Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A Solution Offered For Pandemic Fatigue

Author’s Note: I want to qualify my perspective on the Covid-19 pandemic out of respect for those who have suffered emotionally, financially, and/or physically from this cruel virus. I have suffered little so far compared to so many who have. I write this from the viewpoint of a retired person, yet still a striving, small business entrepreneur. My blog posts reflect life after a cross country move from Florida to Utah which, in itself, has presented its own set of difficult challenges and rewarding experiences, followed very close behind by this awful pandemic. 

In The Beginning

Before we became aware of the horrendous details of Covid-19 and the impending longevity of it, perhaps some of us welcomed more free time for self care, longer phone chats, focus on hobbies, delayed home maintenance, and learning to Zoom. It was a break from routine, commitments, and responsibilities. Remember “snow days” when school was cancelled? What a gift those seemed to be! That said, after eight months, what started as a brief respite has become a health nightmare, both physically and mentally. For some of us, free time has become a curse and a waiting game.

What Phase Are We In?

Each aspect of daily life that revolves around mind, body, and spirit has been impacted by the expanding dimensions of the Covid-19 pandemic. By now, you’re definitely feeling it's impact on you. Maybe you know people who have started pursuing creative outlets like gardening, artwork, and cooking. Some have become an integral part of their living room sofa, paralyzed by too much time on their hands and little-to-no structure.

Personally?...To Sum It Up →My mind has become overwhelmed by the unknown.

→My body has put on weight and, oh lord my hair has taken a beating... Well, you know why.

→Spiritually?.. I have been drifting in and out of numbness.  

What Is Our Future? While we await a miracle, nagging questions have arisen for which no one has answers.

  1. Is the vaccine going to work and be safe? Where do we stand in the hierarchy to receive it?

  2. What does “the new normal” mean?

  3. How do we move forward from here during this extended pandemic without signs of a clean and clear end to it?

  4. How will the economy and related job losses turn around?

  5. How will first responders recover? Will they be rewarded for their sacrifices?

Numbers 2 and 3 have become my main focus because they are the only ones I have any say about.

  • What does the “new normal” mean for me?

  • Am I going to spend my remaining years in grief because of it?

  • How do I want to live the rest of my life despite the short term and long term impacts of this pandemic?

I don’t have answers to all of these questions but thinking about them has raised a certainty in me. I’m going to seek and find joy in as many aspects of my life as often as possible.

Pandemic Life

Everyone has been coping differently but we probably have shared lots of similar experiences. Lucky lucky me, I don’t live alone and I thank my lucky stars that I have a life partner I get along with. My husband and I have been fortunate that sheltering in place and a healthy lifestyle that includes walks and home cooking have helped to keep us free from medical emergencies. "Knock on wood!" Lord help us if we get a non-virus related emergency. Will the ER’s have time or space for us?

As I’ve mentioned in my last pandemic-related post, we don’t shop in brick and mortar. We’ve totally committed to online shopping and curbside pickup when available. I sure miss cruising the thrift shops! Since we’ve been living in isolation, my world is pretty much contained to the space within the four walls we rent.

How Have I Started To Move Forward?

Recently, I have kept a more balanced sleep cycle to maintain good mental health (it works!), and I’ve focused more on eating healthy since, currently, I have had little motivation to exercise. I have rationalized that “at least I’m eating well”. If it weren’t for a weekly hike with my husband I would have been challenged to leave the house on my own. Once a yoga fanatic, my body has rejected anything but walking. I’ve had sporadic bouts of dancing to Nia routines on Youtube but they too have faded in and out. I’d rather be playing pickleball but I’m not willing to expose myself. I’ve tried to talk myself into “going into training” so that when “all this” lifts I’ll be fit enough to play, but alas… no dice! At least not yet.

Spiritually, I have drifted in and out of Zoom groups gaining whatever inspiration my soul needs to maintain trust that “the Universe is folding as it should”. As I struggle to remain optimistic, I am still trying to believe that there are blessings in every situation. I have yet to bump into many of those lately, except, of course, our continued good health which counts for everything... so I take that back! So basically, my spirituality has somewhat numbed itself with only occasional urgent prayers of “please make it stop”.

Mentally, I am an expert at “mind games” so it has taken most of my focus. I have kept it busy planning and building my artistic jewelry business for whatever the future holds post-pandemic. I’ve been devoting time to studying marketing practices, designing eclectic jewelry pieces, and connecting online with fellow entrepreneurs while we all "wait it out". I focus on planning healthy meals and making shopping lists. Yawn… Cleaning house? I’ve developed a mental block for that. After all, no one is coming to visit and creativity has been much more gratifying to me! I am seeking joy and not doing whatever doesn’t make me happy.

What Are Other People Doing?

The internet is filled with inspiring projects that people have taken on during this period of isolation and the remarkable results that followed.. In October 2020, The Concord Monitor published an article that referred to a periodical Clinical Neuropsychiatry Journal of Treatment Evaluation that addressed “Stress and Coping in the Time of COVID-19: Pathways to Resilience and Recovery”. The Concord’s reporting gave me hope that I too might find my way into new territory. According to their piece, from painting rocks, to culinary adventures, and even into extensive nature hikes, many have been moved to reach out and impact others’ lives and, more often than not, end up enriching their own. The psychological benefits of taking action were all pleasantly surprising to me. Those noted benefits motivated me to keep looking for my silver lining.

Light Bulb Flashing! Bells Ringing!

I am a people person, an organizer, a connector of people. Our cross country move and the pandemic isolation have kept me separated from old friends and from meeting new ones and that has painfully cramped my style. It took time for me to figure out how I could satisfy that urge within my personality. Nothing felt right, and then one day it hit me. Obsessed with questions 2 and 3 above, I formed a support group of ladies called Movin' It who wanted to join me in taking steps to move forward NOW instead of waiting for the virus to “go away”. During the process of getting us all together, I had to get out my rusty organizing skills and sharpen them to make it happen, and I’m so glad that I did.

Over the past several months, I have had such pleasant surprises, accomplished some pretty basic goals that I could not seem to get started, and I’ve made a great new friend! Who could have guessed that would happen during this pandemic? This accomplishment has helped me realize that I can shape my experiences, at least to some extent, during this pandemic.

And so can you. 

My Offer To You

I know I’m not alone in wanting to move on from pandemic life. As friends have shared with me their struggles adapting to sheltering in place, I know that many folks I have never met are battling pandemic fatigue too. Unfortunately, this had led many to reunite prematurely with inadequate protection even while wearing masks. Those gatherings have likely contributed to the virus’ voracious spread. The best chance of avoiding infection means sheltering in place. That can be threatened by allowing others into your space. Even with testing, no one can be 100% sure they don’t carry the virus.

So here’s my offer to those suffering from pandemic fatigue, those who are tempted to let down their guard, rejoin group activities, and ignore the current reality of the Covid-19 virus. Are you interested in a life line? This may not seem like a revolutionary idea but how much can it hurt to consider forming your own group like I did?

Here are just a few helpful facts to help you decide:

  • You don’t have to be the motivator to form a group. Your members will motivate each other.

  • This is not a life long commitment on your part. If it doesn’t come together, at least you tried.

  • If it does come together, hang on for the ride and find some joy!

  • You have nothing to lose and much to gain, and you’ll be helping others get off the couch.

If you’re ready to get started, download my suggestions you can use to form a successful group on Zoom. Just download Forming A Support Group to help you form your Zoom group.

Tina's Sedona © All Rights Reserved

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