All in This Together
We’ve all been social distancing, but we’re not alone. One thing that has become evident through this pandemic is that even though our experiences are different, we’re all going through this at the same time, which can really help to ease the feeling of isolation. We asked some of our Still I Run Ambassadors what their COVID-19 experience has looked like, what they’re doing to help them get by, and a mantra they’ve adopted during this tough time. It helps to see that despite our situations being unique, we’re all in this together.
I think it’s safe to say COVID-19 has changed everything for everyone. There is not one single person who has not been impacted by this virus. That is significant. I work for a hospital and my job is to meet with people who are having a mental health emergency. Since the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order in my state, my team has moved to provide telehealth services as much as possible. However, as well all know, not everyone can participate in a phone or iPad evaluation. It does make me a little anxious to walk into the emergency department during this pandemic, but honestly, I’m just so grateful I have a job right now. Even more so, I’m so grateful our society views mental health treatment as essential. That is huge.
I am so grateful that my number one coping mechanism is running. I live in a rural area and can go out my front door and run back roads for hours without seeing anyone. Lately, I’ve struggled with feeling overstimulated and overwhelmed by all the information on the news and social media. My running has significantly increased since the ‘quarantine’ began. Partially this is because all my other hobbies have been canceled. However, the main reason I’ve increased my running is for my mental health. Running outside and alone is so freeing right now. Outside I am free from statistics, news, and people in crisis. Running clears my mind to be able to focus on everything else that needs my attention in a day.
COVID-19 is hard. People fear the unknown and this virus is saturated with questions that cannot be answered right now. It’s hard to have control over so little, but the best advice I can give is to focus on what you can control. For me, I can control whether or not I go outside for my daily run.
Kate and Jennifer
For me, it’s weird how life is so static in some ways right now, and moving so fast in others. I’m lucky to have an office job that I can do full-time from home, although my ability to focus fluctuates from day-to-day. We had a friend passing through the area in mid-March who, to all of our surprise, has now become a long-term resident of our house; thankfully, we are all getting along well with each other a month in!
Running has been a huge part of my coping strategy during this time; I’ve never done a run streak before, but now I’m over three weeks into running at least a mile a day. That time out of the house is crucial for my mental well-being. I also turn repeatedly to the mantra I adopted—more aptly than I could have imagined—at the beginning of 2020: “here. now.” We don’t know exactly what’s coming, so all we can do is live in this moment and take it all day by day.
Being sheltered at home has been unlike anything I have ever experienced. I have three kids at home (8, 6, 2) and my husband has been working from home most of the time. I have minimal alone time and feel as though I have to be ‘on’ 24/7 for my family as I help with their social, emotional, and academic needs. By the end of the evening, I have been feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted.
For me, fresh air and sunshine have been helpful for my mental health. With my husband home, I have been sneaking out for runs during nap time and we have been taking family bike rides around our neighborhood. In our home we are trying to embrace the ‘beauty in the chaos’ and we have been able to find those beautiful moments everyday.
Patty and Kari
With all things COVID happening right now, like many people, life has become… interesting. My daughter has been home from school since sometime in the middle of March, and I’m in my 3rd week of working from home full-time. I’m struggling to keep her engaged in her work as well as make sure my own work is getting done.
At the current moment, Peanut is downstairs playing Minecraft because I just can’t fight her newly lost interest in school. Overall, I’m mentally exhausted from the shitstorm this has become; the whiplash of changing regulations and guidelines; the people who are politicizing this, and the ones believing that this is no worse than the flu (that’s a whole other topic). I have hit the point of exhaustion and I’m in that state of “meh” where I want to find better ways to cope. Unfortunately, I am finding zero desire to do so. Irrational Brain is screaming at me that I’m being extremely selfish and throws an insane amount of guilt on me if I give myself time to partake in any self-care. Running included. It’s OK to not be OK. We’ll make it through.
I have mixed feelings about this quarantine. Part of me is exhausted and overwhelmed trying to navigate working from home, dealing with the extra stresses of daily life, and trying to keep my head above water financially. The other part of me has decided to truly embrace this opportunity to spend quality time with my daughters and savor these unique moments we are getting together.
To help me get through this time I have chosen to focus on embracing a positive mental attitude even when I’m not feeling so positive. Maintaining a schedule has been imperative. I continue to wake up each morning around the same time I did pre-quarantine and set goals for each day. Exercise was already a part of my life, but maintaining a regular exercise routine (including teaching virtual fitness classes) and making sure I get out for a run a few times a week has helped me physically, mentally and emotionally.
