Can you believe we’re coming up on a year of this “new normal” that still doesn’t feel quite normal at all? Sure, we’ve learned a lot – about coronavirus, vaccines, remote learning, staying in touch without being together, our families, and certainly ourselves. We’ve mastered a lot, we’ve adapted, we’ve maybe even started to see a light at the end of a pandemic tunnel. But geez, I’m getting tired of still being this freakin’ tired.
On some level, I guess I’ve been tired for decades. And throughout quarantine and all the “stay-at-home” orders, I was exhausted. But STILL? How about you?
I’m the kind of tired where, by the end of the day, just when I finally have the chance to start chipping away at my mile-long to-do list — the one that includes catching up on texts with friends and school emails and watching the news and everything else, I just can’t do anything but curl up and fall asleep.
Do you know what I mean? The kind of tired where you have the internal debate in your head about whether you can skip washing your face and brushing your teeth for one night — I mean, your kids openly argue about brushing — at least you have the control to keep it silent in your head. (Note, from experience: You’ll always feel better if you brush your teeth).
The kind of tired where you’re actually kind of annoyed with yourself because you know you can handle this just like you handle everything. You used to work even longer hours and have a long commute, you survived the newborn stages and toddler years. You’ve had loved ones with health stuff to deal with. You are not weak. You are on top of it all and you handle things because you have to. So why are you so tired now, when you’ve been home so much more than usual, running fewer errands in person, not driving to work?
The kind of tired where you finally realize THIS. IS. DIFFERENT. This is big. This is weighing on hearts and health and minds. And it has been for a LONG. TIME.
So, how am I coping? I’m cutting myself some slack, and I recommend you do so as well. There are a lot of big emotions that result from a global pandemic (yeah, I said that with conviction as if I’ve been through this before), and what I’m finding is that, as you can expect, all of them combined make me TIRED. Are you going through this, too?
Is it actually possible to feel lonely when you’ve been quarantined at home in a house full of your family, with no personal space and not a minute alone, for almost a year? Yes. I miss going out with friends. Sure, I see them from across the street, or on Zoom calls, or at least over the summer we were able to hang out outside. . But I miss being with them routinely. And more than I knew I would, I really miss greeting them or saying goodbye with a hug.
Protecting your family, protecting yourself. Stocking up on supplies and food in a reasonable manner in case there’s another lockdown. Washing hands. Disinfecting surfaces. Working from home. Working from home WHILE making sure your kids are engaging in their remote learning , or actually teaching them yourself. Take that all in for a minute. It’s stressful, and exhausting. A global pandemic. Misinformation. Conflicting advice. Wanting so badly to get back to normal but also knowing you’re not quite ready for that. Yeah, it’s exhausting.
How many times today did you say “I can’t right now” to your kids or snap at them when they asked you their 1042nd question of the hour? Only to remember that their worlds have also been turned upside down, that they’re also missing their friends, they’re probably bored, they’re coping in quarantine, too. They’ve gone through youth sports shutdowns, reopenings, and shutdowns again. The reason they seem to need you constantly right now is because they NEED you. They need your presence, your reassurance, your answers, and your actions and words to help bring some sense of normalcy. But no matter how badly you want to be supportive through all of that, you’re juggling like you’ve never juggled before — all that stress, and loneliness, and work, and school, and wondering where the world is heading and when, if ever, things will get back to the old normal instead of the new normal.
Nope, not the same as stress. The way I see it (note, I didn’t look up and validate real definitions), feeling super-overwhelmed and trying to manage and master it all at a time when that may be virtually impossible is stressful. But the worrying about things you can only partly control can drive you to a very anxious state. Did my kids stand too close to the kids down the street? Did I wash my hands enough after touching grocery bags? Was my my kid next to the one who tested positive in class and the reason that class is back on quarantine? What if I send my kids to an event when everything opens back up, and someone gets sick? Am I over-reacting to all of this? Maybe I should overthink it a bit. Or maybe I should avoid the overthinking and just follow my gut and make the best informed choices I can. Am I the only one still thinking about this at all? Regardless, it’s exhausting.
People are sick. People are dying. Loved ones miss each other. Doctors and nurses are putting themselves at risk. STILL. It’s generally just different right now. Two good friends of mine said this week, “I just had a really rough day. This is hard.” People are going through stuff. And everyone handles it and expresses it differently.
Well, this certainly has been uplifting so far, right? But seriously, no wonder we’re tired, right?
What can we do about it to get ourselves through “these unprecedented times”?
- Are your mornings less crazy since everyone is staying home? Don’t set the alarm. Sleep a little later. I’ve started to see 6am on my clock vs. the olden days when I was up by 5 to get myself ready and get everyone out of the house on time.
- Move. I wake up every day thinking it will be a great day to exercise. Then I make excuses. But the days when I actually do get up and MOVE — whether it’s a home workout or an online fitness class or a walk around the block, I feel so much better and full of energy.
- Balance your day with chocolate. Hey, it’s totally justifiable if you also are getting up and moving. Endorphins. And yumminess.
- Find ways to help. Shifting my energy from worrying and overthinking to positively impacting others at this time has been great for my family and me.
- Stay connected. Set up that zoom call. Send mail. Get on social media. Wave to neighbors. Do a socially distant visit with someone.
- Stay informed. But don’t overdose on news. I’ve been making sure I’m up-to-date, but I haven’t been listening to every story, every development in medical research, every spike in Covid-19 cases. I’m not ignoring reality, but rather making it a bearable reality to live through for my family.
- Let yourself go through it. If you’re in a car parade and the tears start flowing, that’s ok. If you take an extra-long shower and breathe in the scent of the body wash as a fleeting moment of relaxation, enjoy it. Whatever it takes to get you through.
- Remember the KIDS! Give hugs to the ones who need hugs, play with the ones who want to play, answer their questions, reassure them.
- Remember this will end. It may last longer than we had hoped or expected (just like this blog post), but this situation won’t last forever. Make plans to look forward to. And in the meantime, grab little slices of normalcy where you can.
What are you feeling, and how are you coping?