Aside from the grocery store or the chiropractor, it has been 27 days since I’ve left my house. We’ve been put into another stay-at-home order until the end of April and I imagine it’s going to stay this way for months still after that.
That first month, for me, was denial, depression and anger. It was disbelief and fear and questioning. It was grief at canceled plans and events, rage at an incompetent government and disbelief at the support it still receives. It was fighting for a return to normalcy, until I finally accepted that there is no return. Even when the orders are lifted and we’re allowed to leave our houses. Even when gatherings of more than those you live with resume and businesses reopen and travel continues and sports return; when the death toll stops rising and a vaccine is hopefully found.
There is no normal, after this.
I’m not sure when I consciously accepted this, but I think it is when I updated my daily routine on my calendar from what it used to be, to one that factored in remote work, and didn’t put an end date. And having that calendar, showing myself how I could still accomplish some of the things important to me–how my schedule was easily adjusted, even if my mental headspace has struggled–helped.
Yesterday, I realized that I could still make a To-Do list.
Like, just because the world is broken and everything is horrible right now and everything is different and terrifying…doesn’t mean that I can’t do something that helps me and grounds me so much as making a To-Do list.
Weirdly enough, this floored me.
It also helped me focus and get things done, when I’ve been struggling to do just that–which, by the way, is perfectly okay and a totally reasonable response that has no expiration date. In that vein, while I am using a routine and a To-Do list to help remind me of the tools I used to help structure my life Before, I am also doing things much differently.
Like not beating myself up that I’m sleeping in to literally minutes before I have to get up for work, just because the extra sleep right now helps.
Or how I don’t always do my hair every day and let myself wear sweats and T-shirts.
Or how sometimes I skip my workout to take a really long bath and scroll through Twitter.
Or how I’ll play video games more and stay up longer, because it’s one of the only things that takes my mind off of everything.
I think the most important thing right now is to listen to what YOU need. If you can’t be productive right now or pick up a new hobby, don’t listen to that pressure (and don’t give into it yourself)–even when it feels like everyone else is doing everything and more and while you’re just struggling to get out of bed. If staying productive helps distract you, do it–and don’t feel guilt when you’re able to be productive when it feels like everyone else can’t. If trying to find a way to blend what life was like Before with how life is like Now, like I’m doing, then do that.
The thing is: there is no right way to process and adapt to living not only in lockdown, but living amidst a global pandemic. We just gotta take it one day at a time. And if utilizing a fucking To Do List is bringing me enough joy to feel like I can conquer the day, then you bet I’m going to do it.
I hope you’re able to find things that help you feel like you can conquer the day, too.