Stray Thoughts from Isolation

coping with pandemicNormally, I have a more focused, devotional or Bible study type of post on Mondays. Today I just want to share some “stray thoughts” about coping during this pandemic.

When we were first told to stay home to avoid spreading the coronavirus, many people felt that at least they’d have time to get things done around the house—home repairs, decorating, writing, or whatever.

How often I have wished for a cleared schedule in order to get more done. But, somehow, I wasn’t getting much done besides the bare everyday tasks.

Over the weeks I’ve seen people mention a strange lethargy, malaise, ennui, brain fog. Many of us are having trouble getting our minds in gear for long or for anything deep.

I think this state of mind is probably due to several things. Most of us have never lived through anything like this current pandemic. When I first heard of it, I had to battle panic regularly, especially since my husband and I are in at-risk groups. I was concerned about the virus itself, finding supplies, the economy in general, my husband’s and children’s jobs, and so much more. God ministered to me through His Word, and I remembered I needed to feed my soul truth. God is the same, and He has promised to be with us and meet our needs. I listen to uplifting music filled with truth. I remind myself, too, that if I worry and fret, I’m wasting that energy if nothing happens and doubling my misery if it does.

Then there was just a general unease due to normal routines being disrupted, sorrow over disappointments and canceled plans. All of those concerns above still pop up, but now there’s a weary wondering how long this will last.

At first it helped to remind myself that all of this isn’t as bad as it could be, except for those who have the virus, have loved ones with it, or have lost weeks of work and pay. For too many, this virus and its effects have been devastating. My heart goes out to those who have been battling the virus firsthand.

But for many of us, I told myself, this is not as bad as the Spanish flu epidemic, the black plague, the Depression, the Jews packed like sardines in small spaces hiding during WWII. We have safe places to stay and plenty of means to keep busy and entertain ourselves. It does help to focus on the positives even as we acknowledge the negatives and to shift perspective, as in safe at home rather than stuck at home.

But just because a problem isn’t as big as others doesn’t mean it’s not still a problem.

I’ve had a broken little toe before. Sure, it wasn’t as bad as a crushed ankle or amputation. But it still hurt severely and needed time and care to recover from.

So, whatever amount of strain or unease we’re going through, it still takes a toll. I think some part of our brains are still taken up with the pandemic and all its concerns even when we’re not actively thinking about them.

It’s okay to lament, to say it hurts. Ecclesiastes 3 talks about “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.” The psalms are full of people pouring out their hearts to God during trouble, then reminding themselves of God’s love and character. Most of them come to a place of peace even though the circumstances have not yet changed.

In our childbirth class for our first pregnancy, the instructor had a couple from a previous class who had their baby come back and tell of their experience. The new mother said said if she began to think during labor, “What if I have to do this for many more hours? Or days,” she would feel defeated and tired. But if she focused on just one contraction at a time, she had the energy and strength to get through it. That has stuck with me ever since. If we focus on just riding out one wave at a time, getting through just this day or this moment, eventually we’ll be done.

I still feel better if I accomplish something useful rather than fall into YouTube rabbit holes (though I’ve done a bit of that). I relax in the evenings, but I try to get needed things done during the work day. So sometimes I’ve pushed through that moving-through-molasses feeling even when I don’t feel like it, even if I don’t get as much done as usual. I’ve thought of a few “mindless” tasks I’d love to get to, like cleaning out some files, pulling out clothes I want to give away, etc. I’m thankful for all sorts of offerings online, from free courses to museum tours to operas, to various artists giving free mini-concerts or presentations online. I haven’t had as much time to engage in that kind of thing as I would like. But I’m glad they are available, and I hope to get to more of them.

And I think, for many of us, we have to remember our emotions may be up and down. The general anxiety is less for me than it was at first. I had acknowledged and processed the sadness of canceling my oldest son’s flight here and celebrating Easter and my grandson’s birthday virtually instead of in person. We’d had a good, if subdued, Easter day. But for some reason, that night I got suddenly weepy. I didn’t tell my husband, because I didn’t want to have to explain it when I couldn’t. I guess that undercurrent of emotion just needed a release. And that’s ok. The next day, I was fine. My little grandson had a similar experience. His family has made it a point to play outside a lot since they can’t go to his usual favorite places, and they’ve had many happy days. Then he had a couple of emotional ones. I think overall he’s doing okay.

It also helps not to compare. I have a friend who works full time from home yet gets all kinds of house projects done. I can admire her energy and zest without shaming myself for not doing the same.

So, for me, I’m trying to maintain balance. Keeping up with current news, but not so much that it keeps me stirred up. Acknowledging that my emotions are a little tender, but not giving way to panic. Giving myself grace if I am not accomplishing a much as I’d like to, but not becoming a total couch potato. Continuing to feed on His Word. Bringing concerns before the Lord for wisdom for the future. Reminding myself that He instructed us to pray for daily needs. Taking one day at a time. Waiting in hope.

