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)