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Advice that I needed to hear this week
I hope it helps you, too.
This weekend, I hit the dreaded pandemic wall. My capacity for responding to various responsibilities and stressors seemed to evaporate, and I was far more easily annoyed by small things. I was quick to be negative, and felt more hopeless, angry, and uninspired than I have in a long while.
I had no idea what I’d write in this week’s newsletter. What could I possibly offer others while I was operating at such a deficiency?
It’s no surprise I felt this way. The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a poll showing that a majority of American adults—53%—believes that the pandemic is taking a toll on their mental health. This number is higher for Black Americans, at 68%. More than a third of respondents say they’re having trouble sleeping. Eighteen percent are losing their tempers more easily. And 32% of people say they're either overeating or under-eating.
Chances are, you’ve hit the pandemic wall at some point over the past few months, too. On a recent episode of the podcast Forever 35, host Kate Spencer explained that you can hit the wall multiple times. “Instead of rock bottom, you just keep hitting rock wall,” she quipped. “Exactly. There’s just no end to it,” co-host Doree Shafrir responded.
Thankfully, I was able to peel myself off the wall with a few key actions. And while I’m sure I’ll be fighting the pandemic blues once again before I know it, I’m grateful for the temporary relief.
I was fortunate enough to lean on loved ones who were in a clear-headed space this weekend and could offer solid advice. I listened to that advice, even when I wanted to respond with negativity or defensiveness. I took breaks from social media, which was a source of a lot of my frustration. I went on some slow and steady walks and got in some slow and steady miles on our stationary bike. Most importantly, I was gentle with myself.
Here’s some of the advice I received—either from friends or various things I’ve read. It helped me crawl out of my rut. I hope it helps you too.
Boundaries are a good thing. Setting boundaries doesn’t mean you’re callously saying no. Instead, you’re creating an environment that allows you to more authentically say yes.
Be mindful of what you spend—and waste—your energy on. The better you use your energy, the more of it you’ll have.
If seeing other people’s posts on social media is upsetting, that’s on you, not them. You can control whether you want to see those posts, and whether you choose to let other people’s actions bother you. You can’t control what others share, and shouldn’t try to.
There’s a scientific reason that we feel so depleted as the pandemic drags on. Expecting less from ourselves is one way to make this difficult period easier.
It’s OK to be OK, even when others aren’t. It’s fine to ignore the news and outside world for a while, and focus on your own happiness.
It’s OK not to be OK, even if others seem to be doing well. It’s fine to ignore the news and outside world for a while, and focus on your own healing.
We’re all suffering to various degrees these days. Comparing your grief to others’ doesn’t help anyone. (See also: Remove “at least” from your vocabulary when supporting someone who’s hurting!)
In order to feel less lonely, you have to build a stronger relationship with yourself. This, ironically, requires being alone.
You don’t have to watch the Republican National Convention if it makes you feel bad.
Advice you needed to hear
What’s a piece of advice that you especially needed lately? I’d love to hear it.
Share the advice that resonated with you by replying to this email, leaving a comment, or sending me a message. I’ll compile your replies in Thursday’s subscriber-only newsletter.
My Sweet Dumb Brain is written by Katie Hawkins-Gaar. It’s edited by Rebecca Coates, who has hit many pandemic walls this Summer and wants to feel motivated and inspired again soon. Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash.
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