How To Survive A Perpetual Pandemic

As we approach the 2 year mark on this pandemic, I think we can all agree it’s been a doozy. I listened to a podcast that said it most perfectly, “The biggest problem is that they keep changing the end goal on us!” It’s one thing to brace yourself for trauma, but it’s another thing to think it’s about to end and then find the end date has once again been extended. There is something very Sisyphusian about Covid. We keep pushing the stone up the hill, only to have it roll right back to the bottom the next day. So how do we keep doing it? Most days I linger in bed long after the alarm goes off at 6:30am. Self admittedly I am not a morning person, but in the past I would fall back asleep after the buzzer. I now find I need to take 30-40 minutes just to process what happened the day before, what the current day has ahead for me, and how I want to feel throughout the day. Below I dive a little deeper into some of the things I ponder and the intentions I set so that I can keep on keeping on during what feels like this never-ending new way of life. Hang in there friends. The only thing we know for sure is that change is coming. It always does. In its own time…

Change your internal dialogue.

I used to be the kind of person who had steam coming out my ears when I was cut off in traffic. A rude text or email would send me into a tailspin. But these days I play the compassion card and it has reduced my road rage by 50%. 😉 The inner dialogue becomes, “Does that person even really know they cut me off?” I’ve realized that it’s more likely they were inside their own head, managing their own stresses, and there was no ill-intention in the action. A curt text might just be someone who got bad news and didn’t have the focus or bandwidth to reply in a timely or thoughtful fashion. If being excluded from a plan feels hurtful, I now remind myself that I might be dodging a Covid bullet by staying home. Or even better, what if the universe has a better plan in store for me since I wasn’t included in that thing I heard about. It’s reframing what is happening every day to make the outcome positive instead of negative. And it’s reminding yourself that we never really know what is happening in someone else’s life behind the scenes. Choosing to show others grace, even in the face of bad behavior, is more compassionate and reduces your own stress at the same time. What we believe to be true is often based on what we tell ourselves inside our heads. Today just go for it. Tell yourself you are lucky and awesome. See how it feels, and dare to believe it.

Focus on the things you have.

My second child is the one who saw the most “Covid Cancellations”. No in person play last year and the year before. No culminating Westward Ho event as she left the lower school. No Mexican Fiesta to celebrate her 4th grade year. And her fifth grade overnight trip to Gettysburg was just officially cancelled too. It’s easy for me to feel the blues about these losses, BUT this kid has been in class in person all of last year and this year. She has also had plenty of sports and gatherings safely in person. That’s a lot more than many children and parents have gotten on the education front. She saw her dearest friends in safe conditions even from the beginning of the pandemic. So I focus on what she has been able to do instead of what she hasn’t. And I have found gratitude for so many small things I once overlooked. Time in my garden has brought me such joy. We spent 6 years fixing and decorating our home. I now walk from room to room daily just appreciating the details and feeling grateful that I have a home we can all comfortably live in. I can’t imagine what life would be like with children in a small apartment when quarantine hits. We have a yard. Hallelujah! We also saw my husband for more family dinners in the last two years than we had seen him for in the prior 10. It was one of our biggest silver linings. When we got Covid for Christmas I really focused on how lucky we were to have nothing more than a headache and some sniffles. I know so many were really sick and worse with Covid and even worse diagnosis. We had a cozy holiday the five of us and I was thrilled my husband did the cooking. I took many moments to tell him how grateful I was that he cooked. Focusing on what I had – the five of us healthy, being together, and John cooking. All such wonderful things that I “have”.

Allow yourself to laugh. (At literally anything!)

Being able to laugh at yourself and with yourself are important life skills. Any chance we got during the quarantine we tried to see things through a funny lens. We decided early on in the quarantine that “Movie Night” was one of the best ways for us to pass the time in isolation. We almost always chose comedies that made us laugh out loud. We also did a decent amount of tickle torture sneak attacks. Hearing my kids belly laugh gives me an instant pick-me-up. I also was on a text chain where we sent each other idiotic and hysterical memes daily. Cheesy, sappy, true, untrue – all the memes, all the time.

Kiss and make up.

Ooh the tensions of Covid. It has been so hard on our closest relationships. I read an article at the end of the summer that eloquently summed up the challenges of being in a partner relationship during the pandemic. The writer highlighted how, after years of having tons of people we spend time with throughout our days, all of a sudden it predominantly became just one person. Because of Covid, we did and sometimes do still turn to our significant other and expect them to be our spouse, our best friend, our coworker, and our extended family members. We want one person to hear us and meet all our needs, when that used to be the job of a wide variety of people and personalities. That’s a lot of pressure on one person. And in our home we felt that friction a lot in early Covid. So I decided over the past two years that, now matter how crazy life was or how annoyed I was at him, I would go into my husband’s at-home office almost daily and kiss him on the lips. I had read that a 10 second kiss (just lip to lip) can calm us, make us feel connected, and release endorphins. The fist time I tried it we both started to laugh, which we now know is so good for us (see above paragraph). The second time he thought I wanted something. And by the third he was starting to understand. He was less than thrilled when I tried it when he was on Zoom calls, but I bet if you ask him, he will say it became a really pleasant surprise. I tried to do this on some of our roughest days. And that’s when it is the hardest to love each other well right? On those days when the pandemic has taken a job, crashed the markets, ruined a plan, made someone sick, made someone quarantine… Those are the days that feel the most brutal to connect, but after we extend that love-filled olive branch both sides usually feel much better.

Tell your children it is all going to be ok.

If I have learned anything through parenthood it is that our children are always listening. And they can really feel and be affected by our body language and emotions. I have never been one to sugarcoat the truth with my children, but this time around my gut told me that my kids needed to see the adults in their life stay calm as their world shifted day by day. We rarely had the news on in front of them to shield them from the terrifying numbers of sick and dead. And even on my darkest days when I fear Covid will never end, I always bring those thoughts to my husband or friends. The conversations happen behind closed doors so our children can’t hear. I think these young humans have been so brave and resilient through this entire process. Right now I think they need to believe that this will soon end. And if what I said above holds true, hearing us say we are going to make it through will hopefully help them and us to believe it.

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  1. Love this, Lin ♥️

  2. Just lovely!!

  3. Selina Strong says:

    You are a wise woman and a wonderful writer, Lindley. This message is so needed right now and so thoughtful. I enjoyed reading about your survival tactics and will remember to use them in the coming days, weeks. This pandemic crisis will end. Things are looking better every week. We need to continue to manage ourselves with compassion. Hold hands and cross the street together. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and your life. I love you very much.

  4. So eloquently insightful.

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