June 2, 2020
By Lisa Keane
Special to The Alabama Baptist
Recently, I have felt myself comparing our current COVID-19 reality to the half marathon training I used to do. The best word of advice I ever received in training was to take one step at a time and remember to conserve energy for the miles ahead. I feel like in these days of experiencing the impact of COVID-19, similarly, it is best for us to take each day as it comes and try to pace ourselves well.
Can feel exhausting
I remember feeling so overwhelmed in those days of training, and the miles ahead felt too daunting to think about. As our worlds and schedules are shut down and we do not know exactly where the finish line even is, it can feel exhausting at times. I think it’s important to recognize that we are not running a sprint right now, but a marathon.
Personally, I am feeling the exhaustion of this marathon. My temper is shorter, I’ve felt more anxious, and my sleep has been disrupted. It has been vital that I remind myself I am having a very normal reaction to a set of very abnormal events. The novelty of working from home, kids being out of school, and schedules being cancelled, has worn off.
Take breaks when needed
I also have had to remind myself that we are in a long game right now where we must make sure we are taking care of ourselves for the long journey, not just for today. But what does that mean?
I think it means we don’t try and get all the work done today. We take breaks when we need to take breaks. We drop what we are doing and connect with a friend over video chat. We do the things that bring us life and fill us up in this uncertain time.
I also think it means we need to be very kind to ourselves right now.
If you have kids at home, give yourself some compassion and grace for this moment and time. You do not have to be the perfect home-school mom or the most creative with activities. Some days the goal will be just to make it to bedtimes without one or a few meltdowns. That does not make you a bad parent.
This is so new to all of us and we are facing such abnormal circumstances. We must offer ourselves grace. There will be days when our hope wanes and we have meltdowns ourselves (meltdowns are not just for kids).
Allow yourself to grieve all that is happening.
Don’t shame yourself for those feelings, but rather allow yourself to feel them.
Find a trusted person with whom you can share those struggles.
One step you can also take in this marathon is to plan ahead.
- Make sure you have things to look forward to on your calendar in this season — ordinary things like a small group meeting online, a webcast or a phone call/video chat can make a big difference.
- Sit down one night and plan out the next few days if you have kids at home. Make sure you have all the materials or items needed to do some different activities. If you plan ahead, you are much less likely to be stressed figuring out what to do.
- Develop a good routine that includes physical activity, down time, no screen time and meal planning each day.
You cannot take care of those around you if you are not taking care of yourself well.
And make sure you are feeding your soul with God’s word, an uplifting podcast or a good friend who can speak truth into your life right now.
We can make it through this marathon if we run it together. Lean on each other and let’s cheer one another on during this season.
There may be days you need someone to speak encouraging words over you to keep running and keep going forward.
And some days you may feel like quitting because this race feels too overwhelming.
Remember, give yourself grace and just take it one step at a time. We are praying the finish line is not too far away.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Faith & Family is a bimonthly look at important spiritual, cultural and relational issues facing today’s families.
For more articles on contemporary topics like these, go to PathwaysProfessional.org/blog.
Lisa Keane (MAMFC, LPC-S, NCC, Registered Play Therapist Supervisor) is clinical director of marriage and family for Pathways Professional Counseling, a sister ministry of Alabama Baptist Children’s Homes & Family Ministries.