A painting of a woman with an abstract background

As the weeks go by in quarantine, the seemingly endless time can begin to take its toll.  To varying degrees, we are all stuck. We are frozen in this moment of time and unable to make progress in many parts of our lives. None of us know what the next week or month has in store. We are all facing the unknown.

For me, this is not particularly new. This time three years ago, I was waiting to find out if and when I would be moving out of the country. For several months, it seemed likely my husband’s job was going to take us to Austria, but we didn’t know if it would happen the next month or year. I was caught in the in-between, unable to progress and move forward in my life.

I was caught in the in-between, unable to progress and move forward in my life.

In some ways, I have remained in limbo even after making the move abroad. Living in a different country has allowed me to have some great experiences, but at the same time, I haven’t been able to pursue many of my long-term goals.  

As news of coronavirus began to spread and countries worldwide went into lockdown, I realized everyone was falling into a pattern that I was all too familiar with—being made to stand still. How do we process the unknown when we cannot progress? Here are a few ideas for how to deal when faced with the unknown.

Extend grace to yourself and others.

We’re navigating an unprecedented time. We must do our best to take each day as it comes. This is not easy for anyone—not financially, physically nor mentally. Instead of setting expectations for how best to use this time, be kind to yourself for just making it through the day. 

Treat yourself with incentives.

For those who like to set goals and plan ahead, this time has been brutal. Give yourself little things to look forward to right now.

Make a list of movies you’ve always wanted to watch and start watching. Paint your nails. Make a fancy dinner just because you can. (If you think you can’t cook, then have fun trying anyways.) Read that book you’ve been putting off. Have a dance party in your kitchen. Giving yourself little things to look forward to will help you to feel like you are accomplishing something. 

Giving yourself little things to look forward to will help you to feel like you are accomplishing something. 

There is such a temptation to distract ourselves until this is over. It is really, really easy to turn on the TV and watch an endless loop of Netflix instead of tuning into what you’re really feeling. It’s okay to give your anxiety a break. However, if you’re running from your feelings, then they will eventually catch up to you. 

Try writing.

You don’t have to attempt to write the next classic novel. Instead, write what you’re feeling. Let out the internal turmoil that is quietly (or not so quietly) churning within you.

You don’t need to be a gifted writer to find release from journaling how you feel. By putting the words on paper, you give yourself relief from the thoughts running circles in your mind. 

Lean on loved ones.

Tell the people you care about when you’re having a hard time. We are all living through this together-but-separately. We are all experiencing the waves of emotions from day to day. Instead of bottling it in, talk about it. There’s power in vulnerability. 

Instead of bottling it in, talk about it. There’s power in vulnerability. 

We are all in the same boat—forced to press pause on the lives we planned. While the details of our shelter-in-place situations may differ, we are all at a point where we don’t know what the next day holds. More than ever, we can empathize with one another and show kindness.

How do you deal when faced with the unknown? What lessons can we learn from quarantine to apply to the big picture of life?

Image via Shiela Laufer, Darling Issue No. 19

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