This post is part of our special series on the Coronavirus outbreak.
So I’ve been kind of putting off writing this post, because I know it is an important topic, and my blog buddy Kate said it was a great idea and I absolutely should write it, but I also feel a bit vulnerable and overwhelmed and not sure if I am the right person to do it?
The title that has been rattling around my brain was something about “letting the light in” which felt very dramatic, but then when I literally had this blank blog template open and was avoiding starting it by looking at Instagram, one of my favorite follows @morganharpernichols posted this-
I don’t know if I believe in signs from the universe but I’m pretty sure this is a sign from the universe lolol. So, humbly, here are some things I’m doing, and some things I’m trying but not always successful at doing, to let the light in.
Connecting, but also giving myself time to be disconnected
I wrote a whole post about staying socially connected, and I am still being intentional about setting up chats outside of just work stuff. But honestly? I spend the majority of my workdays on video meetings right now, and its a lot. When it comes to weekends, I find myself turning into an actual boneless lump. For me, this isn’t a huge problem, as I have no partner or children who need me to function, which I know isn’t the situation for everyone. But all of us also need time to disconnect and recharge. For me, it is spending a whole weekend day with my phone on Do Not Disturb. For others, it might be asking your partner to handle the house while you go drive around alone for an hour. Letting myself disconnect when I need to, without guilt, makes the times that I do connect, like my joy-filled facetimes with my nephew River, even more precious.
Upbeat, brainless, and comforting entertainment
A lot of screentime is happening in my Atlanta apartment these days. And very little of it is prestige. When I’ve finally exited out of Teams and turned off my laptop I want to turn my brain off too. I keep going back to shows and movies in three categories:
- Fun Fluff – think comedies like Schitt’s Creek or Kim’s Convenience, or Asian rom-com shows which it turns out there’s a whole bunch of on Netflix.
- “Reality” TV – I haven’t fallen into the Love is Blind trap but The Circle has US, French, and Brazilian versions on Netflix and it is very interesting to see the differences and of course Nailed It and Rupaul’s Drag Race have new episodes.
- Comfort – rewatching through The West Wing currently, and I may or may not have watched the Keira Knightley Pride & Prejudice last night and then said “oh I’ll put it on again to fall asleep to, the soundtrack is so calming” and then fully watched it a second time into the wee hours of the morning *shrugs*.
One trick I’ve learned is that I’m particularly enjoying media not in English lately, because reading the subtitles forces me to put down my phone and stop trolling through the constant raging dumpster fire that is Twitter. And since the only other language I know is Latin (y’all I know, I’m a ridiculous person don’t ask lolol), there’s a literal entire world of entertainment available to me.
I did start Succession but I just wasn’t into watching selfish people fight at the moment. It will still be there after this is all over.
Not judging myself
This is a HARD ONE FOR ME. My internal critical voice is LOUD. But it is an actual, literal pandemic, and we are all doing our best. And even in the moments we aren’t doing our best? That is ok because it is an ACTUAL, LITERAL PANDEMIC.
My critical voice tells me I shouldn’t disconnect because it might hurt someone else’s feelings and I should want to be social all the time. But that’s not true, and I shouldn’t judge myself for needing down time.
My critical voice tells me I should be using this time to only cook the healthiest green foods and elaborate new recipes because I’m at home all the time and so there’s no excuse. But that’s not true, I am actually busier than ever with work, and I’m eating better than usual because I’m not picking up takeout all the time, and having only a piece of cake for lunch is fine and I shouldn’t judge myself.
An exercise my therapist (see next point) had me do recently was to start a list in my phone and write down every time my critical voice spoke up, and what it said. And it was actually shocking. She is RUDE. I’d never let anyone talk to my friends like that, so why do I let myself talk to myself that way? Becoming more mindful of it has helped me identify when she is lying and how to quiet her.
Asking for help
Another tough one. But it is an ACTUAL, LITERAL PANDEMIC and it is like nothing any of us have ever experienced. It is not only reasonable, but perfectly normal that we might need some extra support. I’m incredibly lucky to already have been working with a therapist, and I will shout from the rooftops that I think everybody should talk to a mental health professional at some point. I also fully recognize that my ability to do so is a massive privilege. This job is the first I’ve had in my whole life that included mental health benefits, which shouldn’t be the case. But thankfully, there are resources out there, including many new online therapy services that don’t require insurance, and in-the-moment critical services like the Crisis Text Line.
Even outside of professional services, just asking for help from my colleagues and friends has been more important now than ever. When I wanted to kick off this series here on the blog, but knew I didn’t have the content expertise or the capacity because of other work, Kate not only stepped in to write but coordinated a group of posts that are so varied and practical and encouraging and better than anything I ever could have pulled off alone. When my critical voice started to get loud about that piece of cake for lunch, I texted my best friend who replied “Yesterday after lunch I laid down on my bed and ate a whole candy bar and stared at the ceiling” and then later a coworker said “For dinner last night I ate a pizza in my hammock” and in those moments? I knew I wasn’t alone.
I don’t know if any of this is helpful for anyone else. I also don’t know that it has to be? Maybe it is enough that for a little while, we all stood together in a vulnerable place and saw each other and said “it’s ok.” My hope for all of us is that we keep finding ways to let the light in.
Check back in with the ClubX Blog often for more ideas and resources on how to maintain your mental and emotional well-being during this challenging time. Stay safe. Wash your hands. Take care of yourself. We are in this together!
Get the latest updates from BGCA at BGCA.net/Coronavirus, find programming ideas at MyFuture.net, like the BGCA Youth Development on Facebook for YD updates including video from Sarah, and join the brand new BGCA Youth Development Community also on Facebook to connect with other Club staff on programming through coronavirus.