How I currently feel and what I learn about myself in the lockdown

You read and hear very different reactions to the ongoing lockdown going from despair, breakdowns, fear to relaxation, quality time and relief not to be part of the ratrace anymore.

I realise that everyone's situation is quite different and we surely all go through different moods. While we might have been first optimistic about spending 2-3 weeks in our house, our mood cracks when we realise this is going to take much longer.  We feel helpless when seeing our friends and family being lonely or in more difficult situations and we can't do much to help them.

While I've embraced the crisis early march with panic attacks and tears, I seem to be dealing with it quite differently now.  My average sleep at night was above 8 hours a night previous week (sleep, not the time spent in bed) and my heartbeat in rest averages at 61 in April. It's never been as low. Seems like my body is physically the most relaxed in years.

So I wonder what is happening here:

1) I manage not to look forward in the future too much. 

We started all this with a time horizon of 3-5 weeks.  Mid March I believed at one time if we'd all stay in our house for 3 weeks, the virus with its incubation period of 2 weeks would be dead after that.  Slowly the awareness settled in that Corona would impact us for much longer, likely to well into 2021 but I try not to think too much about it.

I know that the virus can come in waves, that one lockdown might be followed by others later on this year etc.  The entire future seems uncertain. I don't carry much hope to go on vacation this year anymore and I sincerely doubt Beertje will attend school anymore and whether there will be any children's activities over summer. I try not to picture their disappointment when/if all camps will be cancelled.  But at this moment I try not to think about combining the care of the children full-time with full-time working for another 4-5 months.   I do not give cancelled trips much thought. Thinking about the long term future can be depressing but the truth is that I have no clue anymore what will happen. All is uncertain and it might be better or be worse.

Somehow I manage to focus on a 3-week horizon as we started.  It's manageable. We did it well previous week so surely we can repeat it next week. Why would the next days be so much worse than the previous ones. And then we'll see about the next one.

It's funny that I succeed because on other matters I'm quite strong on stressing on future uncertain things where I freak out on the potential worst case scenario that in the end probably isn't going to happen. So it makes me wonder why I so strongly can reject any thoughts and doubts this time.

2) I am an introvert without constant need of real life contacts. 

I feel best in a small group of people that I know well.  I'm not afraid to be in crowds and can enjoy concerts, festivals, etc... I can deliver training to a group of unknown people, can stand up in front of a crowd etc... But in the end I need to rebalance it with some quiet time to re-energise. If the children have been too busy, I go and fold some laundry and I drag the time in the bathroom.

I need to be in contact with people. I remember when working in a previous job 2 days at home per week that I felt lonely. When spending one month of recovery at home after surgery, I was going crazy from being stuck alone.  But this time I'm not alone at home. And colleagues and friends all do more effort to stay in touch. There is video calls on a daily basis with friends and colleagues for business reasons but also for social reasons.  All of a sudden 5 days of homeworking per week isn't as hard if you have constant interaction with your husband and children.  I realise how different this must be for all the people that live alone right now. I'd not want to be in their shoes. 

I've also always been quite comfortable with digital contacts. Jan has always lived part-time abroad since I met him and he still travels about 2-3 days per week. I don't live close to family and friends so I'm used to stay in touch with them digitally.  I must honestly admit I don't see any of them on a weekly basis so not seeing them in real life for a couple of weeks isn't so shocking to me right away.

But for me I seem to have sufficient social contact at this moment (and once again, I repeat, I'm not trying to see the long-term horizon in this right now).
of course I also still get outside of the house and I do make an effort to go and say hi on the sidewalk of some acquaintances in the neighbourhood. That also compensates the current lack of visits to friends and families right now.

(And don't get me wrong...the return to the office, those first BBQ's with friends, that first concert, that first visit, that first bar drink is going to be so fabulous!! )

3) My sources of stress and anxiety are linked to transport, other people and agenda pressure

If I feel more relaxed, I wondered why that is.  Currently a lot of my stress factors have disappeared.

I have an ongoing anxiety that is closely linked to transport ...and I'm not going anywhere so it's simply not there.  Secondly having a filled agenda with a lot of time pressure is an important factor of stress as well as conflicts.  The latter can still exist but due to the physical distance I can try to take more distance.

A lot of my fears are anticipative.  Fearing the fear or stress beforehand is often worse than the actual situation. So I must truly learn how I can pick up this first point and apply it in the rest of my life as I've been struggling a lot with this. Can I learn to live day by day, moment by moment and trust that things will not always come out for the worst? And that people will be supportive and understanding if needed (or that I shouldn't care what others think as much?)

4) My home with my family is my "safe place"

In the past when times got rough, withdrawing to my home and focussing on spending time with my family has been my saviour.  Closing my house door, closing media and just being there, observing those 2 little boys play and discover has helped me.

In the past I mostly tried to take my family to the Ardennes or to a city trip or vacation where it's just the 4 of us. That's always nice, it's not like we get too quickly too much of each other.

Funny enough that is exactly what I'm told to do.  The outside world has become unsafe and a threat. But I can withdraw in my little family bubble and try to ignore all what is outside.  It's nice in my bubble.  And I must honestly add that my little boys are behaving quite well.  Of course it's a struggle to combine work and children (and I took quite some vacation in maybe my stress level will be totally peaking in May) but they start playing better and more together and seem to understand better that mom and dad need to work as well.  Parents with younger children or a sole child might be in a totally different situation.

5) I didn't have that many hobbies anyhow

this is probably linked to point 2 and the fact that I am part of each week mothering my young children without partner, but I don't have any "cancelled" hobbies really to miss.  Only occasional yoga sessions had to be replaced by webinars, which was quite feasible.

I'm not going to concerts anymore lately (help, why are those so late, I am a sucker for staying up lately....even the new "streamed" concerts start so late.), I don't do organised sports, ...  So I have less the feeling of missing out and counting down to things get "normal" again.

6. (update) I am good in respecting hierarchy and given rules

Even though critical, I am not a rebel and tend to stick to agreements and rules.  I've not been further from my house in the last 5 weeks than 3-4 km.


Els said…
Rather remarkable but a very similar situation/feelings here ;-)
Very happy that last weeks were sunny and bright, that helped a lot too.
Take care and stay healthy.

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