I have a bad case of covid fatigue

I have a bad case of covid-19 fatigue and here’s what I am doing about it.

Anxiety is my go-to emotion. Anxiety in the midst of a pandemic is particularly tough. What I find I am doing with my anxiety is projecting out several weeks, several months and even several years into the future to see what life’s obstacles I need to attend to. This is completely the opposite of what I know I should be doing. I should be living in the moment one day at a time and not getting too far into the future or the past.

In order to help myself along with this goal and this need of getting back into the present, I am contemplating all the things I am worrying about, putting them on a list and then putting a time frame on them as to when they are due. Things that do not fall within the next 2 to 4 weeks or so go on the back burner to be addressed another day.

It is OK but not functional to have a list of all things to attend to until Doomsday. It is much nicer to have a shorter, more obtainable list of things I need to do in the next two weeks.

How do you keep focused on the present in this time of covid?

Squirrels are not my favorite today

Covid-19 is causing all sorts of crazy behaviors! Even amongst the squirrels!

Both of our cars have been besieged by squirrels in the last several days/weeks. Apparently the insulation that goes around the wires in both vehicles has some sort of soy-based component that the squirrels love. Hence the fact that cords and wires have been chewed through on both cars by squirrels. The local mechanic recommended using a monthly pepper spray intended to keep squirrels out of bird feeders. We have one car back from the shop and well sprayed. The second one we will get back on Monday and will spray again. Not to mention a nuisance this is also an expense we don’t need.

But all in all, I guess the squirrels are hoarding up for another round of covid-19 just like the rest of us…! Sorry to make a joke out of a very serious situation with covid-19. But a little humor is needed in these very serious times!

Sometimes when I don’t have the energy…

Sometimes I don’t have the energy to tackle the things on my to-do list. Either the to-do list is too long, or I am feeling anxious about things or some combination of the two.

What I have found when I am feeling this way is if I can just do one small thing on the list like pickup eggs at the supermarket, the rest of the list does not feel so daunting. As soon as I can jumpstart myself into doing one thing that’s productive, the barriers to finishing other items on the to-do list are less so. Often I can go ahead and complete several other items.

Does anybody else have a way of jumpstarting their to-do list? What is your secret?

Understanding triggers for yourself and your spouse

It goes without saying that everyone should be aware of their own triggers so as to have proper boundaries with the people in their life. This might include their spouse, a clinician, or perhaps a person in the grocery store. Once we know our own triggers, we can better avoid situations with these triggers as well as adopt behaviors that help manage through the triggers if they are unavoidable.

But what I am proposing here today is not only to know your own triggers but also be aware of those triggers for your spouse (or your best friend). Invariably about three times a year, my husband’s trigger gets tripped. This is often surrounding planning for / taking a car trip for a week to ten days. Or it may have to do with some investment issue or mechanical mishap gone awry – usually something simple. My husband tends to sweat the small stuff but let the big problems roll off his back.

Understanding what triggers my husband is as important to me as understanding what triggers me. When he is under stress he tends to use a tone of voice that is not pleasant to me. For a while in the earlier stages of our relationship I would try to counter that tone of voice in a way that escalated the conflict. I would just mimic back the escalated tone which never resolved anything and only made things worse.

What I have been doing for the last several years of our marriage or so is just going silent if he is in a triggered space. Not reacting. Not engaging. Another thing I do is to let him know I cannot process the information he is communicating to me when he is using that tone. Both of those tactics seem to work better than the escalation scenario.

Another thing I have been doing lately is verbally acknowledging him when I know he is in a stressful place. From time to time, I do talk him down from getting to that trigger in the first place. If we are unable to manage through a trigger zone successfully, I ask for an apology and he gives one.

On the other side of the coin, when I am triggered in my anxiety spot which is almost once a day for a half hour, my husband uses humor to deescalate me. If I am worried about losing the keys, he might say that he threw them out the window or some such joke. If I am worried about the car windows being open, he says he rolled them all down before it started to rain.

I am not sure this is ideal behavior for a couple but it seems to work for us. I understand his trigger areas and largely seek to avoid or deescalate during those times. He understands mine and does his part through humor to let me know my anxiety should not dominate my day or dominate my thoughts.

For the most part, we also go out of the way to thank each other for things we do around the house or to help with the running of the household. We try not to take each other for granted and express gratitude for the times when we are able to manage without impacting each other’s triggers. Part of being thankful is acknowledging that neither of us is perfect and that is OK.

One new home project at a time (continued)

I tackled another clutter spot in the house — this time a storage area under the stairs. This project was motivated by the fact that we are getting a new dining room table from my Mom as she goes into a facility for the elderly. And we need a space to keep the extra leaves. Tackling this storage area spurred me to find pictures of my daughter when she was younger and pictures of me and my husband when we were younger (and much, much fitter).

I hung several of these family portraits and a few other paintings that had been sitting in storage. The picture of my husband and me is when we were first engaged almost twenty years ago. I hung it downstairs as a reminder of how far we have come in that time period and also as a reminder that we could be healthier, lighter, fitter these twenty years later.

So all in all the decluttering under the stairs led to updating pictures around the house and making it homey. It also led to a visual reminder that I would like to get 20 to 30 pounds off and would like the same type of resolution for my husband, though I cannot make that call for him. All I can do is set an example of proper eating and exercise.

