13 Months of Stress

 


We now into our 13th month of the pandemic.  Does anyone remember when we thought we were going to be in "lock down" for only 2 weeks?  When we were told by the powers that be that it was all going to go away?  (No politics; just remembering what was being said.)

I bring this up now because yesterday I attended a seminar (virtual, of course) entitled "Coping with Pandemic Fatigue."  Isn't it a little late for that?  Shouldn't that have been on the agenda a year ago?  Six month ago?

Pandemic fatigue IS still a thing.  And the session was helpful.  Several hundred people attended.  (Can you imagine what it would have looked like if it had been an in person event?) Clearly we are all still experiencing pandemic SOMETHING...be it fatigue, burn out, anxiety...you name it...we've all got it in one form or another.  (Or perhaps that should be many forms because they change on a day by day basis.  In some cases hour by hour or minute by minute!)

The facilitator was very calming.  She did a wonderful job of validating all the things we are feeling or have felt.  She offered some stress relievers.  We shared ideas of what to do when we are fatigued/stressed/frustrated.  It was very productive.

BUT... 

While I am listening/viewing I'm not fully focused.  The webinar does not fill my full laptop screen; I have my email open in the background.  For the entire hour and a half, while the presentation was going on, I was STILL checking in on emails and handling items that needed to be dealt with.  So even as I was supposed to be learning about how to handle the stress, I was allowing myself to be stressed out.  I couldn't allow myself to fully focus and take the time because there was so much that was going on in the background and I couldn't turn that off.

I know that's wrong.  I know for me the best relief is to turn off and do something relaxing.  Now that spring is attempting to arrive, one best things I can do is grab some suntan lotion and sit out in my backyard with a good book for a half an hour (or maybe more.)  However, then I start thinking about how cool it would be if I could work outside.  If I just got an inexpensive table or a tv tray (are those even a thing anymore?), I could set up my laptop and work in the sunshine.  

Now while that would be a plus, I mean why confine yourself to a small office space when you can be in the fresh air, doesn't that also defeat the purpose?  Won't I just be taking my stress with me?

For me, one the most difficult things with this pandemic is walking away. When I worked in an office the computer was shut down at the end of the day and for the most part that was that.  (I'll admit that some days I did log back on from home, but that wasn't the norm.)  Now as soon as I am doing with my morning walk (or whatever exercise I happen to be doing if it's too cold/wet for that), I'm turning on the laptop and seeing what the work day holds for me.  I leave it on while I go to dinner and check back in afterwards.  I may say I work 8-5, but that's not completely honest.

 Actually, I shouldn't blame that on the pandemic, it's all on me.  In the past 5 years, I have never taken a full week off.  When I took last Friday off, because it was quarter close, I made sure to check in towards the end of the day.  In my mind, I am actually saving myself from undue stress on Monday (and dreading the day towards the end of Sunday).  Seeing all the email in my inbox on Monday mornings is always a blood pressure raiser.  Even if the majority of the mail does not require any action on my part.  Just seeing that number...

I need to be better to myself.  We all do.  We all face stressors every single day.  We need to be strong enough and wise enough to walk away when we need to.  It's a lesson I'm TRYING to implement.  Maybe I'm "failing" 80% (or more) of the time, but I need to keep trying.  We all do.

We need to not just be good to others, but good to ourselves as well.  It's not easy, but it's what we need to do.  We need to take care of ourselves.  We need to find a space away from the stress, even if just for a few minutes.  We are worth it.


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