It’s Not Just You!
Feeling weary as you make it through one day at a time of this coronavirus/COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 season of “sheltering at home” and “maintaining social distancing?” Yeah. I’ll bet you are. It isn’t just you. This post is not intended to discourage or paint a picture of gloom. Not at all. Rather, I want to share this reality check to impress deeply in your spirit, mind, and heart that the weariness you have been feeling is a normal response to very abnormal times. The weariness is probably coming in waves, and sometimes you feel just fine. You may even be enjoying the fruits of “more time” to get some things done that have been on the back burner for a while. But you are now finding you tire more easily than normal. Or you are quicker to lose your temper or to be overcome with emotion in other ways. You have a harder time keeping track of what day it is, or what it was you meant to do when you walked into the other room. Personal or family struggles that have been manageable for some time are starting to feel like they are getting the better of you. Your fitness routine or reasonable dietary habits seem to be falling apart.
Some of you are shaking your head, because you really aren’t suffering from any of this stuff, and you feel sorry for (maybe even scoff at) those who are. But I’m betting a lot of you feel I am talking straight to you. I want to offer what I believe are the two primary explanations of this present condition, and then offer some suggestions for making some healthy adjustments to get through it to a better place.
The image above lays out the most commonly used scale that gives numerical values to various life stressors. This scale has been broadly used in research and various health disciplines. A total score of under 150 is said to mean one has only a slight risk of stress-induced illness. A score of 150-300 means an individual has a 50% risk of stress-induced illness. And a score of over 300 means an 80% risk of imminent stress-induced illness. In light of our present situation, allow me to offer the following chart I created in the spirit of the original standard life stressors list (keeping in mind it has not been scientifically authenticated in any way, but is based on current anecdotal experience):
Now, I don’t share this to suggest your health is in jeopardy or that you are headed for a breakdown. We are resilient beings, and we are in this great big boat together, so I do believe you and I will find our way through this stressful season. But seriously, take a minute to add up your score using BOTH of these lists. And some of you are probably thinking of lots of additional items you are facing that I neglected to include on my list. Give them a score relative to the other items. Use your best judgment about how to handle overlapping categories. Did anyone seriously NOT get a score of over 300?!? My point in creating this additional specific list of life stressors and sharing this whole numerical scale system is simply to make this point: You are doing your best to adjust to an extreme pile of closely overlapping life changes all at once – along with the rest of the human population of planet Earth. This much sudden sweeping change taxes our mental/emotional/spiritual/physical capacity. I’m not saying we can’t handle it or can’t adjust. But it is taxing. It is well beyond the scope of life adjustments most of us have ever made in the span of three years – let alone three weeks.
And the second factor of this present challenge serves to complicate and magnify the effect of all these stressors: we simply don’t know how much longer we will have to live with all of this. And that unknown is such a frustrating factor for the human spirit. Always has been. We want to know. We make every effort to know. We ask and we search and we share and we Google and we Facebook and we theorize and we pray and we wonder. Because we want to know. But right now…we just don’t.
And with all this in mind, my advice to you is simple: Take good care of you. Be kind, patient, and gentle with your self first – and also with others. Don’t let others tell you how you should or shouldn’t be feeling right now. Don’t let others pressure or judge you about how much you are accomplishing with all this “extra time” right now. Give yourself permission to rest: From social media. From extra projects. From television or online news. From work. Take time daily to get outside and get some sunshine and fresh air (even if it means wearing a mask or adding some allergy meds to cope with the spring pollen). Ask for help or a compassionate ear whenever you need it. Accept help and support when it is offered. Beware of addictions – talk to someone about it, if you think you might be developing a problem. Utilize prayer, meditation, good books, and good music to nourish your soul while reaching out to God in the hope and trust of His love for you and me. Check out my previous post for ten more simple suggestions for maintaining wellness. And please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can help in any way. I’ll do my best – even as I’m doing my best to walk my own journey through this wearying season. We are all in this together. Let’s be there to bless one another – even if we have to keep our distance for a while. Especially because we have to keep our distance for a while!