Hey, Dads (and WordPress readers)!
Sorry for the lack of updates, but as you can imagine things are crazy right now.
I, like many of you, am feeling the effects of the corona virus in my life. These last few weeks were already going to be difficult-new job, fixing up our house to sell it, finding a new place to live-but I never expected the anxiety levels to be this high!
For starters, our daughter is a premature baby under the age of 12 months. Covid-19 could be devastating if she were to be exposed to it. I would be devastated as a parent if I knew I was the one who exposed her! So my wife and I have taken the precautions we can to try to protect her, but with something this serious and unknown there’s no guarantee that we can prevent it.
There are also the economic consequences. This may the worst time to try to sell a house or buy one, and we cannot afford to pay two mortgages. Up until this week I wasn’t certain that I would actually have a job to pay for anything! Thankfully, my start date has not changed. What has changed is that from day one I will be working from home, on-boarding and all, which comes with a variety of other anxieties.
Social distancing is another matter entirely. The country has never seemed more divided at a time when we really need to come together, spiritually not physically. Physical distancing is what we should really call it. There are many great ideas on how to stay connected. But I worry that in a time when we are already suffering from a pandemic of misinformation that we’re licked when it comes to doing what we need to do slow the spread of Covid-19. It’s one thing to disagree on policy, it’s another to disagree on facts.
So what have I been doing to cope with all of this? Let’s start with the simplest thing, knowing what I have control over and what I do not. Simple but not always easy. For one, I can make sure I wash my hands, I cannot make other people wash theirs. There is not point at being angry at other people for how they choose to deal or not deal with this pandemic. It’s out of my control, and it’s out of your control. The sooner you accept that the sooner you can focus your time and energy on what you can do.
I have tried to maintain a schedule, minus a few late hours trying to finish working on our house to get it ready to list, by going to bed and waking up at my regular times. Sleep is essential to good mental and physical health.
It has been difficult to unplug, but if the news or social media is stressing you out, turn it off, put it away and spend some quality time with your family. Play a board game. Cook together. Learn to tie knots! Anything is better than obsessing over something that is out of your control. Staying glued to your news feed may seem comforting, because we all thirst for information when facing an unknown situation, but drinking from a fire hose is a bad idea.
Know that this is temporary. It doesn’t mean things will go back to the way they were, but chances are we will have different things to worry about a year from now. In the meantime, I am trying to do today the things I need to do to set myself up for success in the future. Work out more if you have the free time. Learn how to cook and eat healthy, it’s not like we’re going out to eat all the time right now. Keep saving money and investing for retirement if you are fortunate enough to have a job today. Teach yourself something new if you suddenly find yourself with a lot of free time. And most importantly, hang out with your family. Take care of them. They need you right now and you, as a Dad, are the person who can comfort them in scary times.
I see a lot of jokes about being stuck at home with the family, but trust me, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be in your children’s lives. Don’t waste it worrying about things that in the end will not be as important. No man says, “I wish I had worked more hours” on his death bed!
Meditate. Pray. Take a nap. Do whatever it is you need to unwind (just a heads up, drinking increases anxiety) that improves your mental health. Write, even if you have never written before. Sit in a quiet place and record voice notes on what you are thinking and feeling. As soon as you bring it to the surface, you have a chance to identify what you are afraid of, whether it is worth fearing, and if there is anything you can do about it. Reflect on the moment. Step back and then you can calmly take action to resolve it. If you can do anything, then know that! The best thing one can do when it is raining is to let it rain.
This is going to be a trying time for all of us. I know that it has been for me, but I also believe that we will come out stronger on the other end of it. This is a time to practice humility, compassion, and gratitude. Everyday is a gift, don’t waste it.
Now listen to this great song by Toad the Wet Sprocket and relax.