Struggling Post Pandemic? You’re Not Alone

Offering support in the park

As friends around you adjust to post-pandemic life, how are you doing?

If you are struggling to get going again, you are not alone. The last fifteen months have been difficult. As a nation, we have been through trauma. We have been through not only a pandemic but we have collectively been through:

  • The deaths of over half a million fellow Americans
  • A divisive election
  • The loss of jobs and closures of businesses 
  • The exhaustion of our healthcare workers and essential workers
  • Protesting in the streets over the needless deaths of George Floyd and other black men
  • Avoiding getting close to people or hugging them because of safety
  • Losing our daily routines and often adopting unhealthy habits 
  • Working online, often with children in virtual classrooms at our sides
  • Witnessing people waiting in very long lines just to get food on the table
  • Experiencing natural disasters like tornadoes, ice storms, and wildfires 

And it doesn’t stop. Now, as the nation opens up, we have severe drought in California, increased homelessness, a bigger class divide than ever, friends dealing with long-haul Covid, workplace and other mass shootings, and more divisiveness over masks and vaccines. 

So how do we go on? 

  • Give ourselves permission to go slowly, one hour at a time. 
  • Give ourselves permission to feel the heaviness of the last year and to let it go by talking to others, sharing our feelings, taking walks in nature, joining support groups, and reaching out to friends we haven’t seen much during the pandemic. 
  • Write down three things we’re grateful for each day.
  • Watch a sad movie to get in touch with our own grief and sadness so we can shed those muchly-needed tears.
  • Stop comparing our problems to others’ problems because our problems deserve our attention, too, even if they don’t seem as bad.
  • Host picnics in parks with our friends and family.
  • Hug our children and grandchildren and others.
  • Return to events in person if we’re healthy and vaccinated, and we continue to connect virtually if we’re immunocompromised.
  • Listen closely to those who are hurting
  • Get vaccinated and stay masked to protect those who don’t respond to vaccines.

And most importantly, we practice self-care and self-compassion, and we give compassion, empathy, and love to those around us. 

Love In Action

Valentine’s Day is coming, and I haven’t been hugged since March 4, 2020. No boyfriend hugs, no people hugs. I know many others suffering from hug deprivation as well.

So, for those of us in isolation, how do we celebrate the big day? No romantic dinners, no snuggly evenings together. For those who have lost loved ones and are grieving, no celebration, either. Yet one thing we can all do is celebrate love itself. 

In preparation for Valentine’s Day,  I decided to think back on where I have seen LOVE in my last year of isolation and to celebrate LOVE IN ACTION.

I think of the huge amount of love that our healthcare workers have shown. That kind of love is unconditional love, as they lay their lives on the line to care for those with Covid and other medical issues. Medical love in action.

I think about watching the demonstrations on tv, as people marched in the streets in support of Black Lives Matter. Fair and equal love in action.

I remember looking at my doctors and even my physical therapist through a Zoom screen, and how challenging it was for them, some of whom had small kids at home in the background. Family love in action.

I think of the sacrifices of our essential workers, and while many of them may not love their jobs, they have still thrown their all into their work, showing love in action by keeping groceries and other places open. Essential love in action.

I think about the friends who have offered to get things for me, knowing that I am immunocompromised, about the neighbors I didn’t know who have checked on me to see if I needed anything. Neighborly love in action.

I picture the friendly faces of the workers who delivered medicines to my door, most of them with a kind word and a greeting. Delivery love in action.

I remember all the anxious Zoom faces from our church services throughout the last year, and how we all greet each other and talk over each other excitedly before the worship service starts. God’s love in action.

I think about some of the groups I have attended online and how we laugh and cry together. Shared love in action.

I think about how I learned to watch movies with friends through Netflix thanks to new technology, and how we chat throughout the movies in the chat box. Fun love in action.

I remember joining a Zoom to be present in the courtroom when my dear friends formally adopted two boys and how I had tears in my eyes watching online from across the country. Big love in action.

I admire the bookshelves carefully decorated in the background of professionals’ Zooms as they give the news, report on Covid stats, or broadcast their tv shows. Decorator Love in Action. 

And I sadly remember all those who share their grief and hold memorial services on Zoom as they say good-bye to loved ones through video. Painful love in action. 

This Valentine’s Day, I encourage you to celebrate all the ways you have seen Love in Action in the last year. Write them down, talk with friends about how they’ve seen Love in Action, and make plans for how you can practice Love in Action and how you can pay forward all the love you have been shown this year. 

We all need more love, so let’s plan to carry it on throughout this year, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, 2021. Give Love in Action.

