Affirming every second social media post, I know this has not been so kind to us. The crippling pandemic came out of nowhere and caught all of us unprepared. A thousand different emotions, hitherto unknown to us, have since manifested and made a permanent place deep into our hearts, digging burrows with their teeth seeped in hopelessness. September is here, proving once again that time is a mystery beyond any other. I am lost in the search for this year, where did it go? How did I end up here? Is this the end? How much more of this slow-moving motion picture can I take?
Working from home, all schools closed, the borders sealed, and most of us locked down in our homes- we have been hunkered down, I know, and to be honest I sometimes feel as if I will explode from within.
Interacting with my colleagues, my friends and others around me, I have come to realise that everybody has reacted to the dire situation at hand differently. People have been feeling burnt out and tired and even a bit anxious. It is a pervasive feeling, especially since everything feels out of control.
I had difficulties in processing it too. Finding my centre in this situation was difficult, but crucial as well, and so I sat with my husband and our kids, and we listed our priorities. This exercise helped us to find a way to deal with the pandemic together. It lifted some fog to make everything just a little bit clearer. What we found was a way to navigate around the new world, and so I thought maybe I could help you out as well.
1. Identify your feelings
Okay, so you’re feeling many things. It is overwhelming, I understand. Breathe, and try to identify an emotion amongst the chaos. Are you angry? Upset? In denial?
I have been furious on days of not being able to leave my house. And some days, contrary to the anger, I didn’t feel like getting out of my bed. Now that I recall, I cannot say for sure which days were more challenging than the other. However, I know that asking myself how I am feeling and staying in touch with my feelings helped me get over the general anger and anxiety that I felt. It helps to create a framework to understand my emotions and identify what helps me feel better.
2. Social distance but don’t isolate yourself
My biggest mistake early on was that I didn’t realise when my efforts to distance myself socially turned into a self-isolation. I now frequently stay in touch with my distant family and all my friends.
We are lucky to have all the technology at our disposal to deal with the physical absence of loved ones and fill the gaps in our lives with the people who matter the most. I am connecting with friends whom I last met either in college or school. I have aged better in the last few months than I did in the early stages of the pandemic. That is, in a way, a silver lining.
3. Exercise, meditate – your mind and body
A good work out gives you the needed serotonin and a good adrenaline rush – the only chemicals I care about – just kidding. I exercise and meditate every day now, regardless of how the weather is – I go for a run and absorb nature. It is beautiful. I also meditate to calm my nerves, and I know it has helped me abundantly.
4. Get creative
And why not? I learnt how to use watercolours, and today I understand them a lot better. I learnt how to bake as well. I baked my daughter’s birthday cake, and she loved it so much. All my despair vanished, and my body was brimming with dopamine. It countered my fatigue. So, I bake delicious cookies every alternate day with my children. I have reconnected with myself and my family better now.
5. Take care of yourself and everyone else around you
This pandemic has turned me into a kinder person. I do concentrate on my needs, but now it is never over someone else’s. I have learnt to take care of others as much as I do for myself. I check in on my neighbours and ensure they have everything they need. I am a happier person today than I was at the start of the year. But this could not have been possible without the lovely people around me.
And you all have me, like I know I have you. Let’s fight this pandemic together. I am sending out love and prayers.