Happy Monday, friends! It feels kind of silly in the midst of all the crazy to say “happy,” but I’ve been doing my best to find the good in all the crazy lately. I took the time on Friday to share some of our lessons in gratitude lately, but today I felt compelled, instead, to write a little more about my thoughts on social distancing and mental health. In a time like this, I think it’s so important for those (like myself) who struggle with depression and anxiety to address the mental aspect of the coronavirus pandemic because, truly, I think the affects of social distancing, isolation, and quarantine play a huge role.
We’ve been “lucky” here in Washington thus far. Though one of the first-hit states – and one of the hardest hit thus far, at that – we are not yet a “shelter in place” state. Instead, we’re still hard at work social distancing. Restaurants and gathering places are closed. Playgrounds and schools are closed. Yet, our trails remain open, and we were blessed all last week with gorgeous spring weather. So, all things considered, we’ve been pretty lucky. That isn’t to say, however that social distancing and mental health don’t start to take their toll on us.
It feels like we’re constantly at an intersection somewhere between hope and hopelessness. The believer in me feels down in my core that when this turns around, things will rebound. Travel will resume, the proverbial skies will clear, and we will come through this stronger and wiser. The exhausted side of me, like many however, switched from a general sense of stress around coronavirus and the subsequent social distancing, quarantines, and isolation, into something darker – anxiety around everything. While I may not personally fear the virus, I fear that we could carry it and pass it on. I fear that people might not think we’re taking it seriously enough. I fear that others aren’t taking it seriously enough. I fear a lot of things, truthfully, and that anxiety is near-constant.
Most of all though, I fear the loss of our normal like many others, I’m sure.
I think that, for many of us, this time is uncertain, and it’s okay to constantly feel like you’re at a crossroads between happy, healthy, anxious, stressed, blessed, wear, angry, and grateful. That’s grief. That, in a nutshell, is the grief process playing out in real time, and I think many of us are feeling it as individuals. And that’s okay. But you know what’s not okay? Not honoring the process.
The way to navigate the grief process is to go through it. Journey it. Feel it. Embrace it. Let it wash over you in waves. It is okay not to be okay during this time. You do not have to explain yourself, and you don’t need to ask for forgiveness. It’s okay to turn off the news. It’s okay to cry and to be angry, and stressed, and exhausted, and happy, and all the emotions all at once. It’s okay. This, for now at least, is our reality and our new normal, and the effects of coronavirus go beyond what we can physically see.
For now, the best things we can do for our little family is force ourselves to get outside. Get on the trails alone. Breathe in the fresh air and give thanks for the food on our table. We stay sane, and we stay healthy, doing our part to minimize the risk. Beyond that, the best thing I can do for myself is to turn off the news and the notifications, not because I want to bury my head in the sand, but because I want to preserve my mental health, knowing that I’m doing my part in my corner of the world the best I can. That is all I can do, and that’s okay.
I hope wherever you are that you, too, are honoring the process and effects of social distancing and mental health because they’re very real.
And it’s okay.