What’s helping you get through these challenging days of pandemic? When I, along with most of the other people employed at my university transitioned to working from home in March, I kept seeing the same phrases over and over again: In these uncertain times… In this unchartered territory… In this time of chaos… Language is so important—it influences our thoughts and our thoughts affect our feelings. Those phrases became overused—and it is understandable since part of dealing with something new to us in the world is finding language to talk about it.
The Power of Language
I needed better language—a more powerful and encouraging way to think about the present in my day-to-day life. I struggled with this and still do, but coming across a Maya Angelou quote in the midst of an article that I can’t even remember the topic of now, really strengthened me: “Every storm runs out of rain.” Isn’t that the best news ever? When something difficult is happening—no matter how grim, we know it is not going to continue forever. It will cease. The storm will dry up, and the sun will shine again. I have thought of this quote many times over the last six weeks.
I think my Grandma’s version, although less poetic was no less true: “This too shall pass.” Repeat the Angelou quote, “Every storm runs out of rain.” Repeat the Grandma quote, “This too shall pass.” Say them and believe them and think about them as many times as you need to. Maybe you even want to hold on to a verse right now. How about Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Amen.
Talk to Someone
You might need someone to talk to. Maybe that colleague you are used to chatting with several times a week—the one who “gets you” and is so supportive is available for a phone chat or Zoom meeting? I hesitated to ask friends to chat of have virtual coffee—I didn’t want to add “one more thing” to anyone’s load, but each time, the other person has been just as eager to connect as I was and it was positively healing just to be able to chat and share and yes, vent, to a friend who understands.
Yes, I know you are possibly sheltering at home with your spouse and kids, so you have people to talk to. I just want to encourage you to talk to someone who will really listen and support you. You might want to do a coffee break together, virtual lunch, or even virtual happy hour.
Have you seen the meme on social media depicting the “two kinds of women” in quarantine? One is using the time to “better herself” and the other is “eating cake with her hands.” You might be both of these women—even on the same day—I know I have been, and that is okay. You may feel like you need a nap and Netflix. That is fine. You may feel like you want to explore a hobby. That is fine.
It is important to do what feels right to you to take care of yourself—whether that looks like cleaning out your closet or reading a book; holding your puppy or taking an online class or doing nothing at all. There is no contest to see who “pandemics best.” Give yourself the care you need and know that may look different than what others are doing.