The Many Flavors of Pandemic Reactions: advice for whatever Pandemic Mood you’re in today

Lately it’s been feeling like a Jackpot Wheel of reactions I’m going to have to our new coronavirus normal of 2020. Each day I wake up to endless possibilities of different ways I can stay inside. Because it’s been such a roller coaster for me, I’m just outlining some of the various moods I’ve found myself in during all of this. For the time being, I can laugh as I write this. Maybe you’ll even be able to figure out which mood I’m in right now. But I think the biggest takeaway is that we are all coping in this shared traumatic experience, and you WILL feel like your neighbor feels somewhere down the line. Maybe today your friend is annoying you because they’re being super productive in order to cope, and you can’t fathom the fact that they’re still focused on work. Or maybe YOU are trying to finally do some work and your friend is acting like the world is ending. I think we all need to trust in this shared experience, and allow whatever comes up to come up (besides violence, total denial, harm, and racism please). Allow wherever you are at to be your truth today, and try to allow those around you to cope however they are coping.

Genuinely Wanting to Help the World

We all want to do something. There is so many ways to help others right now and if you’re up for it, find one that fits your skillset and your desire. Childcare, making masks, supporting restaurants, crisis hotlines, shopping for people who can’t leave their homes, helping people file for unemployment, etc. Go you! It feels great to help others, and there are plenty of opportunities right now. Go get ‘em!

So Bored You Might Actually Die

I didn’t know what this felt like until yesterday. My friend had mentioned it to me and I tried to comfort her, but because I’m introverted I had been enjoying my inside time. But it finally washed over me and I felt like I would actually die of boredom. I even googled it. I was so depressed and so achey and sad and tired but couldn’t even bring myself to do anything. Nothing sounded appealing, nothing sounded worthwhile, and I stared off into space for a long time. It was a really hard day. Wishing you as few of these as possible.

Rage at all the Unfairness

If everyone else is not at the exact same level as annoyed as you are right now, they are the most infuriating humans to ever walk the planet. Oh, you’re having a nice productive day? Well, SCREW YOU. I’ve had several of these days now, but I’m able to laugh at them in retrospect. It is an unbridled rage that comes from deep within, and you just gotta let it pass through you. This IS unfair. This DOES suck. Everything is closed, the world is cancelled, people are dying, you’re stuck inside, everything sucks. Oh man does it suck. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, no matter if they’re coming from a kind place. Just say with all the patience you can muster “Listen, I really need to just be mad today. I know you want to fix this but I just need to feel it. I’m so mad at everything”. Obviously don’t take your rage out in harmful ways, but don’t bottle it up or try to be too positive. Let it come out, and go yell on a rooftop or outside if you can. It feels good.

Gratitude and Appreciation for What Truly Matters

I love these days! Taking a walk outside, being with our in-house loved ones, snuggling our pets, feeling embodied. It’s a beautiful feeling and I wish I could say it lasts forever but tomorrow will bring a new wave of different emotions. For today, celebrate your gratitude for this Earth and this time and bask in it. You’ll need to remember these days when you’re caught up in a different emotional spiral. They are fleeting, but feel amazing. Write about your gratitude, spend time with your loved ones, do something you’ve been wanting to do! Don’t even stress about getting work done today if it’s not bringing you joy. Go bask in the glory that is being alive.

Suddenly an Unlicensed Economist

It feels comforting to learn as much as you can about stocks, stimulus checks, unemployment rates, investments, etc. Maybe your day will be filled with reading about the 2008 recession and the bounceback, smartening up as an investor and protecting your finances! We all need a few people in our life who sort of know what’s going on, and maybe people will ask you for advice. Just keep in mind that no one can predict the markets, and even though advice tells people not to panic pull their stocks, it’s still going to happen. Set a time limit for yourself, and only check on your stocks once a day (if you must). This is going to be a long road. Also remind yourself that your anxiety might not be stemming from the money, but that your anxious brain is clinging to something it can understand and put a number on.

Suddenly an Unlicensed Health Professional

It feels good to feel like you know what’s going on, and maybe you know some actual healthcare professionals. I totally understand wanting to know as much as you can about this disease. Try to limit yourself in how much you’re reading and how much you’re projecting your own health outcomes. It’s great to be informed and it can help you feel prepared, but just remember that there are real professionals who will tell you what you need to do if the time comes. Listen to the CDC, support healthcare workers however you can, and stay inside if/when your mental health allows for it. Knowing the ins and outs of the disease may help prepare you, but it can also heighten your fear. I totally resonate with wanting to know more. Just set a time limit.

Ultra Weirdly Productive (Work Version)

Keep in mind that you might be one of the most annoying people on the planet to other people today. I’ve been there. All of a sudden you feel like you can use this time to get ahead on your work, to settle in to the new normal, to finally have time to perfect your projects in peace. These days are truly a gift and can feel really good. Just keep in mind how it feels when you’re in a different mood and a coworker is in this mood. It feels pretty bad to watch other people be super productive when you’re struggling. So relish in your own productivity and be proud of yourself, but just try to remember that eventually this will pass and you’ll be feeling something else. Be kind to one another, and know that you are not expected to be super productive during a shared traumatic experience.

