Remember as a kid, in the good old days when you didn’t have a calendar that must be obeyed? You might remember going someplace your parents decided the family needed to go. Might have been visiting Grandma or relatives or driving to the next town to go shopping. As a kid, you didn’t think in terms of how many miles we had to drive or how long it was going to take. Like it or not, you were along for the ride. You were in the backseat of the car getting antsy, waiting for the car to stop so you could be freed from the confinement of the seat belt and this unspecified time of someone else deciding what you needed to do.
If you’ve been a kid or if you are a parent, you’ve heard the question…Are we there yet?
Is this question still on your mind today? It seems that we have been on this long car ride, buckled in the backseat not knowing when this torture will be over. Welcome to life in the first half of 2020. We have limited choices about where we can go and restrictions related to following the distancing and hygiene rules to stop the spread of COVID19. It is safe to say, we don’t like it. It is impacting every aspect of our life. You can look into the eyes of the masked faces you see everywhere and find weariness. Perhaps it is occurring to us that this is our imposed lifestyle for the foreseeable future.
For me, the fear started January 24th, 2020 when I boarded a plane to San Francisco to go to a conference with the Couples Institute. I heard the reports of the virus spreading in other countries. San Francisco airport was on high alert for travelers who might bring the virus into the US. I was well supplied with masks and disinfectant wipes for my airplane ride. I gave everyone in my row a sanitizer wipe for the tray table. I couldn’t tell if they were alarmed or relieved to be offered the wipe, but everyone took part and humored me with a wipe down of their area. Remember, this was in the time before we had any guidance from the CDC and didn’t know what social distancing meant. Can you remember those days? Doesn’t it seem like forever since we have had freedom from worry and threat?
Seems like from the phone calls I’ve been getting at my counseling office that we are getting antsy and ready to break free from this long journey. We have exhausted our coping skills, our patience and our list of home improvement projects. We are faced with months, perhaps years of living this way until new vaccines can protect us and return us to the freedom we underappreciated just a few short months ago.
So, what do we do now? First, we practice patience. There are 4 phases to disaster management; mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. We are in stage 3 – response. We aren’t there yet and we won’t arrive for a long time. We are stuck in the backseat waiting for the car to stop. While we pass the time, there are things you can do.
- Practice patience.
- Appreciate what is working.
- Give yourself space and time to gather your coping skills.
- Apologize when you are irritable and disagreeable.
- Find outlets for your stress.
- Let you partner know you need support.
- Set small goals and celebrate your accomplishments.
- Consider the opportunity to thrive in threat.
- Reach out when you have exhausted your coping strategies.
- Write a letter to older, wiser self who lives through this and arrives at a place that is more satisfying than getting bogged down in struggle. What would thriving in threat look like?
Welcome to the Club Everyone! We are in this together. It is a wild ride. Hang on!