Do you feel like you’ve hit a wall where Covid-19 is concerned? Have you simply had enough with all the restrictions imposed by the pandemic? I know I have!
I admit that as retirees, we’ve had it easier than many. We don’t have jobs or a business to worry about or children at home. My father, our last remaining parent, passed away ten days before the World Health Organization declared the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, so we don’t have elderly parents in care facilities to worry about. Nevertheless, I’ve definitely hit the proverbial wall. Like many others, I’m tired and frustrated.
Experts tell us that this isn’t unusual. Dr. Aisha Ahmad, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Toronto who has has conducted fieldwork on conflict dynamics in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Lebanon, Mali, and Kenya, recently summed it up this way: “The 6 month mark in any sustained crisis is always difficult. We have all adjusted to this “new normal”, but might now feel like we’re running out of steam. Yet, at best, we are only 1/3 the way through this marathon. How can we keep going? First, in my experience, this is a very normal time to struggle or slump. I always hit a wall 6 months into a tough assignment in a disaster zone. The desire to “get away” or “make it stop” is intense. I’ve done this many times, and at 6 months, it’s like clockwork.”
With the pandemic dragging on and no end in sight, it’s easy to become discouraged. In our part of the world summer is over. The days are getting shorter and the hours of darkness longer. We’ve enjoyed beautiful fall weather throughout the month of September, but the long cold winter is just around the corner. People will soon feel more shut in than ever. Add to that the fact that Thanksgiving is almost upon us (we celebrate it in October in Canada) and not long after that, Christmas. Those are times when families usually come together to celebrate, but much of the spread of Covid-19 over the summer has been the result of family gatherings. There’s a lot of uncertainty in many families about how to observe these holidays this year.
One of my greatest sources of frustration is the urge to travel. It may not make sense to a lot of people, but wanderlust (a deep, uncontrollable desire to travel and explore the world) is real. With interprovincial travel discouraged and international borders closed, I’m beginning to feel trapped. Yesterday, I jumped in the vehicle and drove down country roads just to try to appease that feeling!
Then there’s frustration over the divisiveness of this thing. With more than 1 million deaths due to Covid worldwide, there are still those who believe that it’s a hoax or a conspiracy cooked up by “the” government to take control of our lives. I still haven’t figured out which government they’re referring to or why they think that all the governments of the world would come together to destroy their own economies! I was actually told yesterday that it’s all a plot to derail the upcoming election in the United States! What ever happened to calamity drawing people together? It certainly hasn’t happened this time!
Anyway, enough of my ranting! Thankfully, Dr. Ahmad also offers hope. “This is my first pandemic, but not my first 6 month wall. So, what can I share to help you? First, the wall is real and normal. And frankly, it’s not productive to try to ram your head through it. It will break naturally in about 4-6 weeks if you ride it out.” I sure hope she’s right!
In the meantime, what can we do to help alleviate that hitting the wall feeling? Nicole Haughton, a registered psychologist based in Toronto, suggests that that maintaining a proper diet, exercising regularly, going out for fresh air, and engaging in spiritual practices or mindful meditation can be beneficial to mental health during this time.
For me, writing about my feelings is cathartic, but here are a few other suggestions:
- Give yourself something to look forward to. I can’t plan a major trip right now, but I can plan an overnight getaway for our upcoming anniversary.
- Step back from social media and limit the amount of news you consume. I definitely need to take this one to heart!
- Clean out or reorganize something. It could be the kitchen cupboards, a closet, a filing cabinet, or the garage. The simple act of bringing organization to chaos where we’re able to can be very freeing. I did a lot of this back in the early days of Covid-19, but it’s been awhile. Now it’s time to do my seasonal wardrobe switch and reorganize my closet for winter. Having some “new” clothes to wear might also be a pick me up.
- Start a gratitude journal. It’s easy to spiral into negativity, but even in these strange and somewhat difficult days, we all have much to be thankful for.
Finally, psychologist, Dr. Heather McLean, asks her clients to rate themselves on this scale and tells them, “If you see you are on the low end of any of these these, get busy and problem solve, think outside the box, and ask others for help on how to fix it.”
Though the pandemic is likely going to be with us much longer than anyone hoped or predicted, I do trust that it will come to an end. For now, I just need to focus on getting through this blasted six month wall instead of bashing my head against it!