Right around mid-March, it seems like everything just sort of ...stopped. Suddenly school was closed. Trips were cancelled. Stores and restaurants eventually shut their doors, and most everyone was just home.
Fear of contracting a potentially deadly virus aside, the hardest part for me has been all the questions, the unknowns: How bad will this get? Will we have everything we need? Will everyone we love stay healthy? Will the kids ever go back to school? How will businesses survive (including ours)? As the mind-spiraling increases, so does the fear and anxiety.
Here I am, almost 6 weeks into this new-ish normal. Two things have helped keep the constant intrusion of worry at bay: Staying Present and Being Grateful.
Like I said, one of the worst parts of this whole experience has been the fear of what's to come, the endless what-ifs. Staying present is the intentional focus on one's immediate environment and experience. So instead of thinking "How long will Coco's daycare be closed? What are we going to do tomorrow, or next week, or even next month?" focusing on the book we're reading together right now, or the bubbles we're blowing, or the walk we're taking together. Engaging in each present moment as it occurs, instead of what will happen later. Staying present is crucial for seeing the positive in every little bit of this scary time, and making good memories as they happen. So turn off your brain, look around yourself, and engage in right now.
The second thing that has eased my mental struggle is the practice of gratitude. And for me, this really is a practice. When there is so much struggle and suffering, what is there to be thankful for? To answer that question, it's easiest for me to start small. Looking around me right now, I see my can of sparkling water. I am so thankful for this refreshing orange-flavored water! And we have a bunch more downstairs in the refrigerator! I am grateful that I have clean cold water to drink whenever I want. I also see a big tree in my yard outside. I am thankful for this big gorgeous tree with it's green leaves and visiting birds. And thinking a bit more broadly: my husband and I both have our parents and siblings living here in the same town, and ALL are healthy. Many people cannot say the same for themselves for both scenarios. The extent to which I can be grateful, for things big and small, is infinite. And it really helps to put all the chaos and hardship in perspective.
We will continue to face the constant change, the questions, and the confusion.
So I highly recommend that you stop, breath in the now and be thankful for it, because it's really all we've got.