It’s been nearly a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. It’s safe to say, many of us are now at the point where we don’t want to hear another word about a pandemic, except that it’s over.
With the vaccine rollout underway in many parts of the world, there are glimpses of hope that an end to this nightmare might actually be in sight.
But rumblings of new variants and the continued spread of the virus threaten to overshadow our fledgling optimism that lockdowns and social distancing will ease up in the near future.
By nature, we are social beings who thrive in environments that allow us to gather, explore and celebrate together. But this pandemic cares little about our preferences. It continues to wreak havoc on the fabric of our society.
In my part of the world, our Minister of Health, Adrian Dix, and Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry hit the airwaves on an almost daily basis to give their updates on COVID-19.
For nearly a year, this dynamic duo has tirelessly urged us to be kind, calm and safe. They’ve reiterated the importance of toeing the line, flattening the curve and doing our part to safeguard the vulnerable and avoid overwhelming our health care system. People are committed to this and want to speed up the end game.
But after months of waxing and waning hopes, I know I’m not alone in hitting a wall with pandemic fatigue. I miss my people. I miss hugs. I miss being able to celebrate my loved ones in their highs and hold them close through their lows and losses. I miss cheering for my kids on the sidelines with all the other passionate moms and dads. I miss seeing smiles, and sharing my own with strangers out in the world.
I miss hugging my 93-year-old grandma and holding her hand when we visit. I miss visiting her freely, without needing to pre-book and go through a thorough screening process. I miss seeing her eyes light up at the sight of my kids or our sweet little rescue dog. I miss conversations when she could understand what I was saying because my voice wasn’t muffled under a mask.
Over this past year, I have missed getting to celebrate the life of a friend who lost her life. I have missed witnessing my cousin get married, and I’ve yet to meet her beautiful daughter, who is now 11 months old. I’ve missed being there — being really there — for dear friends who have lost loved ones, and for loved ones who have been through challenging times. These are challenging times.
What do you miss? I’m sure you have a giant list too. Instead of throwing in the towel due to pandemic fatigue, it’s a liberating exercise to acknowledge your losses. It’s much better to grieve for everything and everyone we miss than to drift further and further away from them. It’s better to embrace this as a massive loss than to lose hope.
Because we can’t lose hope — that’s the fabric that weaves us together. And we will be together again.
Until we can be together again, there are some things we can do to help us weather the fatigue. Here are 3 strategies I’ve been turning to lately to keep one foot in front of the other on this pandemic marathon. If they resonate and help you hold on to hope, give them a try.
Get outside in nature as much as possible. Take breaks, clear your mind, and deliberately breathe in as much fresh air as you can. If it’s raining, jump in a puddle. If it’s snowing, make a snowball. Play! Have fun. If it’s sunny, soak in the warmth. Being in nature eases stress. Make a point of shelving your worries while you’re out in nature. Let your outdoor time be your time to reset and recharge.
Be gentle and kind to yourself. Until you can be out in the world, nurturing others, make nurturing yourself a top priority. Get a good night’s sleep on a regular basis. Feed your body with nutrient-dense food. Stay hydrated. Acknowledge and feel your feelings. Limit the time you spend watching the news or mindlessly scrolling social media. Be mindful about what you are taking in. Move and stretch your body. Listen to your favorite music. If you’re blessed to have other people or pets in your household, nurture those connections.
Find healthy ways to tap into celebratory energy. Do what works for you to feel a deep sense of joy and gratitude for the life you’re in. Call up a friend and make it your mission to give them a boost and celebrate how awesome they are. Have a dance party with your household or by yourself — it feels good to listen to music and move.
I’ve started putting in my AirPods while I clean the house or cook. I dance and sing along while I work, and my family is slowly warming to the idea that Mom doesn’t care that she’s not cool.
And, pandemic or no pandemic, each day is an opportunity to embrace the gift of being alive. That’s cause for celebration. Until we can meet and gather again, celebrate your life every chance you can.
Article originally published on emilymadill.com