I was thinking this week that I have heard a lot online and in the transcription work I do that people are having a hard time working from home.
My husband and I were chatting and realized that this part for us is easy. We both work at home (he as an artist, me as a writer/transcriptionist), so our lives haven’t really changed all that much because of coronavirus.
For us, we get up, work out, get breakfast and begin our workday. Some days are more successful than others, and what has been the biggest change for me is that I find myself easily distracted by texts from loved ones, distracted by the news online, distracted by Facebook.
I can normally go a whole day without looking or posting on Facebook or other social media. Right now, I check it every half hour, obsessively scrolling for any bit of news.
Frankly, I am annoying myself.
But I can still work. I’m lucky. And if there isn’t a lot of work available, I can write. I can write a blog, I could even work on a short story or a new novel. But again, I find it hard to concentrate for very long. But this blog has been a bit of a salvation, a place where I can release my thoughts and hopefully engage with you, dear readers, in a way that is maybe helpful.
Lack of Control
This event is not something any of us expected to see in our time. It is bizarre. I am afraid to leave my house and be around people. I don’t want to get sick. I don’t want anyone I love to get sick. But it’s out of my control, and that’s the thing that makes me totally anxious.
Not having control makes us all feel unsteady and without roots. What’s more frustrating is that there is no real way to root down in a sustainable way. We have to just do our best to reach out and grasp at the things that keep us feeling all right.
Friends. Family. Funny meme’s. Movies. Books.
Whatever it is that distracts you from the news — because here’s the thing, watching too much news is going to make you feel worse. Stay informed, of course, but also step away from the 24-hour news cycle and watch or do something that makes YOU feel happy. Take a bath, listen to music. Dance around your house like a crazy person. Hug someone.
If you are alone, reach out to someone on the phone, use Facetime or Skype or Zoom or email or text, whatever you can.
Those are the things we can control.
We can control how we react to this disaster. We can decide to follow the recommendations of experts (NOT Trump) and social distance, stay home (if you can) and wash your hands.
We can control how we deal with our anxiety. We can call our therapist, our doctor, our mom or dad, whoever. We can tell someone that we’re feeling out of control and that we need help.
We control ourselves. We control our reaction.
Sure, it’s easy to type that, harder to do. We want to eat our feelings, or we want to lash out at people because we are anxious. We maybe aren’t sleeping or exercising because, what’s the point?
These are all choices. Make a choice, just one tiny choice today to do something for YOU. Whatever it is. Sit on your porch and get some sun. Have water. Exercise. Maybe you won’t feel 100%, but maybe you’ll feel a little better.
That’s all you have to do, make ONE choice for you. Then do it another time, and another, and then eventually we’ll be out of this and we’ll hopefully be better people for it.
Is It Grief?
I read an interesting article a friend posted yesterday from the Harvard Business Review that said, “If we can name it, we can mange it.” The “It” being the feelings we are all sorting through as we social distance and/or stay home.
The article goes on to say that one of the writers colleagues made the point that what she was feeling was grief.
I found that idea really interesting. Are we grieving for the life we had before Covid-19? Will the world be changed by this pandemic in some fundamental way? Will we be kinder, better people?
My pessimistic side says no. Maybe as things ease and we begin to go out again into the world like “normal” we might be different to one another. But we are also a country that forgets about kids in cages, kids being shot down in schools, I could go on and on.
We forget and we move on.
My optimistic side says, yes! We will be changed. We will be better! And that helps to ease some of the grief.
But is it grief?
In the HBR article, they reach out to David Kessler, “world’s foremost expert on grief” to get some ideas on how to deal with our feelings. They ask him if what we are feeling can be called grief. His response is world quoting in full:
Yes, and we’re feeling a number of different griefs. We feel the world has changed, and it has. We know this is temporary, but it doesn’t feel that way, and we realize things will be different. Just as going to the airport is forever different from how it was before 9/11, things will change and this is the point at which they changed. The loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll; the loss of connection. This is hitting us and we’re grieving. Collectively. We are not used to this kind of collective grief in the air.
I 100% agree with this. My husband and I went out today to do some errands and I noticed it right away. The quiet. While people aren’t so great at keeping away from each other, I did have a couple interactions that involved smiles and laughter. My husband laughed with someone. That was nice and normal. Otherwise, we avoided eye contact, we avoided each other (somewhat). It was weird, but normal.
Kessler also says that what we are feeling is something called “anticipatory grief.” That type of grief is where you are almost waiting for the bad stuff to happen, bad stuff we have no control over. That’s what really has resonated with me. The waiting for bad. The waiting for … something else to happen.
We Can Get Through This
I don’t want this to seem all doom and gloom, because it’s not. There is so much hope left in this world, and so much that’s funny and fun. We will get through this, we will survive as the song says, and a lot of us will be stronger because of this.
Be well dear friends. Stay safe. Reach out if you need someone to talk to. Remember to laugh.