After about a year of living in a pandemic, it is exhausting to think about all the ways we’ve adapted and changed our lives. Even as we can return to some of what feels normal, the mindset of impending upheaval lingers. That worry and drive to be prepared might never leave.
Honestly, the hardest part of this is the fact that we don’t know what lies ahead. Kids ask questions we have no answers to. Can we go to school without masks next year? Can we go on vacation again? What if we get sick? Why did this happen? I have heard some version of all of these. Sometimes I can cobble together an answer that satisfied their curiosity and quelled their fears, but mostly it makes fear swell in a knot in the pit of my stomach.
This life is draining. All the unknown, all the planning and then changing those plans, all the dishes. So many more dishes when everyone is home so often. I have also found myself cleaning more. Watching our friends and family struggle alongside of us and worrying for our loved ones. Watching the news and worrying some more. There is a lot more worrying in this new life. One thing I have been doing less of is taking time for myself. Less time intentionally spent as a couple. Less time spent with my friends.
Put your oxygen mask on before you help someone else with their mask. We’ve all heard it, but in this moment of perpetual exhaustion and unknown, it is more important advice than we realize. Take a deep breath. Go to bed early instead of watching the news. Wake up half an hour early and drink coffee while watching the sunrise. Hide in the pantry and eat chocolate. Take the long way home so your toddler falls asleep and read a magazine or book in your driveway. For myself, I’ve discovered an at home yoga practice by following a YouTube channel that has playlists of videos by length. Some days I have a half an hour to gift myself, and some days it is only five minutes. It has become my favorite part of the day.
Coordinating time with other people takes a little more work. Most days, it is tempting to fall into a lump on the couch at the end of the day. The siren song of our phones can call us away from each other. It is so important to work to connect. This pandemic has shown us that we need social interaction. We need the balm of that shared experience and the empathy it brings. We need our village.