Christmas, Day 25

Today is Day 25 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

Thank you to those of you who have celebrated each of the 25 Days of Christmas with me and who have participated in the challenges and ideas I offered to you both in my videos and in my blogs. Having the activities to do together helped at least a few of you who have let me know you were following along in an effort to feel connected, even though we were socially distanced this Christmas.

Like many of you, my Christmas has been quiet and uneventful. I hosted a Zoom coffee hour for a few church members this morning, ate lunch and opened a gift with my mother, and then joined in for a Zoom visit with some family members. The rest of my day was quiet and restful and very different from how I usually spend Christmas Day.

Despite the difference, I have enjoyed a wonderful day. I have felt sadness for those I know who have died and are now sick with Covid-19, I felt a little fear when I heard about the explosion in Nashville, and I felt some letdown when the rain came around noon even though I know we need it. I also felt joy when I lit the Advent candles this morning and when I hosted the Zoom video for my church, and when I joined the Zoom with family members. I felt excited when a friend came by to exchange gifts, and I loved feeling the raindrops on my face as I stayed distanced from him outside.

I have felt so many feelings today. Maybe you have, too. Acknowledging them and naming them is important, knowing that feelings are feelings and they’re perfectly acceptable. What we do with the feelings is what’s important.

What will you do with yours? I know what I will do with mine. I will accept all of them, and I will be grateful that I have feelings. Feelings tell me I’m alive and sensitive to my environment and normal. If I didn’t have a range of feelings today celebrating Christmas in the middle of a pandemic, I’d worry about myself. I trust you will accept all your feelings as well. Give yourself a pat on the back for whatever you did today to take care of yourself.

Thank you for celebrating the 25 Days of Christmas with me. I will leave you with one last affirmation for Day 25: I affirm, accept, and trust all of my feelings.

What’s Your Ideal Christmas? Day 23

Today is Day 23 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

If you have been following my videos and blogs for the last 23 days, you know I’ve been coming up with ideas and activities that we can do together even though we are socially distanced. Some of you have shared these with your friends or nieces and nephews, and some of you have even sent me some ideas of your own.

For Day 23’s activity, I would like you to dream about your perfect, ideal Christmas, and what it would be like. Think about whether you want to be in the snow or in the sand, and who is going to be with you. Dream about what you want to do while you’re there.

As you dream about your ideal Christmas, think about how and when you can make it happen. With careful planning, perhaps you can plan your dream Christmas for next year or maybe for ten years down the road, but holding on to the dream can be important. Of course, not all dreams become reality because plans change and circumstances change, yet I think this year in the middle of a pandemic Christmas, a liittle dreaming is allowed.

As you think about your ideal Christmas for the next 24 hours, just enjoy the dreaming, and then tomorrow night you will come back to the reality of the 2020 Pandemic Christmas and can make it a good one.

The affirmation for Day 23 is “I love to dream about possibilities.”

Picture-Ready, Day 20

Today is Day 20 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

If you have been keeping up with my effort to come up with ways to celebrate the 25 Days of Christmas together, apart, you may know that I have had some challenges that are mental health-related, some that are kid-friendly, some that are simply fun, and some that require some thinking. Today’s challenge is all about being picture-ready so you can document your Christmas in a pandemic year.

I’d like you to do a little cleaning and decluttering of at least one or two of your rooms in your apartment or home. After you clean up a bit, be sure to add a few Christmas decorations in the room. The reason I’d like you to do this is so that you’re picture-ready on Christmas Day.

On Christmas Day, be sure to take several photos and videos of yourself and those who are with you to send to family and friends and to post on social media. It’s one way to share your day with others that you aren’t able to see on Christmas, and it’s also a way for you to have photos and memories to share.

Making a video diary or journaling about the day will be helpful in five or ten or twenty years when you’re remembering how you spent Christmas during the pandemic of 2020. Perhaps you will be in a workshop or simply reminiscing with friends, but having the documentation, the videos, and the photos will be important.

I encourage you to begin cleaning and thinking now about how you plan to document your Christmas Day. When Christmas morning comes, you will be able to grab your smartphone or camera and begin documenting history.

The affirmation for Day 20 is “I am present and aware of what I am doing at all times.”

Nurturing Your Inner Child, Day 18

Today is Day 18 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

I can’t believe today is Day 18 and Christmas is just a week away. I continue coming up with ways we can celebrate Christmas together, apart, since so many of us won’t be with family and friends this year due to Covid-19. I hope you will add your comments on my Facebook page to let me know if you have any suggestions.

The activity for Day 18 is to nurture your inner child. You have a strong innocent, fun-loving, feeling part of you that lives deep inside you and needs to be acknowledged, nurtured, and validated. Especially since you’re living in a pandemic and stress is high, it’s really important to take care of your inner child.

How do you do that? It’s different for everyone. Here are a few suggestions, but you will know what works best for you.