How are you holding up? What things are helping you cope through this pandemic?

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul,
Tell His Story, Happy Now, InstaEncouragement, Recharge Wednesday,
Worth Beyond Rubies, Anchored Abode, Share a Link Wednesday,
Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Blogger Voices Network,
Faith on Fire)


33 thoughts on “Stray Thoughts from Isolation

  1. Love the phrase: “wait in hope.”
    And I appreciated your reminder to stay in the moment. In this moment, we can’t possibly endure all the feelings we will have if this pandemic lingers on, but we are not required to deal with future reactions today. Today’s feelings (troubles) are sufficient–or so I’ve read. :=)

  2. You’ve described me too, Barbara. I have ups and downs. I’m grateful for the comfort I have in staying home, yet still grieve a lot of things too. I keep thinking I’ll clean out a room or closet, but I haven’t even attempted to clean out a drawer yet. ha. I admire other people’s energy, too, to get things done (houses repainted, rooms remodeled!), but I’m trying not to shame myself for NOT doing any of those things.

    Ironically, I wrote today on “Is It Okay to Do Nothing?” lol. There are definitely times where I need to do my version of “nothing” – i.e. working jigsaw puzzles. 🙂 My brain just isn’t functioning at its best or most energetic. I’ve lowered my goals on things I can accomplish in a day and trying to be content if I do one or two main things a day.

    • I enjoyed your post, Lisa. We know that when we have something going on physically so that we’re not up to par, we don’t have the energy to do what we normally do. We forget that same thing happens emotionally and mentally.

  3. It’s good to know I am not alone in my funk, Barbara. I love the story about the childbirth class. I identify so much with that feeling. If I think about how many more days this will last, it becomes depressing, but if I just take one day, one step at a time, it is manageable.
    I think what I miss the most is the freedom I once took for granted. Just simple (I thought) freedoms like popping over to visit a friend, having my grandchildren stay overnight, or plan a vacation. My blues show up the most in a place where I usually go to drive the blues away – running. After a good week of running, I had another meltdown yesterday about a third of the way into my long run. I got over it and finished the run. One step at a time, right? It helps when I to say to myself “God is with me.” until the moment passes.

    • I know what you mean. I probably spend over 95% of my time at home anyway, but not being able to go out is still taking a toll. I’ve had some “distanced” visits with my grandson, but I miss his hugs and having meals together. I miss that freedom to just pick up and go when I want to. But one step at a time, and hopefully we’ll be able to do all those things again before too long.

  4. I have been home for 36 days and yesterday my dear hubby was going to pick up 3 piglets. Anytime he had to go someplace he was not asking me to go because of me having asthma related problems and we are 70 years old. So anyway there have been no cases in our particular area (they are all on the reservation). Where he was picking them up he did not have to go through any town (we live in the country). So I asked the Lord if it would be ok for me to go that That He would have DH ask me. Right up to the last minute he had not asked me, then just before he was about to leave he asked me. I got so excited that the Lord said yes. I told him about my prayer. So yesterday was such a blessing to get out, watch the blue sky with huge fluffy clouds in it that look like you could touch them. We live in the high mountain desert of AZ. Of course I did not get out of the truck and DH wore the masks I had made him. So we are still being cautious. God gives us these little blessing during times of trouble that do not mean very much to others, but mean so much to us.

  5. Great thoughts and I totally agree. I think I will personally look back on this time with some fondness for getting to spend so much time at home with my husband, and for having live take on a slower and more meaningful pace. 🙂

  6. I like your thoughts here a lot! Like the woman in the birth class, I’ve often thought in the midst of some hard thing — I am okay RIGHT THIS MOMENT. I’ll reevaluate that in 5 minutes, or in 2 minutes, but RIGHT NOW I am okay. Yes, I think at this point it’s the not knowing how long this could go on that is hard. When I hear of colleges considering no in-person classes for fall, etc., that gets me down. Then I return to my first thought. I like your ideas of worrying and fretting either being a waste or doubling our suffering. So true. So, I think I am pretty much right there with you! Thanks for gathering these thoughts.

    • I had not heard that about colleges. I wonder what other schools will do. A writer’s conference I was thinking about attending in May has rescheduled for November. I’m wondering if they will be able to have it then–we’ll see.

      At first I was thinking all this would just be two to three weeks. The possibility of it lasting into fall is not encouraging–but one step at a time!

    • I’m so thankful, too, for FaceTime to not only hear but see our loved ones. That article was helpful–thanks for sharing it. It helps to know these circumstances can make us a bit wobbly while we try to navigate through them.

  7. great thoughts. Although I’m busy working for 5 required hours a day for my job as special education preK teacher, I am NOT motivated much beyond that and I”m usually the clean the house in 1 day type of person. Now i’m lucky if I get dinner on the table. HA!! We’re utilizing doordash and grub hub a lot……just for something different.
    What’s helping me get through having hubby working in my living room from 7:30-5:30 except the weekends, is my daily Devotional Time in the Word. I’m still keeping to that routine along with working out because it’s so important to be in GOd’s Truth.

