How hard is this shit? It’s unchartered territory for all of us – something I never even considered happening in my lifetime.
Aside from the political turmoil and lack of response to the pandemic when it was in its infancy stage – we should have seen this coming.
We have been infringing upon our planet in ways it wasn’t built for – for far too long. I am late to the game with things like recycling, repurposing belongings, conserving energy – simplifying life. I just didn’t really get it.
As many are saying, this pandemic is making most of us feel like the world has been forced into a massive time out. But this pause seems virtually impossible for so many – because of the frenetic pace in which our lives move. It has been a daunting task to downshift the gears.
Most mornings I wake up, check my email, scroll Facebook or Twitter or Instagram and the news headlines. Without fail, I start crying. Not at the scope of this all; the lives lost, the projection of the reach of the virus; the harrowing stories from the hospitals and medical professionals. Of course all of that is mind numbing, frightening and incredibly strange. It’s ultimately devastating and I cry over all of that too. But the normal things that people are writing about – cooking for their families, posting pictures of their kids from years ago or reading funny posts about being trapped in the house. Those snippets of life are bringing so much emotion to the surface.
All of it makes me realize how emotionally and mentally taxing this experience has been and how it will be as we get further along.
The effects don’t just show up in one fell swoop, ie – a nervous breakdown on the floor, unable to get up. The mental health effects manifest through an unraveling that’s hard to identify during its slow unfolding.
For example, I don’t want to leave my kids alone. There’s a big mama bear phenomenon at work over here. As much as they are driving me crazy there is this major pull to never leave them – to protect them. It may not be healthy or practical or even rational but it’s a real thing. We as parents feel a real threat. A life or death threat against us and our family. Protecting our kids becomes tantamount to everything else. The problem is, our own self care becomes second fiddle. This the exact reason we need to find ways to take care of ourselves. Second fiddle self care results in second fiddle everything else care.
Of course it must feel like I’m heading into a diatribe on how to take care of your mental health. But here’s the thing – I don’t have answers that will necessarily work for anyone. Some days are better than others. The bad days suck and I can’t get out of bed. The good days have me motivated to enjoy time with my kids or attack overflowing cabinets and closets that have been overlooked for years. Or a mixture of both, depending on the hour.
But, for what it’s worth here are some things that are helping me to get through. And one last side note before the list. Everything I’m doing has been unintentionally taking me back to basics. These selfcare tactics are not manicures, pedicures, spray tans, massages, facials etc (although those are all things I’d started to do less and less before this new reality began – for no reason, just a shift in life).
So without further ado here are some “back to basics”that have been helping me:
Walks in the woods.
Cooking for family.
Allowing myself to do nothing and trying to remove the shame and guilt around it.
Calming activity like writing, art projects with the kids, painting walls of rooms.
Sitting in the cold sun to get that vitamin D hit.
Using the internet for real social connection to friends and family.
Keeping in mind that I’m not alone. We are all feeling at least some of the ways I’m feeling. That is comforting.
Movement – not every day and not with pressure or goals for weight loss or maintenance. Movement for mental health.
Writing down things I observe on walks that I don’t usually see. They bring moments of joy or connection to the earth that I wouldn’t have noticed before.
There was a before Corona virus and the after will never look like the before that we knew. Hopefully this new reality will help to change us all for the better, to notice the basics more. I hope we can see what we’re working with in this world and respect it. I hope we can realize the boundaries our planet has been showing us for so long. I want to see and feel things differently than I did before. We all need to because it’s those kids we need to protect. The mama bear syndrome has short and long term results. Protect them now to protect their future.
I wish everyone calm peace of mind as we all get through this as best we can.