SO here we are, almost two months into the shutdown. It’s actually been over two months for me, because I like to get a head start on things. I’m perpetually and chronically early to a fault. So when in early March it began to seem that we were heading in this direction, I pretty much shut down my life before the order to do so came. I even cancelled my own 60th birthday party at a time when people were still traveling and getting together for social gatherings. Within a week of that, the order came down to stay home, so in retrospect I didn’t feel like such an alarmist.
These are the things I’ve learned so far in shutdown:
- As it turns out, having already been self-employed and working from home for many years, I was in some ways well-suited for life under quarantine. I don’t even much like going outside to begin with, and as an introvert, I try to avoid too much socializing. So when the prevailing guidelines said, “Stay home and don’t gather socially,” I felt that finally the world had come around to my way of viewing things.
- I have to say at this point, before I go on any further, that I don’t mean to make light of the serious medical emergency that has brought this all about, and in fact, this leads me to my next personal discovery:
- Living my normal, everyday life as I am, but with the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic as a constant undercurrent, is insidiously stressful. That is to say, even while keeping oneself busy and entertained, it’s there – it’s out there and it’s in there, and the threat and fear of infection, conscious or otherwise, can sure do a number on one’s psyche. I share this not for selfish reasons, but to reassure those of you listening who might identify with this dynamic that it is something that many or all of us are going through.
- Which brings me to my next point, which is that besides avoiding infection by doing all the right things, following the rules of social distancing, and just generally being cautious, it is equally important to give yourself a break, or rather, many breaks. By that I mean it’s important to excuse yourself, to hold yourself to a lesser standard. Don’t punish yourself for not being as productive as you think you should be. Don’t feel guilty about wallowing in self-pity. Sure, there are many worse off than you – those who have suffered the illness and those who have lost loved ones. But if ever there was a time for self-pity it’s now. There’s a pandemic going on. Cut yourself a big break. Take that nap. Eat those potato chips and ice cream. Binge that TV series. Do whatever it takes to get through the day without falling to pieces. And if you fall to pieces, that’s OK, too.
- Just remember --- take each day one at a time. Do whatever you can not to look into the future nor dwell in the past. Take each day as it comes. Take each part of the day as it comes. Figure out what you’re going to do for the next hour or so and leave it at that. Personally, I like to sketch out my day by the hour when I get up in the morning. That works for me. Maybe it doesn’t for you. Do whatever works. Just be safe and stay well.
Seth Rogovoy is editor of the Rogovoy Report, available at rogovoyreport.com
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