We asked a number of our readers to tell us how they faced isolation and managed to “keep sane” in this new reality. Here are some of their responses:
I have never had much of a green thumb. In fact, I once killed a cactus and another time an air plant, despite my best efforts! However, with everything becoming more and more difficult to get, I thought it would be good start a vegetable garden. I planted lettuce, cucumbers, green onions, peas and beans in my kitchen where I get the best sunlight. Slowly, I started watching my seeds sprout — which is very exciting to see when you are cooped indoors every day. My new challenge is now keeping them alive. I found out after my seeds started sprouting that I was over ambitious and started the process too early in the season. My family are now taking bets as to how many I will kill and I have been spending time researching how to keep them alive in order to replant them outdoors once the weather permits. Hopefully I will have some fresh vegetables growing in my backyard this summer, but I have a feeling it may be just short of a miracle if I do.
The best thing for me was creating a schedule. With multiple meetings online by Zoom it was important to balance the screen time, so I would either take a walk by the river or take a nap. I would “schedule” time for reading, and schedule time for daydreaming. Mindfulness is likely the best word to describe this crazy time. The first 3-4 weeks were insane with changes to my schedule, meetings by Zoom, etc, and being part of shared ministry doubled that workload. Maintaining or strengthening boundaries, taking walks when time and weather allowed. Taking afternoon naps without guilt. Doing the best I could. At the end of each day as I would crawl into bed I’d give thanks for the day and remind myself that I did my best. Because really, that’s all any of us can do.
Something Old/ Something New:
I introduced quite a few people in the parish to the Zoom app, it brings joy to my heart when some one in their 80s refers to ‘zooming’ without the help of their grandchildren. I also found the time to put some jigsaw puzzles together. I finally got my sewing machine set up, one that I had purchased three years ago to replace my 40-year-old Sears machine. I had to watch three YouTube videos to thread the bobbin and another two to figure out how to thread the machine. When I made my first ‘mask’ I broke a needle. So I had to watch another video to figure out how to replace it. I have found myself cooking all the recipes my mother cooked when we were growing up, those things you can’t find in modern cookbooks but remind me of a different time and place, a place that brings comfort along with the memories. Personal prayer has kept me centered and I have stayed connected with the faith community on line through Facebook and other social media. I marvel at the concept of connecting with Bishop Susan every Sunday, when in history has any bishop been able to connect with all the people within their diocese at the same time? We are truly in ‘uncharted’ waters.
Being, Blessed, Breathe:
As an extrovert, being isolated at home and not being amongst lots of people is foreign to me. I am blessed not to be alone. I have a partner who is also working from home. Regular zoom check-ins with colleagues and my Spiritual Director are helpful. Sharing our fun, insights and frustrations helps life feel more normal. Being creative has also been very therapeutic. Whether I am painting a rock with encouraging thoughts with the youth group or knitting socks in the evening, it feels good to create something with my hands. Time for prayer and reflection on what God might be bringing out of this time is key and remembering to just breathe.
The Masked Singer :
Prior to the pandemic I simply washed my hands quickly when needed. Now, I have a timer set on my phone for every 3 hours (but not past bedtime) and I wash while I sing the Lord’s Prayer. It takes longer than singing happy birthday 2x. I connect to God this way. Another thing I am doing is making masks. It is important to be safe, even though a mask may not be necessary it seems to help people feel safer. I give the masks away. They seem to be landing in the hands of nurses, truck drivers, store workers and a few seniors who are scared to be out.
Knitting or crocheting baby outfits and shawls for the hospital keeps me content for countless hours. Jigsaw and crossword puzzles and gardening have kept my husband occupied.
While I know without a doubt that Jesus has saved my soul I also know that in this time of self-isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic it has been organizing which has saved my sanity. If the good Lord had not called me to a Priestly ministry I would have become a professional organizer. There is nothing that gives me more satisfaction and that oddly calms me and excites me at the same time than organizing things. I love taking a drawer/closet/room and pulling everything out, culling all the unnecessary bits and then organizing everything left in a way that makes it easy to find and use. I can get lost for hours finding the right storage container or unit and wrangling the mess there into a harmonious usable space. In this time of anxiety and uncertainty the fact that I moved into my home only a few months ago and so there are so many drawers and rooms that need organizing has been an absolute blessing for which I am truly thankful.
The Ordinary :
How I stayed sane (for the most part) through the pandemic of 2020. I work in a school as an Educational Assistant and am lucky to be working from home. It has helped because I am one who needs routine and I still have one. I set my alarm, get up, workout, shower, have some breakfast and then walk to work — in my dining room. However what really keeps me sane is the video chats with the youth and young adults in our diocese and of course worshipping on line with my church family and the diocese. Try and stay safe and positive as this is all new to all of us!! Peace and virtual hugs.
Routines have kept me sane throughout the most stressful times of my life (wedding planning, toilet training, work deadlines, now a pandemic). Routines in my life have given structure to upside-down days and stabilized me to keep me productive. For me, routines have been life-giving. When the world started turning sideways in early March, when there were rumours of people buying up cases of tuna and bags of rice, I didn’t pay much attention. Why? Because I believe in routines: I routinely stock my shelves with what we need. My shopping routines had taken care of us all these years so why would I need to act differently? Routines express the priorities in our lives. Doing daily devotions, brushing teeth, getting dressed first thing in the morning and going to bed before eleven — each marks the rhythm of every day, pandemic or not. When society added regular hand-washing and safe-distancing to these routines, it was still the cup of tea with a cookie before bedtime that strengthened me for whatever happened the next day. Extra time at home gave me time to call up an old friend or try a new recipe. Routines allow God’s love to respond in the new rhythm of life during COVID-19, putting God’s love on the front lines.