I love being outdoors in all kinds of weather—stinging snow pellets, boisterous winds, pelting rain. I like nothing better than to fling my head back and laugh at the storm. This was my gener-al response to challenges in life, until the COVID-19 lockdowns.
I had just gotten back on my feet after a surgery when churches and schools were shut down. This took away my usual social life and added the extra task of homeschooling to my list of daily dozens. It took more of my time and energy to keep children entertained and gainfully employed. Phone-line church services were difficult to keep restless children interested. I found myself unable to jump this hurdle like normal. I became pessimistic, couldn’t sleep, and then anxiety struck.
Because of my family’s history with mental health issues and my former experience as a mentor at a counselling facility, I knew I needed help. When I confided in my husband, he was shocked because I always appeared strong. I contacted family to see what helped them in time past. My family knows we help each other out when one of us is in a low time. What helps one isn’t always what the next one needs so we’ve learned to take it if it’s helpful and leave it if it’s not. I smile at this list of advice because I can see the bold, optimistic persons as well as the deep, methodical ones that make up my family.
See a doctor. Confide in your spouse. Look for the sunshine or count your blessings. Take vitamin D and/or melatonin. Find someone you can freely share with. Make sure you eat proper meals. Give yourself space to feel and relax. Sing. Go for counselling or take in some seminars. Exercise. Take walks. Get out and socialize. Focus on what you have instead of what you don’t have. Dare to dream but keep it realistic. Spend time with close friends. Give yourself a break from childcare once in awhile. Evaluate your values and live them out. Forgive and allow for imperfection in others as well as yourself. Keep God’s perspective on life.
What helped me was meeting regularly with a mentor from our church, alleviating the cabin fever and helping me refocus on what matters most. I also spoke with my doctor and was given an anti-depressant for the sleep issue. As my sleep quality returned, I could process life better and the anxiety diminished. When I let go of some of my expectations of myself and others I could breath easier, became more flexible, and could enjoy my family again. My husband’s many tokens of love for me buoyed me up. My husband and I spent some time with a marriage counsellor. This was like spring cleaning the recesses of our hearts. Counting my blessings and singing helped my mood. Taking short intervals alone out in nature revived me. Vitamin D improved my energy and concentration level. I was more inten-tional about maintaining contact with close friends and extended family, dispersing the isolated feeling. Most of all, a deeper dependence on God gives me peace and joy while we are still dealing with the pandemic.
I like the motto on my sister’s wall. Life is not about waiting until the storm is past but in learning how to dance in the rain.