I find it hard to label myself as an introvert or an extrovert, so what characterizes me is that I'm somewhere in between. I'm a people watcher, but longing to meet new people; I don't like small talks, but intrigued about conversations. I like to be a fly on the wall, but I also like to be center of attention; I prefer to stay home and relax, but feel so good and full of energy after taking a walk! So how have the recent restrictions and stay-at-home recommendations affected me? Unexpectedly!
The last two weeks have been weird and not been able to find my strength to go out on a walk, both physically and mentally. I have been encouraging others to still go outside on solo walks - respecting social distancing requirements - chalk their walk, count and video their steps, but for myself -- it was easier said than done. Friends assumed that I was okay because I was probably still going out walking regularly.
Two weeks before the pandemic I have been caring for a sick spouse and the temporary adjustments have taken a lot of my energy. And now the pandemic put more decisions and worries on my shoulder. After all, I'm a 6 on the Enneagram - which means I think and worry - A LOT! My body and mind were letting me know that I needed to rest and slow down, but I wasn't going to listen. Why?
Maybe it was letting the news get to me. As a public health professional I am all about getting accurate information, using data, modeling the curve and how we can curb it before it's too late. I felt the need to support my friends with accurate and relevant information. I quickly understood that getting us all inside is what had to happen, and canceled all my walks until further notice. Soon enough all walks were suspended as well. So without a regular walking schedule, without going in the office like every Tuesday, I let myself go deep in the details of the pandemic, without having an official role....
Maybe it was all the financial stress and the fact that all the Walk2Connect shoulder-to-shoulder programming was put to a stop until further notice. We don't know when the virus will be completely gone and when people will be allowed to congregate outdoors in groups - and we have to think of all the states and countries Walk2Connect is present in. So I had to go into seeking alternative financial revenue.
Maybe it was a sort of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Growing up in a dictatorship country in the 80's, rationized food and supplies was something I knew was normal (until Romania was freed in 1989). So I thought I was ready for rationalizing the meats we had in the freezer, the carrots and milk we had in the fridge, the canned food we had in the pantry. But I did panic when I couldn't go to the grocery store for any little thing missing from the pantry (following the recommendation to try and go to the store once for a couple of weeks) and couldn't just jump in the car to go get it, and when I couldn't find bananas and carrots at our grocery store. My earned freedom was getting walled in.
But no one can help me more than myself! No matter how much I was reading, working out (yes, 3 times a week of intense workouts), meditating, binge watching, nothing changed how I was feeling. First, I had to take care of my body, listen to what was wrong, and let it heal. Sleep was also important, no computer work before bedtime - and also going to bed earlier. So it took me two weeks, but last Sunday I finally had the courage to take a few steps outside my home, through the neighborhood, with my spouse. That mile gave me enough strength to continue the self care I was doing and took Monday off work to focus on house improvements. Of course I picked some hard chores, but I had enough energy and needed to test my body if it was ready to get back in full mode. It was!
Now it was time to take care of my mental health and - since it was a beautiful day and also National Walking Day - I went for a 4-mile walk by myself on Wednesday! It felt so good and got so much stuff done at home afterwards!
Bottom line is that I stressed myself too much about the current world situation when I needed to focus on myself.
If you passed through similar stages these past few weeks, or are still stuck, remember to pause and think of what you (body and mind) need right now. You can work on the needs by yourself, with someone close, or asking for help. I see Nature as a healer and we can always find advice from it when we are ready to seek. If you are just taking small steps to connect your mind and soul with nature, it's ok. One step at a time will take you to same destination. If you have been stressed the past few weeks, just take a moment, go outside (porch, backyard, open the window) and connect with the nature around you and seek the strength you need for next step. And once you are ok, each out to others and ask how they are doing!
Pictures in this blogpost were taken on my aforementioned walk on National Walking Day, April 1, 2020 through Longmont, CO.