“How are you doing?”
I frequently ask my 14-year-old daughter this question. Just like most of us, her normal routine has been completely upended. Before the stay-at-home order, she was an eighth-grade volleyball star preparing for nationals with her team. Unfortunately, her team’s hard work quickly stopped, and my daughter went from school and seeing friends on a nearly daily basis to only seeing mom and dad. She’s pretty adaptable, but my wife and I also know this time can bring on new anxiety for her… and frankly, for all of us.
As we’ve been in this situation for some time now, I’ve become much more aware of the effect this can have on anyone at any time. While checking in with co-workers, friends and family across the country, I’ve seen their anxiety manifest in different ways. Even though we are all impacted by this pandemic, our experiences are vastly different. The important thing is that we take care of and encourage each other however we can.
Spend meaningful time together
Extracurricular activities have been cancelled, restaurants are essentially closed, and the entertainment industry has come to a screeching halt. It’s easy to focus on all that we can’t do right now and to let that sense of loss overwhelm us. Instead, I encourage you to spend these new-found hours strengthening your family bonds.
To help support our family’s mental health, I have been sharing my hobby of smoking meat with my daughter and wife. Smoking meat can sometimes require an entire day, so with the extra time at home, I have explored this pastime even more and have given everyone a job. I am responsible for the smoke, which is a true artform to get it just right, my wife is the rub master and Piper comes in to wrap the meat.
This has given me time to really get to know my wife and daughter again in a fun way. Before this happened, we were all so busy trying to manage through the day. Now we are much bigger players in each other’s lives. I’ve learned so much more about what’s important to them and how they process the world through long conversations over the smoker.
It’s OK to not be OK
The past few weeks have been traumatic and overwhelming at times. From our family conversations, I’ve learned it is OK, and important even, to feel these powerful emotions. This situation, and all that comes with it, is a lot to process. We need to give ourselves, co-workers, friends and families the space, and if needed, the go-ahead, to explore these intense feelings.
In our household, spending increased time together has led to meaningful conversations as we deal with our reality and the emotions that come with this pandemic.
Same Storm. Different Boat.
As we prepare for more change with our cities and states reopening, anxiety may be even higher with so many unknowns around us. We’re all experiencing a different life right now because of this pandemic.
Now, more than ever, is the time to be mindful of how we spread compassion and empathy. Ask the people in your life how they are feeling. Take the time to have conversations that will help everyone understand we’re experiencing the same storm—we’re just in different boats. Most importantly, remember the storm will end. While we may not know when, we will all weather this together.
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