As the hold of the pandemic seems to loosen its grip on us in summery South Africa, and our government’s regulations slowly ease up, we may feel that we have seen the worst of the pandemic. I too have felt this.
But then on Monday, by mid-morning, it feels like I have lived through an entire workweek. The demands on our team seem to have escalated and it is only the start of February. It seems that we are already overwhelmed, in the deep end, with projects escalating and work coming out of our ears. We want to achieve so much; we want to move forward. We have lost so much time. We want to make it all happen. We have so many new dreams, unleashed by all that thinking and pondering during lockdown. Or we have time to make up. Lost time. And money to earn. Lost earnings.
And at the same time, we are not ourselves. We are not who we used to be. We are not entirely sure who has emerged from lockdown. We are not entirely sure who we’re married to anymore and who our colleagues are either. We have all emerged, morphed, like butterflies or moths from hibernation into this new season, which is not quite new yet either.
We are still faced with so much uncertainty. Can we plan our next holiday? Can we start thinking of in-person events for our clients? Would we need four vaccines to travel overseas? Can we let go of the money anxiety which still grips us from the initial hard lockdowns?
And we are all, in some way, still suffering. We are grieving the loss of precious years of childhood or student life or worse, people we have lost. We are working our way through trauma. Our nervous systems are still on high alert. Our bodies, minds and spirits are not cooperating with what we might want them to do yet. There’s an underlying tension and exhaustion, which is exposed when the pace picks up or the demands escalate.
In a message from a group of general practitioners to their patients, these doctors acknowledged that we are only starting to scratch the surface of the impact of this pandemic: namely long-term, permanent and debilitating side effects for some of those who had it; as well as severe mental health consequences, ranging from anxiety, depression and phobias to more serious illnesses; not to mention broken relationships and damage to our social fabric because of the division the ideology caused or showed up. There is hardly a household that can say that they have been left unscathed.
On Monday afternoon I made an SOS call to my fellow sisters-in-distress. Let’s go for a cold swim. There’s nothing quite like washing away the distress of a too-much day by dipping in the freezing Atlantic Ocean. One of these sisters always says that there is nothing that cold water can’t wash away, and help you forget, if only temporarily. Cold water and shared burdens, a few laughs and an hour in the sparkly late afternoon sun, was all it took for me to feel revived and ready for the rest of the week.
Of course, it’s not all I do. And we may have to do more. A new therapist. A fresh look at your financial planning. A different approach to exercise. Even serious medical intervention or a long sabbatical. Rebuilding friendship groups or reaching out to new ones. Rekindling family relationships. We must actively restore what the pandemic has destroyed.
Whatever it takes, you’ll first have to admit that you need help or change, and seek it. And then keep that SOS kit ready. For those days, when we’re still not quite 100% ready for this new world.
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