• Jody Kussin

In Times Like These #4 3-18-2020

We left off on the topic of EMOTIONAL PREPAREDNESS. By now, you are a few days or weeks into the ‘new normal’ and already you are rocking lots of this. You have figured out how to be your own I.T. person (or how to ask google or Siri or Alexa to teach you how to unplug, plug back in, re-set and start again) and you have figured out that your dog now believes you were put on this earth SOLELY to be with him/her, 100% of the time, around the clock. You have mastered little things, like saying, ‘Mommy needs a break now. Please go do something and unless you are drawing blood from one another, do not contact me until this beeper goes off.’ You are arranging virtual visits with grandparents, even if they live a few miles from your house. You are also figuring out why HOME SCHOOLING is not popular! You also may be noticing that for many of our teens, the world’s pandemic is not decreasing their important concerns about if this is a good hair day, what it means if last week’s BFF is waiting a full 10 minutes to text back, and how even though schools said this is going to be an 8-3pm school day albeit online, that is NOT going to work for them.

You are likely not gaining the Covid-19 (pounds) (like the Freshman-15….this observation provided by my savvy niece Sarah) and you are not headed to the six months from now predicted divorce court. (Note: Every day you shelter in place with your spouse gets counted like ‘dog years’ – so for each day you are stuck together at home, it counts as seven days - - - by the end of this, you boost your anniversary numbers by tons!) So all things considered, you are FINE and for the most part, you are rocking this.

However, there is still the occasional panic attack, that presents like a mini-heart attack. Or the occasional melt down in the broom closet. Or the occasional yelling at your partner even though s/he did not do anything other than chew loudly (which, believe me, IS annoying.) There are also the moments of self-doubt, fatigue, overwhelming anxiety and worry. Moments of ‘this is surreal, but it IS real, and who knows who is carrying what germs when and how long is this going to last?’

So let’s take stock and see what you think works that does not, and what you have yet to consider trying because the sheer number of links you’ve received in your in box is too overwhelming to review.

What you think works is that now you can consume more than your one glass of evening wine. You’ve slowly begun drinking earlier in the day because ‘hey, it’s 5:00 somewhere and I deserve it’ and thus you are drinking more. This may provide momentary relief but actually, this is not an adaptive or healthy pattern. It’s bad role modeling for the kids and the ‘it’s not like I’m driving anywhere’ statements do not fool anyone.

You may also think that taking the ostrich approach works. However, note to self, ostriches do not really bury their heads in the sand – they look like they are and thus gained a bad reputation, but truly, they are digging holes for their eggs and after they lay the eggs, they are sneaking a peak to ensure their offspring are ok. So not only are they NOT paying attention to life, they are, conversely, intently studying their soon to be babes to make sure they are fine. So do not bury your head in the sand because truthfully, you cannot breathe while buried. And what we are all essentially trying to avoid right now is breathing problems.

What works, though, in terms of our emotions? For one thing, it’s ok at various moments to lean into your feelings and acknowledge this is a once in a lifetime scary moment for the whole planet. We are all in it together, and none of us WANT to be in it at all. Have a little pity party. Have a pajama day. Watch a sad movie and have a cry (I’d recommend the original “Homeward Bound.”) Feel the feelings! And where possible, feel them with someone else – a neighbor walking the dog who waves from across the street will be highly sympathetic to you sitting outside in your bathrobe and have a little cry.

What works also is acknowledging that despite the sad, mad or worry, you know you can handle this. You’ve handled lots of things. And you can handle this. Not alone, mind you. To be emotionally prepared, make an actual written list of people in your life. Maybe make 10 large circles on a page and fill in names from different times/places (school friends, college friends, neighbors, camp friends, work friends, sports/team/gym pals, family/cousin friends, old neighbors, etc.) You can also look through your ‘friends’ on social media and remind yourself of those with whom you have not connected in a while. And then set up times to connect. Participate in a facebook international sing along with pals from Instagram. Encourage your college friends to do a You Tube yoga or line dance class together. With our technology today, we can all stay connected. We can decide on that balance for each of us, so that introvert cat like folks do NOT have to be overly connected and the social butterflies can set up multiple events per day. For we know that helping our emotions along is decreasing a sense of loneliness and FOMO. (Note – we are not missing out on much these days as the whole planet is literally now engaged in sheltering in place.) Meantime, tiny reminder – we CAN actually use a phone to call people. It is a lovely way to connect. Try it.

And here are the things you already know that are helpful. Keep a schedule/routine that includes flexibility, mixing up the day, and build in balance between sedentary and active, serous and silly, arts and music. Unplug things and engage in WATER PLAY (bath, shower, wash dog, wash patio furniture, wash car) because water is good – not to hoard in the fridge, but in which to immerse.

And for your own sanity, do something nice for someone else, every day.Practice a random act of kindness because it’s good for the planet, and even better for you.And remember

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