Last week, I talked about how with everything happening in the world right now with COVID19, we are seeing both the best and worst of humanity. I will be honest, I was feeling pretty discouraged by the amount of negativity that everyone is exuding in the literal pandemonium. People physically assaulting others in the grocery store, yelling at nurses and other healthcare workers in public heading to their shifts in their scrubs, and people just being outwardly nasty because we are all feeling a little burnt out and overwhelmed by it all.
However, lately I have seen some reassuring demonstrations of the good of humanity. People offering to pick up essentials for those who may be immunocompromised or unable to do this themselves. Medical students offering their time in isolation to care for children of healthcare workers who will be on the front lines, and the outpouring community support of people wiling to make masks and scrub caps, donate PPE and keep healthcare workers like myself and my colleagues safe. THANK YOU. Amidst what seems like defeat (you know when you see pictures of 149334038 people in line NOT social distancing outside your local Costco, or patients on the phone tell you that COVID “isn’t real”), these little moments are the things that are lifting most of us up right now in our darkest moments.
This week, my dad has been sending me videos of my the street I grew up on celebrating healthcare workers- each night at 7 PM people come out on their lawns (socially distanced style) and make some noise for people working on the front lines. As you guys know I am certainly not a feel good love of emotions kinda gal but this has been hitting me RIGHT in the feels. It’s a really weird time (for all of us, but I’m especially feeling that way). I’m proud to be doing this work, but also terrified and a little anxious to see how this all pans out- it will be one for the history books for sure. Looking at almost every house on my street with someone standing outside gets me a little bit because it is a little reminder to all of us during these moments where we are doubting what seems like it all- that it all really does matter.
It’s really easy with everything going on to feel like you are pressured to take this time to “better” yourself or learn a new skill, get your “life together” so to speak- but know that it is also okay if you can’t. I had been kind of kicking myself for not being able to use all of the “time” I’ve had not at work to do the lingering things on my to do list (you KNOW how that is irking me and my OCD that it’s still there!) But I also realized that I am more emotionally burnt out than anything. It’s not heroic to try and push through at the expense of the care I can provide to my patients, the interactions I have with my colleagues, or my mental health for that matter.
For myself, I have always had a hard time sitting around because that is when I tend to sit and stew in my own emotions and thoughts (tbh poor coping skills haha) so I am pretty notorious for having a lot on my plate. Being able to positively channel my energies and anxieties about this pandemic was a big reason why I decided to help out at Telehealth (and to be honest some days it is a nice break from the hospital chaos). My point being, we all deal with stress and grief differently- there is no right or wrong way to do this.
Take time to be patient with yourselves. We’re sitting in the unknown and that is a really hard thing for a lot of us. Just remember that we are all humans (every single one of us battling this thing together whether you are a manager, politician, front line worker). And our humanity comes first. Have empathy for others going through situations you could not even imagine, and do your small part each day to better the lives of others in every interaction you have. It is so easy for us to go through the motions right now when our minds are elsewhere.
A lot of us have a great deal of anxiety over the things that we are not in control of right now because they decide our fate (let’s be real my anxiety over things I can’t control on a regular day is already very real but more on that in another post). It’s important for us to ground ourselves in these moments (lots of great techniques here– check out #2 which is one I personally love), to gain some perspective. The world will not end if we have the extra 150 calories, get that workout in today, and we will not change those things not in control if we worry about them or not. A little reminder cause we all need it during these moments where we are isolated and can feel super alone even though we’re all going through this together.
To finish this one off, I’ll leave you with a post by the one and only Rupi Kaur that resonates with me a lot. Hopefully when we finally make it to the other side of this thing, we will be able to take some good away from it. Stay safe and remember to smile today everyone!