“I’m depressed about everything that is going on,” my long-time friend Lin confided to me. I understood. After all, her state had been in a serious lockdown. Her fiancé was sheltering in place five states away. Now, she was stuck at home where once she was used to being busy. I thought I knew what she meant. Her next words, though, caught me by surprise. “But things have changed. With this sheltering in place, I feel like I’ve become a human being again. I’m not always hurrying and rushing around. I’m not at work 24/7.” She told me how she’s been sitting down to eat meals with her mother, sister, and daughter. And how much she’s enjoyed it. “Now that they’re talking about opening up the state again, I’m depressed. I’m afraid I’m going to lose everything I’ve gained. I think I’ve got the post-pandemic blues.”
Even though the pandemic and its aftereffects will be with us for several years, Lin is not alone in her concerns. As I’ve noted elsewhere, in addition to the experience of suffering, people have been blessed in unexpected ways.
In this article, I will share three steps to stave off the so-called post-pandemic blues and one bonus option to boost your leadership immune system as you venture forth. Even if you’ve been eagerly waiting for restrictions to lift, now that governors are relaxing guidelines, you may miss aspects of sheltering in place.
Three Steps to Stave Off the Post-Pandemic Blues
1. Consider Your Unexpected Blessings
Sheltering in place may have created unexpected blessings in your life. Start by considering how you may have:
- Simplified your life
- Spent less time working
- Let unnecessary demands drop from your schedule
- Paid more attention to family members or pets
- Reconnected with your soul
- Cleaned, organized or de-cluttered
- Slept in
- Cooked and ate meals
- Connected to friends
- Helped the people around you
- Enjoyed your yard, balcony, or time in nature
- Started or finished projects
- Learned new things
- Gained a fresh appreciation for life
2. Choose Practices You Want to Continue
Second, note the activities and practices you would like to continue. I have been walking to and from the office each day. It’s been a great way to introduce variety into my life, breathe fresh air, and watch winter move into spring. My brother and sister-in-law have been hosting Zoom dinners with friends around the country. My friend, an accomplished harpist, has been live-streaming afternoon concerts from her living room every Sunday.
3. Create Intentional Changes
Third, plan now to continue practicing life-giving habits. Pull out your calendar and map in family dinners, garden time, or prayer, and meditation. Otherwise, the tide of busyness will pull you back out to sea before you even know it. To withstand the tide takes making conscious choices.
Even so, don’t be surprised by grief, caution, and disorientation as you emerge from a more sheltered life. You have been through some big changes. So has the world around you. The landscape around you may not look or feel like you remember it. Give yourself time to get used to the new normal.
Build Your Resilience
As you begin to spend more time in the public arena, life will change again. If there were things you enjoyed about sheltering in place, it’s entirely possible to bring some of those gifts with you as you emerge. As you take these three steps, consider your unexpected blessings. Choose practices you want to continue, and create intentional changes—you’ll find that you won’t need to get a bad case of the post-pandemic blues.
As I said before, transitioning from mid-to post-pandemic won’t be a quick or easy process. Especially if you have been on the front lines of care, be gentle with yourself and the people around you. None of us have been here before. Remember that even in these difficult times, you are not alone. Draw upon the comfort of community, the strength of faith, and the guidance of God as you navigate these times.