A friend reached out for advice.
Advice on how you can reach your new normal mentally. How you can accept reality and find peace. At first, I laughed. I would NOT be the one to give this advice. Me? Peace? Please.
Have you met me? But…yet she pressed.
I guess I am ahead of many of you. Not claiming I have cracked the code on coping in hard situations, but I recognize that not everyone has had the experience where your life turns upside down in a span of 24hrs. The virus may be your first era-defining moment. I can imagine that must be hard. Especially for my friends who pride themselves on their planning. You know… planning every after school activity, pick-up/drop off schedule, every vacation months in advance. They have that soccer schedule pinned proudly to the door. They control it all. They are in charge.
But they’re not.
It may be your first time feeling like that too. First time feeling like a small blip on the wheel of chaos. Learning that tomorrow is not promised even if there is a soccer meet scheduled. Even if it is written right there on your family calendar in sharpie. GONE.
This may be new turf for you.
It was for me when I had my first era-defining moment. I thrived in structure and order. I never even left the structure and safety of school. I left one imposed schedule of classes as a student to go and create them for others as a teacher. Blocks in schedules felt safe. I knew where I was, where I am, and where I am going. I had it all laid out in front of me. No surprises. Nope. I was the captain of this ship.
But that is not how I live anymore nor you. That may be VERY unsettling. But I will add that your era defining moment is a shared one. Take comfort that go with the world, not alone.
So I will share my coping strategies as requested. This is not Dr. Recommended.
- Write. I write to remember. I write down what happened so I can feel like I controlled the past. It works as evidence for me. I did that. You don’t need to publish it. But writing REALLY helps.
- Take pictures of the hard times (thank you, Jenny, for recommending that). When you scroll in your photos you see bright happy moments, but let’s be clear…that is not the reality. Capture that to allow yourself a balanced perspective on the past to make real expectations to the future
- Limit social media. Nothing pisses me off more than all these people talking about how nice this family time has been. A very privileged thing to say. Yes, the 1% of the world will have that story, but the rest of the 99% are having a very different reality. So all these photos put me a bit over the edge. I stay away as much as possible. And trust me I’m on month 11. There is NOTHING fun about 11 months of isolation.
- Pick up the phone and call a friend. DO IT. Even if you hate the phone.
- Work. If you can work, do work for OTHERS. Do something to help society at large. Through that process, you will meet awe-inspiring people that will remind you that the world is capable of so much. It will also take your mental energy off your own situation.
- Limit the news to every other day (or every 3 days if you can). Trust me, nothing changes except your anxiety.
- Listen to music (a lot).
- Smoke/ chew/ digest weed. If me… a lot of it. It is my retreat from thoughts, every day at 5 pm. Sorry- this is the truth. It helps me sleep too. You asked. I answered.
- Meditate. I am terrible at this but adding it because the research is so clear.
- Medicate. If you are finding each day hard to get through and find yourself crying in your closet (or at least that was my spot), get a consult with your doctor. This is nothing to be ashamed of. Medications exist to help.
- Forgiveness. You may be letting your child on more screens than ever. There were a good two months last summer where Benno’s entire world was online. Jacob is confined to a bed for hours, screens SAVE us. SO BE IT. Or you may be struggling with distant learning. LET IT GO! You aren’t the only one. LET IT GO.
Hope this is helpful.