Quarantine is a rollercoaster of emotions. It feels kind of like weather in Colorado, how it can be sunny, then rain, then snow, then sleet, then be sunny again, and then the clouds come back, all in one day. Everyone is dealing with it differently, everyone feels it differently.
Some people are quarantined in their houses with their whole families, lots of people to interact with, or be annoyed with haha. Being with people in quarantine can feel like a pressure cooker if you aren't used to being around those people all day every day for weeks on end. But being alone in quarantine is a whole different monster.
Being alone all day is something I actually do often, as a photographer a lot of my business is on the computer, editing, emailing, working on my website, marketing, writing blogs, learning new things, expanding my business, networking, etc. But I am used to all this alone time with the computer being broken up by shoots, by coffee dates, by meetings, by game nights, by seeing and interacting with friends and clients.
I have always seen myself as an extroverted introvert, so my job as a photographer videographer is perfect because I get energy from being alone and being social in small doses of each. I do love my editing days where I stay at home and edit photos and watch Netflix, and I love my shoots being active and interacting with people. Now my balance is kind of off though, and so even though I have all this time to be productive it's proving to be very hard.
I feel like being alone all day and being alone all day during a pandemic are different kinds of alone. Having a normal day, or even week, where you are home alone all day every day can feel fine if you can go out, you know there is a world out there waiting for you, that there are possibilities. It is so different being alone all day every day knowing you can't really leave. Suddenly your thoughts aren't about just this moment, this day, this week, even this month. You're trapped alone thinking about how this whole thing may affects all the different pieces of your life, you are no longer just thinking about right now, this is the rest of your future that is being altered.
Being quarantined for me has really taken a toll on my motivation. A regular day alone I might be able to knock of a bunch of to dos or at least one large to do off my list, now it feels like I have these bursts of motivation where I want to get tons of things, I feel empowered by a podcast or a post, I want to make a difference, I want to put a dent into my business work and keep getting things done! YES! I can finish painting the house, and knock out some blogs I have been meaning to write, I can update my website, and polish up my client workflows and..... then my motivation doesn't even last through the first thing I try to do.
Negative thoughts start to creep in, like what is the point, when will this end, are these to dos on my list even worth it? Questioning what I even should be doing, getting overwhelmed by the number of things I could and should be doing. Trying to keep up to date on all these podcasts and webinars and live streams about how to keep up with my business during this time and things I need to do, all the things I need to read and try and implement and think about and... so I end up doing nothing.
Well wait, not absolutely nothing, I can't just let myself chill on my couch and binge watch a show without feeling guilt about the things I need to be working on, feeling like I should at least be doing a workout while I watch, feeling guilty about being given all this time to get stuff done and then I'm doing nothing.
I feel stuck between having little to no motivation to do things, bursts of motivation that don't last long enough, but then not even being able to give into not doing anything. This results in me half or almost doing things all day feeling like I got nothing done. I need to learn how to let myself do nothing, recharge, even though that sounds silly because what am I recharging from I'm not doing anything! But mentally we are doing things, we are worrying, we are panicking, we are planning, we are absorbing, we are stuck alone with our thoughts.
Alone with our thoughts.
Is that the worst part of being quarantined alone, is that why I have to keep doing things but can't get anything done? Am I trying to distract my thoughts but listen to them at the same time, push them away but also make more. Suddenly entire life plans are coming into question. Feeling like every day that passes is wasted not being able to meet that person, or do that thing, or go to that place, or achieve that goal.
Grief, panic, anxiety. All these emotions come into play during quarantine, and then there is guilt for feeling these things when things are so much worse for others. I feel guilty about doing nothing because my husband is out there working all day in this stressful environment, because I have friends in the healthcare industry who are on the front lines working hard, and what am I doing? None of this is healthy for our brains. I need to accept how things are now, that I am doing my part by not leaving my house, by doing what I can, but also that I need to focus on my own wellbeing before I can even think about how I can help others from the safety of my own house.
We need to accept that it is okay to feel how we feel, and figure out how best we can take care of ourselves and our families first. If it is just too stressful to try and teach all your kids math, then just play a game together. If it is too stressful to try and watch every webinar about how to survive and thrive during this, then maybe just pick one, or none and watch Netflix instead. Maybe just go in your backyard and feel the sun, or try something totally new and creative, or try a new recipe you've been meaning to try. Find your own way to keep yourself mentally strong, your own way to keep things together.
Don't let your negative alone thoughts take over, find ways to stay positive, people to talk to, outlets for your stress and sources of joy and calm.
We might all be locked up in our houses alone, but in a way we are all alone, together.