    I am also doing a lot more baking that I normally do. And I’m reading alot more blogs than usual because now I have almost every afternoon free! I’m trying to get up the motivation to spring clean the rest of the house and wash windows. We all have so many varied feelings about this pandemic. I do know that what helps me is I limit my news viewing. Cannot stand the current leader of our great nation and although I don’t always agree with our NYS gov at least he’s being a good leader and trying to stop the spread. If only all people would follow the guidelines methinks it could be over with a lot sooner!!

    • I agree, time in God’s Word is of the utmost importance in all our circumstances. I try to avoid politics here, but I agree that if everyone would follow the guidelines, we’d get through this sooner with fewer people getting sick.

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  9. The story of the childbirth class is a great one and applies to so many situations in life. I’ll confess in advance I’ll be using it. LOL But you are so right in your suggestions to stay busy and keep things in balance. It’s easy to watch too much news and get focused on all the varying opinions about what we should and should not do going forward. I just remember that God is ultimately in control and He will use whomever He will to accomplish His purposes. Thanks for sharing your stray thoughts.

    • Thank you, Donna. Feel free to use the childbirth class story–I have many times! 🙂 I like radio news because it’s short and to the point. I get stressed if I listen to too much TV news–they try to turn everything into the worst case scenario. It does help to remember that God is in control over all.

  10. Oh yes – it helps not to compare. How funny that we often want to compare even our feelings of anxiety or what/how we grieve. Goodness. All of us are going through days of quarantine. We are “in it together” but doing so uniquely. I appreciated your candid look at these unique days. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you, Jennifer. It is odd that we feel we have to compare instead of understanding that we all cope in various ways. But it helps to know that many of us struggle with the same things.

  11. Thank you for this! I got here via Tim Challies. I’m a homeschool mom, have 4 kiddos, 2 school age and 2 tots. My baby will turn 1 Saturday, and oldest turns 8 Sunday. No grandparents coming on kids’ birthdays is really a bummer. We’re so blessed that my husband still has work, but with no breaks from the kids it means we have even less time than usual to get anything done. I’ve had to back off of social media to not dwell on how much other people seem to be accomplishing and compare our own little world of just trying to keep up with dishes and laundry. It’s REALLY meaningful to hear that not everyone is getting their houses decluttered and cleaned top to bottom. On several days of great weather, I’ve just let the house be what it is and spent time outside with the kids. It seems sunshine really can be a balm to the soul. Thank you again for writing.

  12. “But just because a problem isn’t as big as others doesn’t mean it’s not still a problem.” Yes, and we need to process and grieve that problem. Saying it is of no consequence because it is not as bad as . . . keeps us from admitting and grieving our problem. I fall into this habit, and then realize my mistake in not admitting that this was bothering me, small as it is. Love your tips here. I know some days I get a lot done, and than the other day I took three naps. We are being asked to do something hard. And it will effect our emotions. As much as I have fantasized over having nothing on my calendar, it really is hard.

  13. Barbara,
    I, too, felt kind of weepy on Easter and I admit I felt a tinge of guilt because I was “supposed” to be rejoicing. I couldn’t explain it but the tears just came. After that cathartic outpouring, I felt somewhat better. These are strange times and there is no right or wrong and no points for stoicism. Trying to take it one day at a time is the best way to go…at least for me. Great post!
    Bev xx

  14. I have been feeling much the same. I thought I’d be living my best life staying home so much but somehow the blues have made me have that, how did you say it? “moving-through-molasses” feeling. Such a good description.
    I try to give myself grace. And rejoice when I do accomplish something!
    Love the way you ended your post: “Taking one day at a time. Waiting in hope.

  15. Two things stood out to me most in your post that I definitely feel are so very important. The importance of keeping a balance and the importance of not comparing ourselves to where someone else is in what they are being able to do. Good thoughts in all this!

  16. I could not agree more Barbara, one day at a time. Anything else will certainly lead to panic. I too set myself tasks for each day but many of those days go by without even half of them being achieved. But I don’t give myself too much of a hard time, I just remind myself that I have tried and that I will try again tomorrow. As long as the motivation is there I think that is the most important thing. And you can be absolutely certain that you are not alone here, many of us can empathise with these emotions – they are trying times! #globalblogging

  17. Thank you for sharing how you have been feeling during the pandemic. Many of your thoughts echo my own. This past week I have been experiencing brain fog. I feel like I am moving in slow motion and am not accomplishing much somedays. I am so grateful for a God who is the same yesterday, today, and always. I also know He is in control. Blessings!

  18. I had so many plans for getting stuff done but looking after the kids and working has kept me busy. Plus we are making more mess and needing more food as we are home all day every day. Getting through each day is a triumph in itself! Thanks for linking up with #globalblogging

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