  1. snuggle a doll or a stuffed animal or a blanket and feel like you’re hugging something
  2. build a fort in the middle of your den and sit inside of it for a while
  3. watch a children’s movie or read a children’s book
  4. decorate cookies

There are lots of options for nurturing your inner child, and it really is important not to neglect that part of you. Have fun and be creative as you nurture your inner child.

The affirmation for Day 18 is “I acknowledge, nurture, and validate my inner child.”

Validation, Day 14

Today is Day 14 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

As we continue to celebrate the 25 Days of Christmas together, apart, the activity for Day 14 is going to be a good one to do with children in your life. You will also like it if you’re creative and somewhat artistic.

I’d like you to use a sheet of paper and draw a big star on it, or if you think you’d like to hang the star on your Christmas tree, you might want to draw several smaller stars.

Think about a few of your best qualities, characteristics, or things you like about yourself, and write them in the points of the stars. You will need at least five of your best traits in order to fill all five points of the star. Then decorate the star with glitter or add some designs to it and hang it on your tree to remind you of how special you are.

This exercise is a good one to do in person or on Zoom with kids, as they need to be able to identify and own their good qualities. Share your star with them and ask them to tell you about theirs or to send you a picture of it. Validating yourself is important especially if you’re isolated more than usual because of the pandemic and aren’t receiving validation from others.

The affirmation for Day 14 is “I am unique and special.”

Selfie Time, Day 9

Woman and dog taking selfie.

Today is Day 9 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

Welcome to Day 9 of the 25 Days of Christmas, as I continue to suggest activities and ideas that we can do to celebrate Christmas together, apart, since so many of us won’t be able to be with family and friends this year.

The activity for Day 9 will be fun. I suggest you take a selfie of you, or you and your dog/cat, or you and whoever lives with you. Send your selfie to family and friends that you usually spend time with at Christmas but won’t be able to see this year. Post the photo on your Facebook page, send it to friends by text or email, print it and send it in a snail mail card, or print it and put it on your door.

You may even want to use that selfie as your picture on Zoom or Google Meet when you have video meetings with others.

Have a little fun with your Christmas selfie. Put on a silly Christmas sweater, put a bow in your hair, wear a Christmas hat, put on your flannel pajamas, or hold a cup of cocoa. Challenge your friends/family to send you a selfie of themselves, too.

Sharing photos is a good way to feel like we are connected when it isn’t safe to be with each other physically. I hope you will also share your selfie on my Facebook page!

The affirmation for Day 9 is “I treat my friends well and stay in touch with them.”

Being Grateful, Day 8

Today is Day 8 of the 25 Days of Christmas, as I continue to come up with activities and challenges we can do as we celebrate Christmas together, apart.

The activity for Day 8 is to start a gratitude list. Perhaps you want to write your list on a slip of paper and put it in a jar or box each day, or perhaps you’d like to use a journal or notebook. It’s important to come up with at least three things you’re grateful for each day and share those three things with someone else. You may even want to write your three things on your Facebook page to encourage others to start a list. Especially during holiday time in the middle of a pandemic, I think it’s important to stay tuned in to gratitude which has been proven to help you keep a positive attitude and a more healthy outlook.

Hopefully, you will find staying in touch with gratitude to be a good thing for your mental health and will decide to continue making your list after the holidays. This activity is a really good one to do with your children or grandchildren, as it will help raise their awareness of what they can be grateful for since their holidays may look very different this year.

Thank you to those of you who are participating and sending me your new favorite Christmas songs, poems, and sharing your random acts of kindness from the first week of activities. I hope you’re having fun with these challenges.

The affirmation for Day 8 of the 25 Days of Christmas is “I choose to be grateful in all circumstances.”

Discover Christmas Poems, Day 7

Today is Day 7 of the 25 Days of Christmas!

For the 7th Day of the 25 Days of Christmas Activity, I’d like you to find a new Christmas poem that you like. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” is a popular one, but there are so many others. Some are sad, some are funny and cute, and some are classics.

Another option for finding a new Christmas poem is to write one of your own. Perhaps you’d like to read your own poem on video or to read one that you find in a book or online. I encourage you to post the poem you like in the comments on my Facebook page under the video of Day Seven.

Sharing favorite poems is another way to celebrate Christmas together, apart, which is the theme of this video and blog series I’m doing. Keeping friends and family together by doing activities and challenges such as the ones I’m suggesting is a fun way to promote a little camaraderie with friends and family since so many of us won’t be together this year.

Thank you to those who are sending me your favorite new Christmas songs, telling me about your acts of kindness, and other things that you’ve done during Days 1-6 of the 25 Days of Christmas.

Have fun discovering or creating your poem for Day 7. The affirmation for today is “I am curious and creative.”