Caretaking the Caretaker During the Covid Calamity

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Since the beginning of the Covid Calamity I have carefully avoided humans while living and working. I have cabin fever. And a little anger every once in a while. Being a caretaker myself I realized this would be a marathon that I would win by finishing. Being there at the end was the gold ribbon.

So how would I get there? I tuned to three things; pacing myself, accepting that my life would be different, and pursuing the things I could do. I often have to force myself to begin a task but after five minutes I get caught up and feel better.

Pacing myself is a two-fold operation. There is pace for my mental health and a pace for my physical health. For my mental health I decided that I must accept the situation without fear and anger. I stopped looking for a miracle fix. I wanted movies with happy endings like a Lifetime movie.

For my physical health I decided to take walks outdoors in rain or shine, cold or hot. This was also really good for stress and cabin fever. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday are weight bearing, Pilates, or some other physically demanding exercise. Cleaning the house or mowing the lawn gave me a sense of normalcy along with physical exercise.

Acceptance may be the most difficult. I just want to have the freedom of movement I took for granted. I want to hug my daughter whenever she stops by but safety stops me. We have decided on an air hug that I now feel when she wraps around the empty air where I would be.

I have had to have delivery of many items I used to run into the store and grab. I ordered groceries and chose cherry jam for five deliveries. I have gotten all kinds all kinds of jam except cherry. My new acceptance has opened me up many flavors of jelly that I would never have enjoyed.

I committed to spending time thinking about what I can do instead of being angry about what I could no longer do. Dining out was taken away so I cook super meals and bake bread. Projects I would ‘get to’ I finally did. 25 years ago I shot video of the Atlanta Ballet and Georgia Tech putting on a performance. I kept saying I would ‘get to’ it and this year I did.

I hear people say they want to go back to normal. I have been reminded that every day is a new normal with or without a pandemic. Next year’s normal will be very different than this year’s. Life does not sit still nor should you.

Do what you can in today’s normal and leave the old normal alone.

Mental Health and Coping with Stress

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