For many of us the COVID honeymoon is long over. Isolation, loss of routines, access to the gym, financial worries, working from home and changing school schedules has had us stretched too thin too long. We'd rather eat an entire loaf of bread than bake one and if we hear how much someone enjoys the extra time with their kids we'll scream! This is COVID Stress. We've all experienced it.
Last week after a particularly stressful day we ate ice cream for dinner. Not dessert -- dinner! It was OK. We didn't die in our sleep or put on 15 pounds. But we can't do that every night. Good ice cream (think Mocha Almond Fudge) gave us the brain power to drum up a list of alternative coping skills.
- Validate each other's feelings. COVID life is really hard! Difficult emotions like grief, fear, anger, conflicted and isolated keep us grounded in reality. Sharing them with Tom is being honest and can allow these feelings to pass over like storm clouds. A few tears and a warm hug is a bonus.
- Be intentional with your words. Choose words that are affirming. Our day was not a disaster; it was challenging. We didn't fail at dinner. We gave ourselves a much-needed ice cream break.
- Affirm your spouse. Check out John and Julie's post, The Super-Power of Affirmation. Help your spouse change self-doubt to self-trust with an attitude of "You've got this!" or "We can do this!"
- Identify activities that bring you down. Social Media can be full of toxic positivity. It is OK to not be OK right now. Negative news adds stress and not being able to do anything about it whacks your self-esteem. Replace these activities with a new skill, game or an old favorite movie. Or adopt our New Year's resolution and go to bed early, make love and recharge!
- Give each other the gift of time. Time to rejuvenate physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually is essential. If your spouse goes and goes until he or she is spent offer the gift of time -- down time together or alone, both are important.
- Plan for the future. Planning is almost as much fun as the event itself. So, if you are bored -- plan a date, a vacation or a backyard party. But don't set your heart on the details. Tattoo your heart with "Blessed are the flexible for they will not get bent out of shape."
- Finally, be gentle. Set judgment and perfectionism aside. Plain Ramen is comfort food. It doesn't have to be gourmet Ramen to be comforting! Shift your focus to all you have done. Be gentle with yourself and those you love. Gentleness enables you to be strong for others in ways they most need it.