We were supposed to visit my parents for a family vacation in Florida at the end of March. Our plans came to a screeching halt with COVID-19 hitting our country and the world in a fast and furious manner. Now, we are five months into life with COVID and still nothing seems normal. It’s been seven months since we’ve seen my parents, and it seems like an eternity.
When I am asked when I will see clients face-to-face again, I have no answer. When asked if I will send my son to preschool in the fall, I have no answer. When friends in other states ask when we are coming to visit, I have no answer. I think about where we were in January and where we ended up in April, and realize planning for the future feels uncertain and anxiety-provoking.
The normal calendar and traditions of the seasons feel like a setup for disappointment. How do we get through everyday life and maintain our peace and hope? How do we safeguard ourselves from anxiety and fear as we approach the fall season?
Stay here. What I mean is, keep your head where your feet are. As much as I want to be able to determine what a week will look like with a normal work schedule, school, and other routines, I don’t know. What I do know is I have control over how I process my feelings and how I focus my mind.
A thousand times a day I call myself back to the day at hand. Today, as I write this, is Sunday. This is where I will find the most peace, right here, right now, in this moment.
When I’m playing with my son and I think about how our household will navigate the very near future, I call myself back to focusing on building the block tower he wants to immediately knock down. I organize the blocks by color, next time by shape. These small, concrete decisions make me feel like all is well and that in this moment, I have control.
When I wake up in the early morning hours missing family and friends far away, I get up and try to spend 10 minutes of quiet time with my hot cup of coffee downstairs in the silence. I remind myself all I have to do is be present for this day. Not the past, not the future, just the present day.
When you feel yourself falling down the rabbit hole of the unknown, when you feel yourself wondering when you will get to see your loved ones or even host a normal birthday party, come back here. Come back to the place you stand and keep your head, for this moment, where your feet are. Repeat as often as necessary.
You are here and you are worth it.
Meghan Fritz is a psychotherapist practicing in State College. For more information, email [email protected]