I am currently sitting in front of my television watching Pope Francis discussing how much our lives have changed since the pandemic began. If you are in the same boat as me then you too have changed a bit as well. During these on and off confinements and continuous bad news, we have learned a great deal about ourselves. What we can achieve, and how helpless we really are.
Looking back at our empty cities, towns, and villages we are still faced with choices. I certainly have learned to choose more of what really matters. I have had to learn to take the time to identify what is really necessary and what is not.
As many of you know my husband and I chose to leave the United States almost a year ago now, and while we both support this choice and stand by it, we are apart. (In distance) This journey, added with Covid-19 has made us stronger as a couple and more dependent on one another. Our communication has grown, beyond what we had before, which was pretty solid before.
One thing that has kept me going is my faith. Mentally, I am exhausted, and physically I am worn. Even if my husband were with me right now, I feel we would both need more comfort. On a daily basis my husband and I video chat, this is where we communicate as a couple. This is also where we support each other as significant others. Even though he is over six thousand miles away he supports me through my anxious moments, and in turn, I support him with his frustration for not yet being able to move completely to France.
Confinement hasn’t been easy for anyone, and I am a homebody. I love staying home, especially in the winter when it is snowing or raining outside. One of my favorite things is to cozy up on the couch in a warm blanket and watch a favorite show or movie or perhaps read a book. I also like to write when the moment strikes, but being a homebody hasn’t made confinement easy. Sure at first I was all for it, I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom to my (at the time) five-year-old. I wanted to take him to the park and play soccer or take him to the library or a museum.
Right before the world imploded I would take him to downtown Portland and treat him to fresh bakery treats or explore the Columbia River. But that was a silly daydream on how I thought confinement would go, in reality, confinement took away my choices.
In France, I need paperwork to be allowed to go to certain areas of Paris, or even beyond. Then I have to carry proof of address with me so I can prove I am within my designated zone. Lastly, there is the curfew.
When my husband came to visit back in January he encouraged me to go outside with him, around 6:30, and I freaked out. Why? Because curfew was 6 pm, yet there was a ton of people outside. He then showed me that the curfew had been lifted and it was safe and legal. So we went outside for a walk, but I was nervous the entire time. I felt as though I was doing something wrong. That got me thinking, what else has this whole situation done to me, to us?
In the news and on social media I hear “we are in this together”, but I am not sure about that. We can reach out to a number of “strangers” on the internet, and time after time we are slapped away. Or shamed. Even now with our open awareness of depression and anxiety, we are still not where we should be with support. Unless our issues are “what’s in” then we are ignored. I am learning even more how to surrender my troubles to my faith.
This hasn’t been easy, and trust me it is a work in progress.
Almost six years ago now, I met one of the most amazing people of my life. I truly feel that she was meant to enter my life, and I am a better person for knowing her. Almost every day we would have lengthy conversations about life, or anything and she was always there to remind me that it is not in my hands. The key to spiritual well-being in is to have faith, to trust, and to surrender it all to the higher power.
So what else do I do to help me both spiritually and physically? Keep reading!
Ways you can reflect and grow
First thing I do in the morning, while I am waiting for my cup of coffee to finish brewing I take time for myself. I thank the Lord for all that I have, for all of the blessings, and then I do a bit of stretching. I take this time in the morning for myself and really connect with myself. I take a few breaths and focus on what good things are going to happy throughout the day. Then I have my cup of coffee. For me this allows me to stay grounded and ensure that I grow as a human, a mother, and a wife. These moments are for me, part of my self-care routine.
Another thing I do for myself is give myself mental breaks throughout the day. I find that this helps me out a lot. I do this by distracting myself, either by listening to a podcast of my choice or listening to my favorite band; Linkin Park. It is hard for me to take a break during the work week, and when I get one it is only for 30 minutes. When I can’t get a quiet moment to myself for my mental distractions then I head outside for really short walk. The five minutes that I spend outside, regardless of the weather is amazing for my mental health. I find I am not nearly as aggravated or tired.
Watch some comedies, I recommend Kat Williams or Jim Gaffigan. Nothing too political. Laughing helps release pleasure-inducing endorphins in the brain, and that is good for your health. As mentioned above, for me that is Amerian Dad or I love to watch Murdock Mysteries or Gilmore Girls. When I am feeling really down and in need of a serious laugh I turn on Friends or Big Bang Theory.
Keep a Journal
Keeping a journal really helps you to reflect and purge things that are happening in your life. Especially during this time of separation, we can really get lost in our own bad thoughts. I find that getting ideas of sorrow and hopelessness in a journal is therapeutic. At the beginning of the year, I began writing a journal, writing down my many lows and my occasional highs. What delighted me at the end of the week was looking back at my entries and finding that I had more good days than bad. I find that the journal put things into perspective for me. Naturally, we want to only focus on the bad stuff, and believe me that sits heavy on our shoulders for days on end, but reading and acknowledging the good events does so much. I find I am quite pleasantly surprised.
Walking, jogging, stretching, or whatever you fancy. I find that getting a little physical, even for fifteen minutes really gets you in a different mindset. For me, going outside during my breaks changes my whole attitude for the day. I don’t reflect on anything, or even try to make a mental list of the things I should be doing or need to have done by the end of the day. Instead, I free my mind from all thoughts and just soak up my surroundings. How? While walking I people watch and trust me that is quite entertaining.
Now for some fun stuff!
After reading this post I hope you take away one thing, do things for yourself. Take the time to really take care of yourself and use this time to grow. However you find comfort, be it faith, exercise or meditation continue doing it!