About six months ago I was optimistically hoping COVID-19 would be under control. Unfortunately, we’ve seen that it is still dominating the news, social media, and personal conversations. I try to seek out positive, encouraging messages or thought leaders to fill my almost depleted emotional and mental tanks. I wanted to share a few items I’ve come across that maybe can bring you hope.
“If you’re experiencing increased sadness or anxiety along with an urge to dramatically change something about your life – some of the markers of Pandemic Flux Syndrome (I didn’t know it had a name) – be assured you’re not alone. Although human beings are more resilient than we generally appreciate, it will take time for many of us to stably recover, to reflect and calibrate.” Dr. Amy Cuddy
“We are still in recovery mode from trauma. Our reserves are at minimum if not depleted. The summer was a rush for many of us to make up for lost time. The common theme in talking with those having 1 week, 3 weeks, or even several months off – is that summer wasn’t enough. We could all use another round to recover. In fact, the little time off seemed to be somewhat of a disappointment.” Dan Allender
And in most cases – it was not the type of summer we are use to. Hotel rooms were not cleaned every day, very few rental cars were available, restaurant service seemed lower quality due to the national labor shortage, and then there was the challenge of no parking or tickets in national parks. A true sign the end is near: Disney parks started charging for the once free Fast Passes!
Dan Allender goes on to talk about 3 effects that can result from experiencing trauma (which is what the last 18 months can be described as):
- Fragmentation – This explains the brain fog, forgetfulness, completely drained from work or routine tasks like grocery shopping, confusion, “Why did I walk into this room?”, “Why can’t I remember basic objects, names, or places in conversations?” – I think we’re all experiencing this one. How do we fight this? Being kind to ourselves (our inner souls) and others and realize the majority of people are going through this right now. Use lists, sticky notes, or the note app to immediately capture a thought before moving on to something else. Pull back from multi-tasking. Don’t expect a big event to solve it (Disneyland, a Caribbean cruise, or any other trip, buying a luxury car or RV, a huge gathering, a new house or apartment – those things may help – but don’t set yourself up for disappointment. “Live in day-tight compartments” (Sir William Osler) instead of becoming overwhelmed at what lies ahead.
- Numbing – The list of losses continues to pile up for everyone it seems. Sometimes the immediate or the accumulation of pain has become too much. We (fingers pointing at me also) seek life, escape, and fulfillment to make up for the hurt and losses by: eating too much, drinking too much, laying in bed not asleep, too many movies or tv, watching sports for hours, wasting hours on social media, loading up my Amazon cart, procrastination of basic chores – I think we can all relate. How do we fight this? Make small changes from overindulgence to rediscovering moderation. A great resource to read is The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins. Slowly replace bad habits with good ones. Find creative ways to trade healthier food instead of sugar and salty, trade walking, exercise, or gardening for binge tv, and trade social media time for reading books. The trade can be as small as 5 minutes or a handful of food – but it is all about starting something new that ultimately makes us feel better. And also, allow we need to allow ourselves to feel grief over the losses and not just emotionally bury them. Pray about them, write them out on paper, vent with a trusted friend.
- Isolation – After our lives feel disconnected mentally and physically. After we seek happiness any way we can find it – the natural progression is the desire to be alone. Why leave the safety and comfort of my home when there are so many annoying people out there? Why drive my car when so many are aggressive, on my tail, and might cause me to cuss? Why try to follow God intimately when things just seem to be getting worse and He feels distant? Many people that once followed Jesus closely are abandoning their walk with him. Nothing drastic – just focusing time, energy, and money into finding life somewhere else. How do we fight this? As pastor Craig Groeschel states, “Begin by lowering your expectations of others. We’re not perfect, so why put perfectionist expectations on others?” Attempt slow re-entry into social situations. Meet people at a neutral location to take the pressure off of you for cooking and cleaning. Try visiting church in person instead of online. Read a verse or two in the Bible instead of a chapter or reading plan. Maybe text someone different every week to check in on them. With the holidays coming up – allow yourself the freedom to feel completely exhausted after gathering with family – and allow yourself time to rest and recover. Accept at this point you probably can’t volunteer, give, have company, or “pour yourself out” like you used to. And that is perfectly all right.
Conclusion – Mr. Allender also stated bouncing back from this isn’t a quick fix. The social, economic, spiritual, and educational “hits” that we have taken could take years to recover from. Hopefully, some of the “fighting techniques” listed can give you a starting place for your recovery process. Possibly just naming some of the struggles can offer relief that you are not the only one experiencing these symptoms – especially brain fog for me (this would be a horrible time for me to be a Jeopardy contestant).
Remember, it is okay to slow down. We need to rediscover rest. People struggled with this concept even several thousands of years ago. The Old Testament prophet Isaiah penned this observation regarding the people of his time:
“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength. But you would have nothing of it.” (Isaiah 30:15)