Instead of being a safe retreat to escape to after a long day, our castles have transformed into a mirade of multi-use spaces that have forced our personal and external lives to cohabitate in ways we were never prepared for. Whether it’s finding a way to stay active and focused on Zoom classes, locating a quiet corner to complete a project in, or struggling to reach out to teachers or colleagues about questions or collaborations, 2020 has forced us all to take a critical look at our current systems as we try to catch up with all of the technological changes that 2020 has forced on our lives.
For many office workers, gone is the built-in safety net of a physical location marking the beginning and end of the work day. Now, all phones can take work calls and the work day can stretch beyond the 9-5 window as people feel a mixture of guilt and pressure to work harder to offset the ‘privilage’ of working from home.
The importance of decent, reliable, high-speed internet is no longer an option – whether for schooling or work – which is causing even greater divides among Americans as families struggle to supply this necessity when libraries and other options have been forced to close. Which, when added to the stress and/or cost of providing childcare to ‘home’ schooled students, is placing a strain on families that have essential workers – many of whom are stuck in minimum-paying jobs that relied on the social infrastructure that 2020 has now closed for the forseable future.
Needless to say, it’s the most
wonderful stressful time of the year.
To top it all off, we can’t even take a break from our work/home lives any more. Travel is frowned upon. Restaurants and bars are closed. Museums, amusement parks, gyms, and libraries are closed or severely limited depending on your location. You’re not even supposed to hang out with anyone not in your direct circle of physical contacts. Even with National Parks remaining open and the focus on exploring the outdoors, this takes a lot of planning (and money) to ensure everyone can complete any required work while on vacation and has become more difficult now that the cold has set in.
With long-distance parties and chats attempting to cover the ache of a normally family/friend-oriented time, holiday cheer doesn’t seem like the normal high point that it’s been in the past.
Now, more than ever, we need to normalize mental health and how to cope with stress.
Normalize self-care, for men and women: a relaxing bath; listening to your favorite music; start or return to a hobby; enjoying a movie; journaling; playing a game; exercise and/or yoga; a cup of coffee or tea in the mornings. Give yourself something to look forward to. Something that your can slip into your schedule to give yourself a moment of peace.
Normalize crying and processing emotions instead of bottling them up.
Normalize talking about issues with friends and family if you feel comfortable. Or even closing people out of your life that have harmed you, whether that’s physically or emotionally. Everyone deserves to have a safe place to grow in.
Normalize reaching out when you need help. Many doctors have increased their virtual presence to reach more people during these uncertain times and therapists are no exception. Having someone outside of your bubble to talk with can be a life saver. You are not alone.
Please be safe this holiday season, you deserve the world.