“Pandemic” Season 3: Winter
This piece may contain spoilers about the upcoming season of life.
For better or for worse, the pandemic has slowed us down. No more rushing around to several places in one day, coming home exhausted and ready to crash into the couch. An outing to the drug store has become a daily highlight. No euphoric rushes from canceling plans to stay in and watch Netflix. For months most of our plans have been canceled before they even had a chance to be made.
Like the Gilmore Girls sequel, each season of the pandemic has had its own vibe. Consequently like the Gilmore Girls, my coffee consumption has risen dramatically over the course of the pandemic.
Spring, our introductory season, was FOMO for springs of the past. It was a stay-at-home, what-the-hell-is-happening, wipe-down-your-groceries, how-high-can-I-get-my-screen-time, are-you-watching-Tiger-King spring equivalent to no other.
The summer was confusing. It was great to be outside, the numbers of cases decreased, and although things were certainly not back to normal, it was great to be out of our homes. Summer made me miss ‘normal’ even more than the spring. The sky said ‘all is well’ while the news and medical experts said ‘not so fast.’ I wanted to go to outdoor beer-gardens and not worry about taking off my mask or keeping 6ft distance (and I don’t even like beer or being crowded by people, so I guess that’s saying something).
Fall was the season everyone sort of forgets about and skips when they go back to re-watch. Like season 8 of The Office when you’re not quite sure how to feel now that Micheal Scott is gone.
As the cold starts to creep in and cases creep up around the country, we’re being forced back inside and back into a March mindset. Last time, however, we were blindsided. This time, we have the home-court advantage. We know what’s up this time around, but that doesn’t necessarily make what’s in store any easier.
There are many articles about preparing for a pandemic winter, and I can understand why. Personally, I’ve been flip-flopping between a ‘let’s get this over with’ mindset and a ‘how can I use this time wisely’ mindset as I think about this upcoming winter.
I’m mentally preparing for multiple-day stretches where I don’t leave the house. I’m trying to put myself in the mindset that staying at home does not have to coincide with seasonal depression, but if it does, that’s okay too. I’m reminding myself now, while I’m not knee-deep in the inevitable winter blues, to phone a friend when I’m feeling lonely, take a break from work when I feel exhausted, and do something other than flip through Netflix indecisively when I’m feeling antsy.
There is a very real chance this winter will be a long and challenging one, but as Glennon likes to say, we can do hard things.
We don’t have to be productivity machines this winter, and we don’t have to go into full-on hibernation either (Why is there no GIF of Charles asking Stanley to be his productivity czar?!). We can have good days and bad days and lost days where we look at the clock and somehow it’s 4 PM even though we’re still nursing that first cup of coffee.
I know it’s preachy and much easier said than done, but mindset is everything when it comes to hunkering down for the winter. Reminding ourselves now to be okay with not being okay will serve us greatly not only in the winter but in life in general.
Being okay with not being okay makes life a lot easier.
Instead of taking on the meta guilt of I should be happier, more productive, working out more, getting out of the house more, socializing more, etc it feels a lot better (and takes a much less detrimental toll on our psyches) to embrace the days that you feel stir crazy or blue. Acknowledge these are not normal times, and it’s perfectly okay if you don’t feel like your ‘normal’ self — how could you?
Feelings about how we should feel are often much worse than the ‘bad’ feelings themselves. And ‘bad’ feelings are not as bad as we anticipate if we sit with them and give them space they’re asking us for, instead of trying to push them away. That energy you use to push bad feelings away, you need that to do other things!
Feelings, emotions, and moods are not always pleasant, but they are always temporary.
Do whatever you need to do to enjoy your time as much (or as little) as possible (for me it’s eating nachos and re-watching Gilmore Girls for the hundredth time or the Marvel movies in chronological order). Giving into how you feel instead of pushing against it will deplete you a lot less in the long run, and help you not just survive the winter, but maybe even enjoy it.
When in doubt, we can turn to Norway for some lessons on a pandemic winter.