Last week, life as I knew it, stopped. I have to admit, I was not exactly pleased when my office announced that we’d all be working remotely for what sounded to me like an indefinite period of time. My anxiety level was at an all-time high in the days leading up to the decision, as the news reported that more and more people on Long Island started to test positive for COVID-19 and the grim reality that the virus was in my backyard crept in.
Seemingly overnight, it felt like the whole world was facing a shutdown. Lots of sleepless nights ensued as worry about embracing a new routine and facing future uncertainty emerged. With every ding my iPhone emitted, more bad news came to light. I knew early on that I would need to limit my time on social media and listening to the news, if I stood any chance of retaining my sanity during the pandemic.
At first, I was nervous about working from home. Isolation during the workday was one thing, but feeling isolated 24/7? I knew that would be enough to send my anxiety into overdrive. So, on my very first day of working remotely, I made a conscious effort to keep my routine as “normal” as possible and to occupy myself by writing out a to-do list. Soon, my fears were eased a bit as I jumped into work and kept myself busy responding to emails. I made sure to schedule phone time with friends, FaceTime calls with those far away, and time to exercise and get some fresh air. By the end of my first week working remotely, I had gotten myself into a productive pace.
While I had anticipated feeling isolated, lonely, or even sad in the midst of all of this chaos (which are all feelings I have experienced from time-to-time while practicing social distancing), the feelings I had neglected to anticipate during this crisis were the ones that most surprised me. Please hear me when I say that I don’t want to romanticize what the world is going through in any way, because people have lost lives, doctors and nurses are battling to treat patients around the clock, grocery stores are sold out of everything, and the number of infected patients seems to climb daily.
But if I could offer some perspective, it would be this…
I will forever cherish a hug from a friend or loved one, because I know what social distance feels like.
I will appreciate small-talk with a stranger, because I know what isolation is.
I will embrace catching up with old friends, because I know that life is short.
I will spend more time listening, because I know what anxiety can do.
I will treat friends like family, because when I need them, I know they’ll be there.
I will take in the quiet moments in life, for I know they won’t always be present.
As we all cope with our new normal in whatever way feels right for us, this time has served as an important reminder for me that the world will still exist even if I slow down; it has shown me that I can only control my own physical and emotional wellbeing; it has made me even more grateful for the people the Universe has placed along my path in life; and it has reiterated to me the importance of coming to grips with uncomfortable emotions that I’d often choose to drown out with external stimuli rather than embrace.
Knowing that we are all in this together has certainly helped me keep my emotions in check, as has knowing that I have such a caring and supportive community both here and on Instagram to get me through these challenging times.
I hope you are all doing and staying well—both emotionally and physically.