April 15 2020
Endless evenings open and distraction-free for me to work on my creative goals. The writer in me was giddy. Learn guitar. Finish editing my book. Finish writing my other one. Yet I don’t feel like doing any of those things. I don’t feel like doing much of anything.
I mentioned this to my co-worker the other day, and she referenced an article she read about how feeling tired mentally right now is pretty expected. From a psychological standpoint, we are all experiencing high levels of stress and flight or fight mentalities. We are checking in with ourselves more often and scanning our surroundings alert for any potential risk to ourselves.
And that, quite frankly, sounds exhausting. Because even if I don’t notice myself doing that- I’ve no doubt my brain is taking care of it for me.
I’ve also been having big waves of sadness. At first, it was a sadness due to my planned out year being suddenly gone. Within a week, the rest of 2020 was either shut down or questionable. I was going to (finally) head back across the Atlantic to Spain. I was going to take further advantage of my fully remote job. My sister was going to graduate from Vet School and I was going to cheer her across the stage. One of my friends were going to get married and I was going to celebrate with them. I was going to (again, finally) move somewhere new and flow with whatever came after that. I was ready to travel, celebrate, and then nest.
I’m not alone in feeling like the rest of this year has been taken from me. Every single person I’ve talked to has lost something during this pandemic. Or someone. Which is incredibly hard to process. That while this pandemic is alive and prominent in my mind, it also feels distant and almost fantastical. That people are dying from it. That many people are working tirelessly to prevent its spread and anyone else sickening from it.
I don’t want to talk about the pandemic, but rather about what I recently learned in regards to my energy levels and sadness. I want to share the knowledge that has made me feel better, just slightly.
Sadness makes you feel overwhelmed. It fills you up in a way that leaves room for little else. It makes you feel heavy and irritable and frustrated. It drains your energy levels and requires a giant push of re-grounding and refocusing to fade back into the background. And that is all completely normal.
They say you should treat sadness like a sickness. When you’re sick, you eat foods that comfort you. You wear clothes that make you feel relaxed. You watch Netflix and don’t walk away feeling guilty. One solid way of battling sadness is to let your body tell you what it needs and push aside the constant flow of thoughts our brain is pointing out.
I’ve learned that right now, we don’t have to do anything other then what we feel like doing. I don’t have to learn guitar or finish editing my book or get into the best shape of my life. I don’t feel like I have the energy to do all of that. I don’t feel brave enough or happy enough to take on something new.
I feel disappointed in myself for “wasting time.” But the truth is, I wouldn’t be doing any of those things right now if this pandemic hadn’t hit. (I mean, I would be in Spain filling my time with lots of other things and my belly with wine, but that is beside the point.)
Sometimes, you just need to shut off all the judgment on yourself. Bake those chocolate cupcakes, and then eat them. (Here is the recipe if you're looking for inspiration.) We are facing something together (and also entirely apart) that most of us have never encountered before. There is no right or wrong way to ride this out.
You do you, boo.