Updated: Jun 7
The skies may be clearing of pollution but the air is thick with fear. Was I imagining it or could I actually sense it during my last grocery run? Walking the aisles, were the people around me emitting fear hormones? Was I inhaling it and my reptilian mind correctly assessing those fears? Probably not but there IS something palpitable about the collective fear right now. People all over the world are worried and their worries are many. Will they catch the Covid-19 virus? If so, will they recover? Do they have the health insurance or money to cover the expenses of catching the virus? Will loved ones get sick? Will they get better or will beloved members of their family spend their last days in isolation on a ventilator? Will there be enough ventilators, health care workers and safety equipment for that matter?
A modern salve for our sores is information. “I don’t know. We’ll just Google it.” How many times have you heard or said this in recent years? How reliable is the information we have access to right now? How trustworthy the leadership? In what name are decisions being made? There are also, frankly, many questions to which there will be no answers for quite some time. For how long will you still have a job? Enough money to cover bills without that income? Will your position or business recover when this is all over? WHEN is this all over? And if you are one of the small percentage of workers that still has a job to go to every day, are you safe there? And for how much longer will you be? It’s a heavy load to bear. And at an unprecedented period in our history we have lost some of our comforts. Our salves for the soul. Our nature walks, surf sessions, gym time, dinners with friends and bingo. And so, into isolation we go. And for some of us, it might be plunging further into isolation as our modern society was already beginning to suffer from loneliness to begin with due to technology, social media, and our individualistically minded culture. We have watched these last several days as those small personal connections we had a grasp on disappeared before our eyes like sand through open fingers.
“JOY IS A DECISION, A REALLY BRAVE ONE ABOUT HOW YOU ARE GOING TORESPOND TO LIFE.” -Peggy O’Mara
Joy is a decision. Even when life sucks. We still have a choice. This, even if it feels like a chapter from a Ray Bradbury book sometimes, is the new temporary normal. And, as much as we don’t want to be here, it’s time to figure out our new normal. Like every new endeavour it’s going to take some trial and error. And grace. Loads and loads of grace. And by grace here I just mean giving yourself a break. You don’t have to know how to do this. You don’t have to have all the answers. Let’s think of it the same way we would taking on a new hobby or getting a new job.
Would you expect to be proficient in it right away or would you anticipate a certain amount of flailing? How long would you give yourself to be really good at your new job or hobby? It would do us well to apply the same mindset here. So leave room for mistakes and grace and if you need help getting there, reach out. If you don’t, maybe check in on someone else. We all need help from time to time.
IT’S OK TO NOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS.
Here are some approaches you may want to try on for size to deal with some of the feelings of isolation we are all having and relieve some of our collective burdens.
Talk to someone A professional, your funniest friend, your sweetest family member, that unflappable uncle that always gives the best advice. Just make it a point to reach out and be in contact with a phone call, text, video chat or whatever works for you. (Sending ridiculous Marco Polos to your grown up friends is a lot more fun than it sounds.) And schedule it on a somewhat regular basis.
Plan a Zoom date Zoom is a multi person video chat platform usually used for meetings in the workplace but can be a really fun way to get together with some of your pals while maintaining social distances.
Pen Pals Take a trip down memory lane by getting out that stationary that’s been at the back of your drawer forever and write someone a letter. If you have kids, introduce them to the idea of a pen pal and help facilitate. Even the little ones can mail pictures back and forth. (There are several options at USPS for sending letters and buying stamps without leaving home.)
Journaling The letter you write can also be to yourself. Or future generations. Or no one. The act of journaling has a certain way of soothing the soul and allowing feelings to come out in a non judgemental space. Here is a journaling resource to help.
Send an Ecard Make someone’s day and feel good about it by creating or selecting a card online to send electronically or having them print and mail it for you. There are many options now including Send Out Cards for a physical option and bluemountaincards.com for an electronic version.
Dinner dates via chat video This is just what it sounds like. Join another person or family at the dinner table with the laptop and chat while having dinner at your own abodes.
Non screen quiet time This could be doodling, staring at the clouds, weeding the garden, reading, meditating, or just plain spacing out. Even if you have to set a timer to remind yourself to do it or encourage you to do it longer than 2 ½ minutes. It’s important to have time to process all the changes happening all at once right now. To absorb. To breathe. To. Just. Be.