My goal now is to find a declutter project once every two weeks and see where it takes me….!

Labor Day weekend (in the States) and covid-19 protocols

It has been in the news that we saw a spike of covid-19 cases after Memorial Day and July 4th holidays in the US. This is a plea (probably preaching to the choir) to wear face masks, keep socially distant and wash hands a lot this Labor Day weekend. (For folks who don’t know Labor Day on Monday September 7th is a US holiday.)

These precautions are not things to do because we are told to do them. They are things to do because we respect the lives of those around us and request they do the same for us.

How I met my husband

Pan back to 2001. I had been engaged once and that engagement did not come about. I had been celibate for about 7 years after the first engagement broke off and spent a lot of time exploring things that I was interested in including quantum mechanics and medical intuition. Largely I was exploring these things on my own at my own pace and one day woke up thinking I should meet someone.

So I went to my best friend and we talked about the possibilities of meeting someone online. This was way before online dating was “a thing.” I decided to submit an online profile but got cold feet at the time it was due. My best friend helped me out – I would answer a question then she would answer a question and so on. So in reality the profile I was submitting for myself was only half accurate…..

It ends up my husband-to-be was the first name that popped up when we did the search. He and I communicated by email for several weeks and then decided to meet in a public place. We met at a coffee shop and I brought my 100 pound Labrador/Newfoundland in the car. After the coffee talk we decided to go ahead with the date and walk some nearby trails. Of course I brought the dog for safety. I also continued dialogue with two or three other guys I met online, but there was no spark there.

From the first meeting at the coffee shop it was just a series of get togethers – a comedy show, a picnic in the park, out to dinner and so on. Soon we both felt we were a match – within several months together. My family was having a family reunion and my husband-to-be joined us. This got my family’s thumbs up and within a week or two we were engaged. My husband proposed on a walk in the woods near my house. It was lovely! After about 9 months of engagement we were married!

Something I forgot to add was that after we started dating we found out that each of our first cousins each with the same Christian name grew up as best friends in Nashville. It was and is truly a small world! While my husband and I met on the internet, our families had known each other for 30 years!

I can’t say married life is easy. There are a lot of ups and downs. But by and large we are able to manage through the chaos and come up on the other end with a largely solid relationship.

What do Fall and December Holidays look like this year?

From where I sit, it is looking like Fall / Thanksgiving and December / Christmas Holidays will be experienced at home without visiting out-of-state family. It is a two-day drive to get to see the in-laws. There is staying in a hotel on the road and then exposure to everyone in our extended family. I just can’t see that happening with covid-19 lurking about.

What are other people planning for fall and winter breaks?

One home project at a time

Since the end of July / beginning of August and largely due to covid-19, I have been embarking on a prioritized home project every week to ten days. It feels good to accomplish projects with a beginning, a middle and an end. I can check them off my list which is great. I can also enjoy the added sense of new homey touches for home enjoyment and decluttering our living spaces.

At first it was being sure my daughter had a good place to do her remote learning. We set up an existing table as a desk for her, got a new rug, added a new pillow, and cleared the room of most of the clutter. Another project was sprucing up the back porch by adding two new jade plants. An additional project was adding two new plants to my daughter’s room – a peace plant and a pothos or fast-growing climber. Another more costly project was getting a new dining room rug since we will soon be inheriting a new dining room table from my mother who is downsizing to go into a facility for the elderly. This took a lot of work and some not so subtle swearing from my husband and me to get centered into the dining room. In addition, I have been cutting the back and front yard every week to ten days this summer and attending to flowers out front of the house. The outside of the house looks nice. It is looking nicer with each project completed inside as well.

For the most part these projects have not been too expensive. Going to discount stores for pillows and decorative accents and to Home Depot for plants helps with the price side of the equation for sprucing up the home. A new plant or a candle can do great things to brighten up your living room or other area where you spend a lot of time.

In addition to home projects, I like to check off my list the regular weekly chores as projects as well. This includes things like grocery shopping, watering plants, vacuuming the downstairs, cleaning the bathrooms, paying bills, getting a pescatarian meal on the table each day, doing the laundry, and other regular maintenance activities. I feel I need to give myself credit for those tasks as well even though they are more maintenance and less of home projects. There are times when I don’t feel motivated to take on a new home project so I have to give myself credit for getting maintenance work done during those times. It is nice that my husband thanks me when I am doing these chores and that he is aware of those contributions.

Other home projects on the horizon include: getting mums for the fall for the front porch to replace the current flowers, getting the dining room table from my Mom, putting down a new living room rug from my Mom, organizing my closet, organizing the kitchen towels and napkins and place mats, etc. I hope to get a further list together in the next few weeks.

Overall, I have to say that having home projects and regular maintenance projects to do is one way of combatting cabin fever due to covid-19. They give purpose to the day and they end up making the home a more comfortable place to be. And that is important because at home is where we need to be now and for the foreseeable future.

What is your take on home projects during covid? Are you in maintenance mode with weekly chores which is still a fantastic accomplishment! ? Or can you tackle a small home improvement project here and there? Not on the scale of official remodeling but more along the lines of decluttering a family space or adding a new touch of color with a candle or a plant or some such small gesture?