Pandemic wall: a particular, often sudden, feeling of emotional and spiritual exhaustion in the time of Covid. The term was popularized by New York public radio host Tanzina Vega, but the term “hitting the wall” originated in endurance sports such as running or cycling, and is a condition of sudden fatigue and loss of energy.
I think I hit my pandemic wall late January. At the start of the year, I felt a sense of relief that we finally left 2020 behind, and surely things were going to get better in 2021. Except, they really haven’t yet. The colder weather, which has reduced the opportunity for socially distanced outdoor meetings with friends, has increased my sense of isolation. The sameness of the days is getting to me more than ever. I miss being able to eat in restaurants, go to the movies, go to concerts. I have a bunch of small things inside my home that need fixing and exceed my limited DIY skills, but I’m not comfortable letting anyone inside my house. It all adds up. I’m tired of having to do a risk benefit analysis for every decision that involves contact with others, whether it’s a trip to the store or a routine doctor’s visit.
The above quote hit a nerve for me. It’s so easy to get caught up in that spiral of overwhelm, and it’s exhausting. So what do we do to keep ourselves from hitting the wall, or regroup once we’ve hit it?
For me, it ultimately always comes down to gratitude. Even though I can’t do a lot of the things I want to do because I don’t feel safe doing them, I have a comfortable, warm home. I feel fortunate that my work has not been affected by the pandemic, and that I can work from home. I can have almost everything delivered. I can connect with friends virtually. Most importantly, I’m healthy.
So in the spirit of focusing on one brick, rather than the whole darn wall, I try to find one thing that makes me feel better, and do it. Some days, that may be baking a loaf of bread. Or ordering takeout from my favorite restaurant. Or making a big pot of vegetable soup. (Yes, there is a food theme here – thankfully, my daily walks are offsetting any damage from my comfort eating!) Other days, it may mean calling a friend, or binge watching a favorite show. A few of my hardier friends have been willing to go for walks with me despite the cold weather.
And of course, there’s always Allegra. Just watching her sleep in a sun puddle, blissfully unaware of everything that is going on in the world, makes everything better.
The bottom line: find something, anything, that’s good in your life, and focus on that. It may not remove the wall, but it will make you feel like you can cope again.
Have you hit your pandemic wall? How do you cope?