When the pandemic began in March 2020 my friend said to me “I think we’ll be back to normal by June.”
Now my scientific understanding of pandemics is pretty limited, but I didn’t agree. Deep down I was thinking: “This will take two years.”
Expecting the worst-case scenario probably helped me to deal with the uncertainty because I was accepting that it was going to be part of my life for a long time. And here we are, 16 months later and we still haven’t shaken it off.
In fact, we’re now being told to ‘learn to live with Covid’.
I will never get used to it fully though. It hurts every time I make a plan – to see family or friends – and it gets cancelled, either because of restrictions, symptoms or isolating.
I knew I could never accept that this is the way life is forever. That we will all work from our homes and not interact in person. That we can’t sidle up to a friend at the bar for a chat. That we can’t travel freely and without fear.
We’ve had to accept things as they are. Because we can’t control it, can we?
A helpful way to cope is to think about the things that are certain. For the parents (or big kids) out there, there is a line in a Frozen 2 song which goes: “Like an old stone wall that will never fall, some things are always true.” And I think you can take a lot from this.
Just look around you. Amidst the turmoil you might be feeling on the inside, around you there are things which are steady, that are always there. Trustworthy and strong. Walls, photos, furniture, a roof over your head, the sky outside the window.
And there are things you can control. This may be why I’ve thrown myself wholeheartedly into my new business venture, and why I take a lot of care in planning our family’s meals for the week. These are the positive things within my control which give me joy.
Actually, the pandemic has given us a lot. We’re more aware of what’s important in life – both as individuals and as society more broadly. I feel more settled being at home all the time than I ever thought I could be. Like many, we now have a routine and rhythm to our life which is entirely different to before, but which works. For now.
I have also realised what is non-negotiable for me: family gatherings. When this is all over, I will never take them for granted again.
Until then, I will continue focusing on the good things – the things I enjoy that are in my control so that no matter what the future holds, today is a good day.
Jo is running the Bristol Half Marathon on 19 September in aid of Bristol Mind. Sponsor her here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jo-samuel2
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