanson, F. (2017) Resilient : How to grow an unshakable core of calm, strength and happiness. Harmony Books, NY.