Pandemic fatigue is real.
I recently sat in a restaurant with one of my best friends. Tears in my eyes, I said, “I’m just not ready for business as usual. I’m exhausted.usually
“Nobody is ready for business as usual,” she said. “Everyone is struggling right now. We are all tired.”
Everything is hard right now. Also, that’s what she said.
I’m working full time and going to school. This is hard. The school isn’t classes on something fun, like art or writing or whatever, it’s for trauma recovery coaching, which I love and it is hard. I have teenagers and bonus kids whom I love fiercely, and they are moving out and out on their own and dealing with life. This is hard, to know not to shield them and to know this is right and to watch it all unfold and cross your fingers and toes and sometimes lay awake at night because you miss them and want the best for them, and knowing a full life also involves pain and perseverance and making mistakes. I am learning how to – again and again – have a healthier relationship with food. This is hard. I have to cook every single day, and I’m learning to treat it as a sacred time, a self-care time, an escape time. I’m planning a wedding – a tiny, tiny, tiny wedding – which sounds simple but it is hard. Across the country with details – fun details – but hard.
I just need some things to not be hard, like the price of wood (ironically). The price of wood has *tripled* from a year ago. I only know this because we are building a shed and fixing the deck and ever so slowly renovating the house. I call it our Hobo Camp, honestly, as at any given time we have a collection of things on the porch, in the yard, in the driveway, and I wonder how can we still have things to purge? And yet, we do. And we are over our heads with clean up from the last year and storms and etc etc.
The price of wood really got to me. I cried about it. As much as we feel like we are coming out of this pandemic, we are not. It’s the stupid stuff that gets me. The stuff I don’t expect, or the stuff I forget. Like going to a store and having to wait in line to get in, finding out that it’s simply closed on a weekday, just because. Or not really knowing what’s going to be available at any given time. What will be missing from the shelves. What costs will be tripled.
Everywhere I look. Hard. Mess. We are coming out of the pandemic, and the pace is excruciating.
So what do we do in the meantime? I’ve got some ideas.
Go to the Doctor
Get a physical and bloodwork done. Check your baseline. We all ate a ton of bread and sugar over the last year. My own sugar and insulin numbers were in the toilet, and this motivated me to buy a couple of cookbooks that will help my body be happier and work better through reducing inflammation. I made sure that the recipes were simple, because I’m not doing hard and elaborate meals right now.
Make sure they check hormones. What we’ve been through over the last 18-ish months can trigger imbalances, which can mess with our physical and emotional equilibrium. It’s time to start healing, and you can’t heal what you don’t see.
Whatever “it” is, cut it. I can’t worry about trimming the hedges, on my body or in my yard. I can’t worry about the price of wood because of the national shortage. I can’t worry about the academic effects of this school year on my child, not right now. I can’t worry about adding things to my calendar – I’m simply not going to do it. I can’t worry about who disagrees with the vaccine.
Cut it. Cut the worry, cut your hair if you want, cut your concern about what people think, cut it.
I started a meticulously curated series on my Facebook profile with the hashtag #peensinthewild. A few months ago, I began posting memes and my own photos about objects of a certain phallic shape and spirit, along with stories and memes that I came across “in the wild” of social media.
Pretty soon, I started getting messages from friends with submissions of their own that they wanted to add. Now I have a calendar with scheduled posts, two weeks out.
It made me laugh. That’s it. Pure enjoyment and silliness. I enjoyed it so much that I started a Facebook page of the same name, and I’m currently waiting for it to be banned. But maybe it won’t be, and in the interim, it’s hilarious, and literally helping to keep me sane.
Meet With Friends
The weather is nice again. It’s time to leave the house. Meet outside and wear a mask. Meet at a socially distancing restaurant. Meet in your backyard. Meet anywhere. Go to a park or a beach or the mall. Literally anywhere.
There is no substitute for in-person contact. Yeah, we can Zoom or talk on the phone, but it is absolutely not the same as eye contact and inflection and tone
Ride it Out
What do you do when something’s hard? Ride it out, baby.
Remember the important stuff, like skills transfer and feel your feelings. I read recently that it takes 90 seconds to process through and flush out an emotion. I also read that we experience thousands of emotions a day. What a lot of energy. So much energy under our “normal” circumstances, but now we are in transition on top of transition and – if you’re like me, growing and changing – more transition.
I know this is temporary. I recite the truths I have collected over time, well worn pages in my personal book of healing. Feelings aren’t facts. No feeling is final. Rest, rest, and rest some more. Eat good food. Connection – brain and body and spirit, person to person. The earth.
This is temporary. It will all be worth it.