“In these unprecedented times…”
That’s the way the sign at the grocery store started. It finished, “…we will not be providing rain checks for unavailable items.”
They could have started with “Beginning immediately…”, or “Due to circumstances beyond our control…”, or “Because your neighbors were terrified that they’d find themselves in need of enough toilet paper to last a nuclear winter…”.
But they didn’t.
They started with “In these unprecedented times…”
Because the times truly are unprecedented. It’s so incredibly different than anything that any of us have experienced. I could run through the laundry list of all the ways life has changed in the last few months, but it’s a list we’re already familiar with. How do we adjust to the new and unwanted normal?
I don’t know how you respond to unprecedented times, but I tend to make some bad decisions.
Had an unprecedented level of difficulty at work this week? Spend the weekend playing video games.
Nearly catch the kitchen on fire trying to brew beer? Put it out, and drive to McDonald’s to order some of everything.
Coming out of an intense period of depression and isolation? Invite everyone over. All. At. Once.
I don’t respond well to days filled with the new, unexpected, or unwanted. When they occur, my default reaction is to turn them into Treat Yo Self Days.
So it is that when life took a hard turn for the weird with the introduction of Covid, my immediate instinct was to throw out the healthy routines I’d spent months turning into habit, and give into temptation a little. A little more delivery over here, a little less exercising over there, a moderate reduction in daily grooming, a month or so in the same pajama pants.
Fast forward a couple months and the unprecedented times have become the norm, and so have the lack of daily healthy habits.
I know that I can’t be alone in this.
Here’s what I want you to hear, because it’s what I need to hear too:
1. You are not the only person who went a little off the deep-end when things hit the fan.
2. If you’ve spent any amount of time pursuing healing prior to Covid, all of that work is not negated. Progress is not linear.
3. If you’re living with a mental illness, it’s more important than ever to press into healthy routines.
And I want to zero in on that last point. People living with a mental illness are in an especially dangerous place right now. The connections we need to thrive have been stripped from us in the worst possible way. Some have lost jobs, and what once took up our time and attention has been replaced with hours and hours of monotony.
That means that those things which we were doing to lead healthier, happier, lives are not less important, but more important than ever.
Whatever it is that you’ve dropped in these unprecedented times, I encourage you (me) to pick it back up again, and with a vengeance.
Take that daily shower.
Go for that appropriately distanced walk.
Skip that extra drink.
Hit that bed earlier.
Skip that third pizza delivery this week.
This is an incredibly challenging and unprecedented time. The situation caught us off guard, hit us from behind, didn’t fight fair. From all accounts, it doesn’t appear to be relenting immediately. A lot of bad has already happened, and sadly is yet to happen, but let’s not leave this fight with more bruises than are required.