A battle on many fronts.

Quarantine observations: I’m getting to see different sides to my kids. Maggie is a self-manager. She never has to be told anything. She’s a doer just like Allison. Mark is more of a free spirit. Takes things as they come. And Rachel, as the middle child, sits spiritually between the two. Like most parents, I’ve spent even more and closer time with my kids these last few weeks. I wonder how they will remember this period years from now. I wonder what we all will say about it.

So, how are you all feeling these days? I know this crisis is a battle on many fronts. Physically and mentally, we all need to be mindful of both. It’s so hard to stay positive as the days blend one into the other. It’s surprising how that reveals all the things we once took for granted. Going out to dinner. Seeing a movie. Hanging out with friends. This social experiment will have a lot of conclusions for sure.

My mental health like everyone else’s has certainly been tested. I’ve been feeling the stress of the unknown. How long will this last? What comes next? What does post-COVID-19 look like? It’s caused some sleepless nights and anxiety about the future. Not five years from now but tomorrow. Allison and I have been short with each other, short at times with the kids. All a reflection of learning how to manage our own mental health and well-being.

I even see it in the kids. Maggie looked sad yesterday. When I asked her about it, she just said she missed her friends. Mark seems more anxious and is having trouble settling down at night. I worry, and then he senses and feels the worry. Rachael, always the intuitive one, will sense these feelings and offer random hugs. They are so welcomed. But we are lucky we have each other. I like to think Mark has two other moms. His two older sisters each look after him. It helps. Not everyone has this luxury. I can’t imagine what single parents are going through, especially given the economic uncertainty on top of it.

I worry about a lot about those who were struggling before the pandemic hit. Those issues don’t take a break during the quarantine. Mental health concerns. Addictions and poverty. All this without regular access to treatment or assistance. Working with A Dollar a Day, I know that there are gaps for the most vulnerable when times are good, and now those gaps are more frequent and larger than they were before. The marginalized and vulnerable people of our society will feel the stress of the crisis that much more. We must be there for them.

We are all dealing with different aspects and levels of self-isolation and loneliness. Humans are social in nature and not wired to live like this. Currently, the weight of the negativity worries me. On top of the pandemic, we’ve seen the horrific tragedy and the twenty-two lives lost in Nova Scotia. I can’t imagine how those families are dealing with loss amid the isolation.

We’ve seen frontline workers pushed to the breaking point. One story in particular out of the States was about a doctor who succumbed to the pressure of working on COVID-19 cases and took her own life. For all the doctors, nurses, and staff, please make sure you have each other’s back and do your best to stay strong through this. Reach out if you need help.

Even the weather can you bring you down these days if you let it. I know I have even curbed the amount of news I usually take in daily, including social media. Updates are important. But, like calorie intake, you have to monitor the amount of stress-generating news you take in as well.

But listen… there is hope.

One thing that has always helped me, be it during a tough operation or in a tense situation at the hospital in Haiti, has been relying on the team. Try it. Work together as a team. Lean on each other. That can be accomplished as simply as through creating a group text thread.

You can also develop a new routine. That helps, especially at home. Make sure you exercise. Go for a walk, run, do an online yoga and fitness class. The activity will activate the body and in turn the mind.

You can reach out to people via Skype or Zoom or FaceTime… let them see your face, it really makes a difference. Know that we can’t control all the “what ifs?” or the unknowns. Instead, focus on what you can control. Put the phone down and talk to the ones around you. Play a board game. Solve a puzzle. Cook something that you’ve never cooked before. Listen to your body. Don’t let fear be your captor. Researching COVID-19 online? Make sure it is from a trusted source. Listen to what our government is asking you to do. It’s for the benefit of us all.

There are positive things happening around us. Some of us get to spend more time with loved ones, others are able to assist in ways they never thought their jobs or skills would allow. The world is even taking a carbon-free breath. You just got to seek out the positives. One thing we did as a family was to help local suppliers and restaurateurs deliver food on Good Friday to vulnerable people in St. John’s. It’s the little things that lift you if you let them.

I know there are still a few flurries about and there are some snow mountains still lingering from snowmageddon, but spring is in the air. There is hope. Together we are enduring what will be a defining moment in world history. We will be defined by how we responded. Years from now, when your grandkids ask what you did during the pandemic of 2020, may your answer be “I did whatever I could.”

Take great care,