Balance and Grace During a Quarantine
Not long ago, I wrote about how surviving a natural disaster helped me find balance and gain perspective about what was important. I now find myself in a similar yet different situation. I am encountering a disaster, yes, but this time I’m not escaping my home, I’m confined to it. During Hurricane Harvey, I was a small percentage of people whose lives were interrupted. Now, everyone on the planet has had their lives turned upside down. We are all in the same boat, and as my friend said, I really hope its the Ark and not the Titanic!!
I keep hearing quarantine life described as the “new normal.” However, there is nothing normal about social distancing, replacing a hug or a handshake with a wave from 6 feet away. There is nothing normal about being confined to your house, only venturing out for essentials while wearing a mask that conceals a friendly smile. There is certainly nothing normal about having to share your wedding, a child’s birth or Heaven forbid a funeral via social media. Google defines normal as “the usual, average, or typical state or condition,” but I just can’t accept this as average. It is very unusual, atypical, and abnormal.
I have come to accept this as our reality for now and learning to adjust, as is everyone. What is helping me manage and keep my sanity is balance and grace (for others and myself). It hasn’t come quickly or easily. March 5th was the last day my son attended school, and it’s taken me over a month to feel like I’m not going to break into 1,000 pieces.
When things started getting crazy, and school was first postponed, I attempted to make a very structured routine. Unfortunately, it caused a lot of tension and frustration. When I accepted that each day would look a little different than the one before and created a flexible routine balancing schoolwork, play, and downtime, it worked much better. I gave my son several choices, so he had some control over his day. I have lowered my expectations for what each day will look like and what needs to get done. We are all processing this a little differently, so a bit of grace, or sometimes a lot of grace, helps get us to the next day.
As cases of Covid-19 began increasing, I became obsessed with news feeds and numbers, which severely affected my mood. My mood was becoming unpredictable. I experienced anxiety and depression; I was irritable and beginning to make my family crazy. I finally began to decrease my time on news feeds and social media and increase time connecting with friends and family, listening to music, watching comedians, and being outside. I also took on some small projects, like putting up a bird feeder and birdhouse and some larger ones like launching a book. I found these activities, along with a lot of prayers, allowed me to be distracted or focused as needed, which helped keep my emotions and mood balanced.
Keeping things simple has been essential. I have been pleased with our school district’s instructional supports. My 2nd grader has one reading lesson and one math lesson per day. He chooses from a list, and we mark it off when he completes it. I have kept my “to-do” list as simple as possible and not been too hard on myself or my son when we don’t get it all done. We decide what is essential for each day and celebrate each accomplishment.
I have to confess, my level of fitness has decreased significantly, and the number on the scale has increased. I’ve given myself a grace period, but it’s has reached its expiration date. I’m working out a plan that incorporates more movement in our day. Movement not only helps me burn off the Nutter Butters and Oreos but also calms my mind; therefore, we started walking from our house to our pasture, and while my son rides his bike, I mow the grass. Surprisingly, mowing has turned out to be one of my favorite things to do. Sometimes I listen to a podcast or audiobook, or music, and sometimes I just think.
As the end of quarantine seems to be getting nearer, I wonder if things will ever be the way they were before. What will this period of living such abnormal lives teach us? What will we take from it? I hope I will be able to learn from this time and continue to make things simple and extend the gifts of balance and grace in future days.
I hope that you can find balance in your situation and give your family and yourself grace day by day or even hour by hour.