It’s been another eventful week in the world and there is plenty of news to keep up with these days. Between some major US political announcements and the shutdown of Shanghai Pride, even while I’m sure people are paying attention, there’s a lot to be paying attention to. There’s a larger responsibility to know what’s going on in the world around me and understand what’s happening, a civic duty if you will.
That being said, one thing I’ve noticed more than anything else, is a slow burnout of people trying harder to keep up; from coronavirus updates to whatever else is going on in their lives, we’re all juggling a lot and the more there is to pay attention to, the harder it gets. It’s like someone turned up the heat and all the responsibilities got a few degrees harder to control. If you’re anywhere like the Sacramento area, it’s literally getting quite hot this weekend and something about the heat just makes it all harder to stay on top of.
The thing is, before you can take care of any of those responsibilities, like your friends and families and work, you’ve got to be able to take care of yourself—it’s that analogy that says you can’t pour from an empty cup. Let’s say everyone else is thirsty and the weather is hitting the 100’s for a week straight like it’s about to in Sacramento this week. Your cup, however, is empty.
You can’t pour water for anyone else or quench your own thirst if your cup is already empty. With a global pandemic that has been draining as people try to isolate, work, study, navigate friendships, protest, adjust to change, and do so much more in, we’ve all been doing a lot. This pandemic has been a bit like turning up the heat and unfortunately, a lot of people didn’t adjust how much water they were drinking every day or how much they attended to themselves and their own needs throughout it.
So, how do we keep track of our lives and the people or things in it as circumstances keep changing while also prioritizing taking care of ourselves in the process? How do we make sure our cups are full so we can beat the heat?
Well, I’ve got a few ideas.
Keep in touch.
I heard from my grandmother the other day and she sounded a little bit… off. There are a lot of things I’ve taken for granted and even though sometimes I enjoy my fair share of doing nothing all day and not having to go outside, I’m 22 years old. I can fill my time with FaceTiming friends and annoying my brother because I don’t live alone, or I can pull out some videogames or go for a walk if I want to get out and about. But my grandmother doesn’t have all these options and she’s quite a bit more at risk than I am. As someone whose perspective is different, in her 90’s rather than her 20’s, she doesn’t find the monotony so welcome and unfortunately, she doesn’t know when all of these circumstances around us are going to change. None of us do. The best I and those who love her can do is keep in touch and add a little brightness to her day— maybe I can convince her to buy some videogames to play with me or find a new way to connect; you never know what’s possible these days.
Even if it is a small walk around the block, a chance to watch the sunset from your front porch, or a virtual adventure some other way if you can’t get out and about, it’s good to escape the everyday routines we’re all in. Especially if you’re anything like me and have a habit of staying in pajamas/the same T-shirts and shorts when you know that you don’t have to leave the house on some days, give yourself a reason to shake things up a little bit. It might seem small but get out of the typical walk from the work desk to the fridge or bathroom or bedroom, and back routine every now and then. Take a walk on the wild side to give your body and mind a break. Get out from behind the desk/screen/indoors you might have been in too long.
Take a step back.
I’ve gotten in the bad habit of either starting or ending my day with social media and sometimes, it’s both. When I do this, I’m throwing myself straight into this constant cycle of the education and awareness that’s incredibly prevalent on socials right now; as good as it is to keep up with these things, it’s also hard to separate from it. This extends to more than social media, but also to the news and other aspects of our lives or people you feel the need to keep up with in order to stay connected. It’s no longer something you want to do, but something you feel pressured to do without putting the energy into fully doing it. Unfortunately, staying connected like this can also take time away from reconnecting with ourselves and at a certain point, a lot of people lose that self-connection all together. So I invite you to take a step back today and figure out what you need to focus on— what you want to focus on—even if that means starting and ending the day with you.
This goes for the people around you as well as for yourself: check-in, and see what’s going on or how you’re feeling. We go about our lives often doing things and talking about whatever we’re up to without stopping for a moment to let the dust settle. I don’t know if you’ve taken a look at the numbers, but mental health has been on the downfall during the pandemic for a whole lot of reasons. It’s a combination of loneliness, isolation, too much/too little time, anxiety, frustration, and a whole lot of uncertainty surrounding everything going on around us. Take the time to check in with loved ones, spend some time with them, and check-in with yourself. Just acknowledging the state of things, how you’re feeling about it all, and where you’re at can make a difference right now.
Don’t work too hard— set boundaries.
Though it applies to everyone, this last one goes out to all my remote workers and class takers especially; it’s not exactly easy, is it? The thing about working in an office and attending in-person classes is that when it’s over, you get to leave. Sure, classes tend to come with homework and work tends to require you to go back the next day, but with both of them, there is only so much you can take home with you. Now that people are working or schooling remotely, for a lot of people it seems like the work doesn’t quite have a set end-point. You can always go back and check emails or pick up where you left off to do just a little more on an assignment— at a certain point, you’ve got to set boundaries. Choose your priorities and your times when you’re going to work, then decide when you’re going to stop. Especially as this remote school and work thing seems like it’s going to be going for a while, I hope you consider that if it’s not working for you right now, make it. Because it isn’t going anywhere.
We all know the news isn’t going to slow down— with election season coming up, it’s probably going to do the opposite. At least for the Sacramento area, the heat isn’t going anywhere right now either. The best thing any of us can do right now is to take care of ourselves first and foremost, try to stay cool in this heat, and check-in with our loved ones as often as possible.
After all, we’ve been doing this for a while and if no one has reminded you, take a moment to check in on your own cup and see where your levels are at. No matter what, remember that you can’t pour from an empty cup, but you sometimes need some help filling it back up too. So don’t be afraid to ask for that either. Take care of yourselves because mental health has a large impact on physical health, and stay safe. If you haven’t seen my post from Tuesday, I’ve updated some information on that page so check it out here.
Otherwise, I’ll see you next week.