My new mantra for this time in my life: Trust the timing of your life.
Shoshana and Jamie
Like many I’m sure, I do have my good days and bad days but honestly, mostly good. The quarantine has not been super difficult for me personally. In the beginning, I took a couple of weeks off to just be home with my daughter and to self isolate for our own health and well being. It was a wonderful couple of weeks we spent bonding, laughing, running, and exercising together. It was nice to just “BE” and to not be on a time schedule, to just sit and enjoy quiet mornings and the beautiful weather and to have dinner together as a family every night. When I was off I did a lot of reading, running, journaling, praying, etc. That all definitely set me up for keeping my chin up and dealing with getting through this pandemic as positive as I can.
My husband is still working, and my office is still open, so I have been back to work now for the last few weeks. Other than not seeing the public and not really going out for lunch, I still see my coworkers so it doesn’t feel much different for me and my family. School being closed took a bit of a toll on my daughter when it was announced, so she has also had some good days and tough days, but for the most part, we are all getting through this together.
It's been very hard not seeing my friends and family, not hugging them and spending time with them, but I know “this won’t be forever” (this has been my mantra) and I just keep reminding myself of that. I believe personally this has helped me become stronger mentally (although I still work on that every day) and it has helped show me what truly is most important in life and what I want the new normal to become.
This quarantine has had ups and downs for me. Some days I embrace everything about it – I’m scrubbing the baseboards around my house, organizing the linen closets, going for long runs, and doing themed lessons with my kids. Other days I’m in bed all day with a book, unmotivated to do much of anything else. I’m a stay at home mom, however, I’m a stay at home mom who constantly takes my kids to do things outside of the home to keep them entertained: parks; play-dates; zoos; children’s museums. Before the quarantine, I tried to schedule one thing outside of the home every day to break up the day for the kids (and me!). Now that we are truly confined to our home, I’m trying to get creative with the ways I can keep them busy and learning. We have meltdowns and tough days. It’s hard.
The most helpful thing for me during this quarantine has been my runs. It’s been really great to have my husband at home to be with the kids and have the luxury of being able to go for a run whenever I feel like I need to. I get lost while I pound the pavement, and for just a few minutes, I forget about what is happening. The Calm app has also really encouraged me to mentally push past the anxiety flare-ups that come and go. At night after the kids are in bed, I’ve been able to fall back in love with watercolor painting, and it has become the biggest stress reliever for me.
My faith has been everything through this quarantine. It gives me hope, encourages me and sustains my strength. The mantra I’ve been adopting comes from Romans 8:37, which says, “We are more than conquerors through Christ who loves us.”
Kristin and Megan
Anyone who knows me knows I love routine. I’m generally ok feeling like a hamster on a wheel because that consistency keeps my anxiety at bay. I remember packing up my work bag with all my notebooks and monitors and gathering all of my daughter’s personal items from daycare the day the Stay at Home order in my state was announced and it felt so surreal. I forced back tears telling her she wouldn’t be at daycare with her friends for a while which, at 3 years old, she can understand that there’s a shift in our world right now, but isn’t old enough for me to tell her exactly what’s going on and why. I think that lack of understanding through her eyes is what gets to me the most- I hope I’m sharing just the right amount of information with her in all the right ways but what does she really think is happening? I’ve been feeling a lot of the full time work from home and mom from home so it feels like a constant balancing act and I never feel like I’m doing anything well…just good enough to get by and I’m telling myself that’s OK for this season of life.
I’ve relied on running more than ever and am so thankful to be coming off of a minor setback in the form of an injury. My spring races were cancelled but I wasn’t sure I’d be able to really run them anyway, so it’s been relatively easy to shift my focus away from what I can’t do and really focus on the rebuilding phase. I’ve also turned back to journaling and like having that time each day to reflect on what I’m grateful for and then do a quick mind dump of thoughts so I can try to let go of what I might be unnecessarily holding onto.
My motto during the quarantine has been “control the controllable” (I even say it out loud to myself when I’m extra overwhelmed!). When I find myself with ‘glass half empty’ type thoughts I try to force some perspective and think about how I can flip them around in my mind. I try to focus on the things I can do and not just what I can’t, but I’ll be honest in saying it takes a lot of practice and some days it’s much harder than others.