I’ve just turned off the news and have this heavy feeling weighing on me. My old friend Anxiety is back. I’m pretty sure she’s muscled her way into many people’s lives over this lockdown period and what’s worse, she’s starting to introduce herself to my kids too. But I guess I’m partly to blame for her return. I spend a big chunk of my day scrolling through news articles and social media all talking about one thing: the Coronavirus.
Far from informing me, this constant flood of information only serves to send me into a confused panic. I’ll catch myself worrying about so many things, most of which are out of my control. Perhaps that’s the toughest part of this whole pandemic for me – feeling out of control.
I’ve been temporarily laid off from my full-time job; travel plans have been put on pause; I can’t see my family, and I don’t know how long homeschooling for my two young children will last – and when it ends, what will school life look like, and will it be “safe”?
Just as my mind was venturing down this rabbit hole of worry again, an email popped into my inbox with the subject line “Breathe darling, this is just a chapter”. It was a random mailer I didn’t even know I subscribed to, but it was exactly what I needed to bring me back to the present moment and remind me that life is all about perspective.
Worrying has never got me far and 99% of the things I have worried about in my life have never happened. So, what purpose does it serve?
During this lockdown, I’ve discovered parts of me I really like and parts of me I need to work on. I dare say I’ve grown
I quickly realised that what I really need to keep my sanity in check is to tune out all the noise around me and tune into myself instead. I need to stop looking at everything I can’t control and all that I have lost and so dearly miss, and turn my attention to everything I have learned and gained. So here goes…
I’ve lost my job and the sense of purpose it gave me, but I’ve gained time with my family and discovered a much deeper purpose as a mother – one that I realise now was eclipsed for a while by my need to succeed in my career.
I’ve lost many small freedoms, but I’ve gained perspective. I now understand the real value of these small freedoms and have a new appreciation for being able to do things I once took for granted. I literally stop and smell the roses.
I’ve been kept at a distance from family and friends, but in the absence of that physical connection to others, I have connected more deeply to myself. I’ve been given the time and space, free of life’s usual distractions, to do some real soul searching. During this lockdown, I’ve discovered parts of me I really like and parts of me I need to work on. I dare say I’ve grown.
As difficult as this “new normal” is, it’s forced all of us out of our comfort zones – and that is where real change begins. So when this is all over, the world will be different, but so will we. And while there will be big changes in how we live, it’s the changes within ourselves that will be the most significant. So when worry takes over and it all becomes a bit much, remember to breathe. This is just a chapter.
Jessica is a writer and editor from Cape Town – and a mom of two young kids. When she’s not working or running after her two little ones, she writes about the mess and the magic of motherhood, sharing her parenting journey, one faux pas at a time. Follow her on Instagram @realhometruths.