Needless to say, life as we know it is forever changed. Life before the pandemic looked very different than it does now. Whether you’re single, married, kids, empty nester, black, white, red, purple, young, old, male, or female, we’re all experiencing the same thing. While it’s important to embrace the wonderful diversities in this world, lets for a moment embrace the one thing we ALL have in common right now. We are all in this together. Our individual circumstances may vary, but there isn’t one person that hasn’t been affected by the pandemic.
That being said, the impact on our mental health is profound. In our own household, we experience the rollercoaster Rona, daily. As a stay at home mom, the company I keep includes one 5 year old virtual learner, 2 1/2 year old currently experiencing the terrible 2’s, a newborn AND a husband who works from home. Yes, it’s overwhelming somedays, but I remain grateful. We have each other, I am able to stay at home with our kids, we have our health and we’re fortunate to put food on our table each and every day.
I can count on my right hand the number of times we’ve left the house since February (when our son was born, getting gas, and vaccination appointments), so to say we’re living a version of Groundhog’s Day is pretty accurate most days.
Some might think the depths and lengths we’ve taken to be safe are crazy, but we chose to take the threat of a global health crisis very seriously from the beginning. I keep thinking of the Game of Thrones reference when I think about the months to come. Winter is coming, and with that those winter blues are bound to take a greater hold this year – so without further ado, I give you some ways to help you deal with the Corona Blues!
10 Ways to Deal with the Corona Blues
1. Get out in nature: Go outside and take in all of the beauty this natural world has to offer. Fall is a perfect time to do this, especially in Wisconsin. Peak colors are right around the corner, which I expect to be breathtaking. Pay particular attention to the way the sunlight hits the leaves. And then feel the sun on your face, and be one with Mother Earth.
2. Get moving: I’ve always been a runner, but during the pandemic, I’ve increased my mileage because it’s such a good outlet for me. The more I sweat, the better I feel. If running isn’t your jam, go for a walk, do yoga, or have a family dance party. Spontaneous dance sessions have become quite popular in our household. There’s nothing better than rocking out to Born This Way with our two daughters and baby boy in the jumper. Try it, and let loose! Go fly a kite. Trust me, you will awaken your inner child. Last weekend, we had so much fun with our rainbow runner in the backyard!
3. Start a new house project: We have saved quite a bit of money by not going on family trips, or spending money on little luxuries, so we’re putting in a pool and a 3 season porch/office. My husband will be working from home indefinitely, and as much as we love seeing him more, he needs to be able to hear himself speak above the constant chaos. As understanding as the top execs are, they don’t need to hear about dirty diapers, and Disney ballads screamed at the top of two little girls’ lungs.
4. Good deeds: donate to a local charity, or food pantry. We created what we called, “neighbor box.” Each week we make something for our neighbors (i.e. cookies, smoked pulled pork, drawings from our kiddos), drop it off on their porch, and they return the favor in that same box. There is great satisfaction in making someone smile. Happy face = happy heart.
5. Meditate: I have a hard time sitting still, but I feel everyone can benefit from taking a moment to calm your body. Focus on your breathing. Do it with me now, deep breath…..in……out…..and AGAIN. My husband swears by personal contemplation and reflection daily, and without it, he notices a difference.
6. Keep the faith: Again, this can take on many different forms depending on your personal preference. There is so much hope and light in this mighty force whether you’re religious, spiritual, or both. Find your inner peace, hold on and trust everything will be okay even if things are not okay at the moment.
7. New norms: Think of something you did before the pandemic that you enjoyed. Try doing it now and adapting to our current situation. It’s important to add some normalcy back in, even if it looks and feels completely different. We had a strong hesitancy to go to the pumpkin patch this year because of potential crowds and possible inability to control social distancing, but I did my research, and found Madison is so ready and prepared to welcome its people back. Appleberry Farm had a reservation system on their website to respect safety concerns, so families could still pick out pumpkins and feel comfortable doing so. Yes, we all had our masks on, but it was so wonderful to capture the moment when our kiddos saw the field full of pumpkins! It’s these beautiful moments that carry us forward.
8. Continue your education journey: This can mean different things to different people. Add another degree behind your name, take a cooking class, or learn a new language. For me, this means trying to read more books, and making time for my favorite podcasts. I highly recommend, “The Michelle Obama Podcast.” She really digs deep on a variety of topics, and her sage words really resonate. I feel like I’ve been living by her infamous mantra, “when they go low, we go high.” There is such a sense of solace that comes with that, if you allow it to happen.
9. Create a gratitude journal: Instead of focusing on all of the tough stuff we all have endured the last several months, think about all of the things you’re grateful for. It’s easy to go down the rabbit hole with all that is happening right now, but I implore you to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and it might help put things into perspective. I have an autoimmune disease, which has brought about new and uncertain anxieties and fears I’d never thought I’d have to face. I learned at a young age to not take life for granted, so today I’m thankful I have remained in remission from my Crohn’s disease for 13 months and counting. This is the biggest blessing, especially during a global pandemic.
10. Let yourself cry: Feel all the feels and let it out. Self expression is incredibly therapeutic, so whatever that means to you, dive in.
Everything on this list are all things we did prior to the pandemic, but I feel we made excuses not to engage in them as often, or our priorities were a bit out of order. COVID-19 will go down as one of, if not the most horrific and historic tragedies on the planet. We can help curb the devastation with staying at home as much as possible, and wear masks, but we can also try and work through our feelings we’re all experiencing. If you find you’re having a hard time coping at any time, please let someone know and get the help you need. Getting help is the hardest, but first step in your healing journey. There are several resources available to you online. NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is a wonderful place to start if you need support. Be well, be kind and be YOU.
Now, I leave you with the 5 W’s of Life
- Who you are is what makes you special. Do not change for anyone
- What lies ahead will always be a. mystery. Do not be afraid to explore.
- When life pushes you over. You push back harder.
- Where there are choices to make, make the one you won’t regret.
- Why things happen will never be certain. Take it in stride and move forward.