Pam Gruen – Coping in the time of COVID-19
Just before COVID hit, my mother-in-law came to visit us from New York, my aunt died in the hospital from stomach cancer, and my mom fell on the way in to the hospital to see my aunt, broke her hip, had hip surgery, and has been in a rehab facility until this week.
That’s how my COVID experience STARTED.
I was already having no luck job searching from being unemployed since last August and thousands just entered the job search. I’m terrified for all our parents in their mid-seventies, and for my husband and niece, who both have lung issues.
Despite all this, I’m blessed. My husband has been off with pay. My mother-in-law (MIL) is living with us until we’re more certain traveling through NYC to get back upstate won’t kill her. Mom is home now. We’re still dealing with my aunt’s death as well as possible, given that everyone is sheltering at home so none of her affairs have been resolved.
I struggle with boredom, feeling depressed, and being anxious and sometimes living with my MIL unexpectedly is challenging. Before COVID, I had also planned to go stay with mom, but with border patrols and shelter-at-home in place, travelling across the country alone is not an option (my brother lives near her, never fear).
How am I trying to cope?
I use the Headspace app. You have to pay for it, but you can get a free trial if you want to try it.
It’s easy to use and you can customize your meditations to do several sessions around a subject (my current pack is on Letting Go of Stress), join virtually with others for live meditations, or pick shorter meditations on different topics. You can also customize how many minutes you want to spend on some of the meditations.
There’s all kinds of free apps out there, though, from breathing to visualization.
If you’re interested in transcendental meditation, I like to let go to crystal bowl meditations on YouTube.
My brother-in-law bought me a subscription for DDPYoga and it’s been a lifesaver! DDP is a wrestler-led yoga/pilates/isometric workout that you can choose to do from a chair, with a chair, with a block, or unaided. I love the structure and the narrator, but the best part is that the moves have become the way I move, which has been wonderful for my back! Plus, I’ve lost fat and gained muscle! Again, not free, but totally worth it!
There are tons of free workout apps for phone and devices, plus cable shows you can record if you still cable. Search by topic like cardio, yoga, etc.
We also plan to break out the old Wii and boogie board to get some movement going on!
If group exercise is more your style, there are tons of videos of social distanced neighbors working out together.
There are also virtual group exercise classes, usually for pay, but I have never participated in any of those.
- Connect Virtually
I connected with my mom via an Alexa, which she loves!
We are going to have a virtual family dinner via Zoom for Easter/Passover.
We’ve been Facetiming with relatives in England and I’m messaging more friends on Instagram and Facebook, not to mention running text dialogues with close friends in other states.
Playing online games together or remotely playing role playing games (Dungeons and Dragons anyone?) is also a way to not feel so distant.
Part of staying healthy is taking care of yourself. I know this can be tough, but if you have to have alone time, like me, then this is not negotiable.
Pretend you have go #2 for a quick break anytime!
I love going out on our balcony and soaking up wind and sun, taking a few deep breaths.
A “little” extra shower time (or a soak in the tub if you’re into it).
A hot cup of coffee/tea.
Saying a little prayer.
- Find spaces outside/nearby to get away
My new favorite place to go now is the top floor of the parking garage.
It’s open to the sky with city views, but also trees, cool buildings, and on launch days I can watch a spaceship leave the planet!
My husband and I sneak up there at night for a few minutes alone and when I get really stir crazy, I put on my earphones and go up there and dance!
- Rediscover an old passion
Playing music, coloring, writing, reading, creating (jewelry/scrapbooks/furniture), gardening
I’ve been rediscovering all these loves, what are yours?
- If you feel bad all the time, GET HELP, please
When I suggested that my mom see a professional about her sister’s death, she said, “I’m not going to talk about my personal feelings with a stranger!”
I tried to explain to her that you take your car to a mechanic, and when you’re sick you go to the doctor, so when your mind is feeling bad, you to a mind doctor.
There are resources if you don’t have insurance including the National Institutes of Mental Health, online therapy, and local resources like community organizations with counseling services and local colleges that may offer services to the public on a sliding scale (look for psychology services).
To Everything There Is A Season
We aren’t used to all of this and it can be scary, but nothing lasts forever and this will pass too. We can’t choose what happens to us, but what we can choose is how we respond.
You got this! WE got this!