The Recovering Farmer

Friday, May 22, 2020

Hitting the Wall

Shortly after I wrote my thoughts on blame a few weeks ago, I read an article in the Winnipeg Free Press entitled Manitobans are hitting the pandemic 'wall' by Bob Cox.

In the article he compares our Covid 19 fight with running a marathon. In simple terms he refers to marathon runners “hitting a wall” at just over the half way point of the race. It is then that fatigue overtakes effort and negative thoughts begin. Simply continuing takes a monumental effort.

His thought, and I completely concur, is that most of us are feeling overwhelmed with our race against Covid and want to change the way we have been forced to live for the last 2 months. I see it in my grandkids, in my kids and definitely in myself. Lack of normalcy, very little socialization and being cooped up at home is taking its toll.

The writer then refers to research on the dilemma we find ourselves in. That research mentions two key elements for survival. Humour, which is always good even if it becomes morbid at times, and blaming. Apparently it is healthy if we find scapegoats and vent by blaming others for our predicament.

It is tough for me to agree with that in spite of it being “researched”. To blame means we think someone else is wrong and the only means to fix that wrong is up to the other person. With the situation we are in me thinks we may have to wait a long time for someone else to fix what is wrong so that we can be happier.

Often times I will click on an article just to read reader’s comments. With political articles the comments can be anywhere from vile to funny. With this particular article I found that most commenters disagreed with “blaming” being a healthy way to vent.

I get that we should be honest about our feelings and yes, there are times when that honesty made lead us to vent and blame others for our state of mind. But I feel there are better ways to deal proactively with negative thoughts and emotions.

In the last article I posted, I wrote that we need to connect with others but also connect with ourselves. Although the comment about connecting with ourselves gave me pause I did not expand on that. Then a reader responded by suggesting that self-connection is be an important tool. Here are her words; “I like what you said about connecting with yourself. Often we are "off" and don't know it or we make ourselves busy to distract from it”.

We never outgrow our need for real human connection. I think that has become crystal clear over the last few months as our connection with others has been limited. Being seen and heard particularly when we are in distress greatly reduces our anxieties. When others are aware of our feelings, are non-judgemental and want to help us, we feel better.

But just as important is connecting with ourselves just as we would connect with others who are struggling. We have a tendency to judge ourselves, wonder whether we are making right choices, and often blame ourselves when we feel down. By becoming more mindful, being self-aware and understanding we can develop a self-connection that will keep us from hitting the wall and finishing the race. Make it a good one.

“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.” Albert Einstein

Thursday, May 7, 2020

A Roller Coaster

I find myself feeling like I am on a roller coaster, my emotions all over the map. At times frightened about the reality we are in to feeling the warmth of the sun washing away those fears and providing a ray of light at the end of the tunnel.

As an avid golfer I was happy to learn that the golf courses were opening this week. Golf has a therapeutic effect on me. So after a drawn out winter topped by self-isolation for the last seven weeks I was relieved to know that I would soon be out enjoying a round.

On the other hand we heard this week of the passing of my wife’s cousin due to Covid. That came as a shock as he had been in the ICU but came out and appeared he was recovering. What frightens me is that when I first heard he had the virus I made the comment that if Johnny can survive this I have a chance as well. Aside from the sadness, his passing now has me reflecting on my own mortality.

Along with those extremes there are all kinds of other unknowns in between that find my thoughts racing from positive news to negative news. There are times when it is difficult to function. My work easily overwhelms. Normal spring time chores like yard work, that were enjoyable in the past, now feel daunting.

Not only is it normal to have such a range of emotions, it’s also okay. We simply need to find the ability to talk about it and be real in our conversations. Talking about it helps. Verbalizing how we feel forces us to hear our own thoughts. Often hearing our thoughts out loud adds a different perspective.

Late last week I found my anxiety levels elevated. My son noticed that I seemed “off” and commented about it. I started talking about my anxiety levels and as I talked and heard myself I came to a quick understanding that my anxiety was rooted in my thinking and not in reality. It helped me change my thought patterns and, quite quickly, changed my emotional state.

Last night my son looked at me and said that I seemed to be in a better place. As a side note I obviously wear my emotions so they can be seen by others. Perhaps I need to work on that.

As I thought about his comment I looked back to what I had done during the day. I remembered I had done some outside work, I had chatted with two of my neighbors (at least 6 feet apart), and I saw others out and about. There were golfers going by on the golf course. I must have had a sense of moving back towards normal.

This week is mental health week and so it is a good time to become more aware of our own mental health. Perhaps if we take some time to reflect we will come to a deeper understanding of ourselves. In spite of isolation we need to reach out and connect with others. As we make those connections we will find that our mental health improves. It just simply feels good.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with our thinking. What will tomorrow, or next week, or next month bring? Live today for all its worth. Don’t let the fear of the future control today. Connect with others. Connect with yourself. And enjoy the day. Make it a good one.

“Today, just take time to smell the roses, enjoy those little things about your life, your family, spouse, friends, job. Forget about the thorns—the pains and problems they cause you—and enjoy life.” Bernard Kelvin Clive