Ultra Weirdly Productive (Cleaning/Home Improvement Version)

MIGHT AS WELL CLEAN MY ENTIRE HOUSE RIGHT? Gear up, you’re about to find so many different things you can clean and organize! Put on some music and get going. It gives a sense of control, a sense of accomplishment, a sense of calm, and an activity to do. Try to make sure it doesn’t slip over into a desperate need to have control over something, and just try to allow yourself to feel like you wanna clean today. It does help, and it’s actually a therapy skill called “building mastery” (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). You feel a sense of empowerment over your environment that you’re now confined to, and it helps you regain stability. Good luck, and don’t forget the back of the fridge.

Actually Scared, of Everything

Touching anything is terrifying, the tickle in your throat is terrifying, the governments and economies crashing around you is terrifying, the future is terrifying, there is nothing good about today. Allow this. I read recently something that said “when I feel a lot of fear, I say to it ‘I agree, I agree’ ”. It weirdly resonated with me. Just like a child who is scared of loud noises or going to the doctor, they have every reason to be scared! How scary it must be to be you right now! You’re not crazy, the world is scary, and also this is temporary. Allow the feeling to wash through you, and treat yourself like you would a small child asking if they’re gonna get hurt from the virus. The world is scary right now. This will pass.

Slightly Manic Self-Care Spa Day

It’s only slightly manic okay? I hope you’re feeling good and feeling relaxed and ready to do some skin care, cooking, or creative work. Today is your day to radically take care of yourself. To nurture and care for yourself and try to ease some of the stress you’ve been feeling. You need this, you deserve this, you can allow this. No matter what else is going on today, if you’re feeling like you just need some love, I hope you find it today. I suggest the YouTube channel Ambient Worlds, some candles, a book or some artwork, some yummy foods, and maybe some Netflix. Tomorrow will bring a whole new barrage of emotions, so enjoy this day today.

Wishing People Would Care about Social Justice Issues and also Burn Down Capitalism

Why don’t people care this much about the environment? Why do we still have people locked up by ICE? Why are we letting our most vulnerable people die? There are deep, deep, issues in our political structures and it’s literally devastating. Mental health is plummeting, people are starving, People of Color will be disproportionately punished for being outside, trans people are postponing gender surgeries and treatments, and disabled people are getting screwed over! I like to mix this mood with Unbridled Rage. A few things I can suggest are to sign up for a Crisis hotline if you have the bandwidth, donate money if you have it, advocate to your local governments, support local restaurants, support those around you, and just offer as much kindness as you can right now. But also yeah, this sucks. I can say we could hope for a new world understanding and some revolutionary shifts, but I imagine there will be a mix of both revolution and denial. Hang in there.

Total Silliness (bust out the TikToks)

Let this one ride! There is so much entertainment online right now, and if you can get yourself to dance or make silly voices, you’re gonna have a great time. I have perfected my Gollum impression and have listened to the same songs over and over again on an infinite loop. I’ve ran through my apartment screaming “I’M WIIIIILD, I’M A WILD BEAAAAST!!! WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE, IT’S ME, I’M WILD!” and other ridiculous things. Just let this one flow.

It Will All Be Over Soon

It might be, or it might not be. If you’re feeling this sense of calm optimism today, I hope you have a lovely day. Don’t get too hung up on waiting for an official timeline though. If you have peace in yourself and hope for when our world will start bustling again, hold on to that warm feeling and think about all the wonderful things you’re going to get to do when the world opens again! Try not to be too disappointed if it takes way longer than you thought, but use this mood to make your After Quarantine List. I’m getting a tattoo, a mohawk, and entering a 10K race. How about you?

Conspiracy Theorist

What if coronavirus isn’t even real? I am not condoning the ridiculous spread of misinformation or accusing governments of crazy cover-ups or biomedical weapons. But I’ve definitely had a few days where the thought has occurred to me! For this mood, I suggest talking to your friends and laughing at the absurdity of it, and then doing some fact checking online. To save you the trouble, yes it’s actually real and no it’s not a bioweapon. There’s a possibility that various countries have underreported their values but that could also just be due to how little we know about this virus. Entertain the ideas in your mind, then go watch Ancient Aliens to get it out of your system or something.

Mysteriously OVERsocialized

Join my Zoom chat! Join my online workout class! Join my virtual study session! Let’s hang out on Zoom! ZOOM. ZOOM. LET’S VIDEO CHAT HANG OUT. LET’S DO NETFLIX PARTY. LET’S FACETIME. Dear lord I’m gonna throw my computer in the trash. How is it that when we are not allowed to see each other, my world is suddenly filled with requests to virtually hang out? I’m laughing as I write this, because of course it’s wonderful we can all connect. But seriously, I’ve always hated video calling and I don’t wanna talk to you. My advice, just say no.

Wherever you’re at, I recommend the “RAIN” method towards your feelings, your mood, and yourself.

Recognize. Allow. Investigate. Nurture.

Recognize how you’re feeling, allow it to happen even if it’s scary (you gotta feel what you’re feeling eventually!), investigate why you’re feeling that way or what you might need to comfort yourself, and then nurture yourself and maybe others around you who need it.

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