You don’t need more superfluous dialogue about coronavirus from me, so this blog is focused on how the current situation has impacted my mental health and given me unexpected opportunities for mindfulness.
1. Feeling empathy for everyone in a transactional job. Jobs like hair stylists, yoga teachers, anything related to travel (hotels, airlines, etc.), anyone providing childcare… everyone is feeling the pain. My husband and I are both in very fortunate situations where our work can be done from home and our income is steady. This is not lost on me.
2. Necessity is the mother of invention. I am amazed to see the creativity from others finding alternative ways to create online experiences for what would otherwise be done in-person. Yoga Bliss (Akron & Green) has posted classes using Facebook Live, school teachers are reading to their classes through online posts, the library has turned reading time to an online experience, and my eldest’s Sunday School was conducted through a Zoom call last week.
3. Feeling for families with kids younger than mine. My kids are 8, 5 and 5 years old right now — they can at least get themselves snacks and entertain themselves for decent chunks of time with TV or make-believe games together. I appreciate this because it would be tough managing toddlers in the ever-in-danger phase of finding all the ways they can hurt or maim themselves with household objects.
4. Appreciate how my kids really need me and remember this will not always be the case. As much as I like all the ages of my kids, I still have moments where I feel resentful of just how much my kids still need me right now. This is really emphasized when both my husband and I are on work-related phone calls and the twins have a meltdown complete with sobs and nonsensical screaming. Telling them through gritted teeth to “STOP IT” doesn’t help at all, yet it’s what I resort to. Then, once everything has settled down, I realize, this will not always be the case. Yes, this is painful now, but I will feel differently when they are sullen and quiet teenagers who seemingly don’t “need” me for anything.
5. Getting comfortable with the unknown. We have no idea what to expect on a weekly basis, except we’re most likely not going “back to normal.”
6. Letting go of perfection and academic prowess. With lots of rumors about school being closed for the rest of this academic year, I am forced to find a new routine now with the likelihood of this being our “new normal.” Besides, I am not a teacher and homeschooling while working from home was never on my — or my husband’s — radar. We’re all doing the best we can with the resources available. I must let go of all the illusions I had about what this school year would look like. Last night, I told my girls they may not see their teachers again this school year, and the next time they ride the bus, big sister will go to a different school. Whoa.
7. Appreciate all the helpers/workers. I work in a hospital setting, but I am not a frontline healthcare worker. I know my patient-facing colleagues are working their butts off to make sure we’re all safe, with new orders and guidelines coming out faster than we can imagine. Additionally, my kids’ teachers and school administration are working hard to provide the best distance learning experience. Moreover, schools are working to provide meals to kids who rely on school meals for breakfast and lunch. Our community helpers care so much. Their actions speak louder than words, and words cannot express how grateful I am for their help and support.
8. Carving out time for self-care. I know myself well enough to say I need some outside time to keep my sanity. This means I journal like a fiend (writing has clearly helped me process a lot of difficult life situations). Yoga with Adriene online and meditation are two more self-care tools I use to hone my resilience. Reading is a great way to escape and I’ve been enjoying some of my favorite Buddhist authors, like Thich Nhat Hanh and Pema Chödrön.
9. Thankful for being in this together. People have a beautiful way of connecting when we’re all facing the same hardship. My husband and I repeatedly have said, “I couldn’t do this with anyone else but you.” (Coronavirus = marriage strengthener?) Similarly, I couldn’t do this without my amazing community and village, near and far. I am quite good at staying connected with my long-distance friends and now we’re just checking in more frequently to commiserate and share any tips/tricks we’ve picked up. More than anything, I look forward to hearing a familiar and loving voice and remember our bonds are stronger than social distancing.