It's Okay Not to be Okay

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That’s it. That’s the post. (Well, almost.)

We’re working and living through a pandemic. Everything’s weird. A lot of things are kinda fucked. Some things are really, really fucked. Many states have issued shelter-in-place orders, and many people are (hopefully) self-quarantined at home. I know that I’m in a place of relative privilege during this - my husband and I both work in tech and our companies were able to pivot to remote work. We have multiple grocery stores nearby, plus a plethora of restaurants offering takeout and several options for CSA-type deliveries.

People are being fired and furloughed. The number of people filing for unemployment is astronomical. Service workers who continue to show up and do their jobs are working under unsafe conditions. Pockets of the US are being hit incredibly hard by COVID-19 and hospitals don’t have enough supplies or people or time to care for everyone, including the hospital staff who we’re depending on.

So yeah, it’s okay not to be okay. Throw away those articles with all of the best “work from home” practices. Unless they mention having to balance your day job with your partner’s day job in a house with no office and two toddlers, that article is pretty much useless.

I’m doing my best to set a good example as a manager, and be open about taking breaks or having a hard day. I don’t want people to feel like they have to hide their hard days. I want people to prioritize self-care, whatever that might look like for them. Maybe it’s having enough work so they don’t have to think about the other stuff, and maybe it’s taking a day off so they don’t have to work through their stress.

Take desk breaks. Take deep breaths. Stretch a little. Drink some water.

Be a little kinder, a little more forgiving - especially with yourself.

If making a sourdough starter and getting into bread baking helps get you through this, do it.

If eating Nutella from the tub while binging Nailed It helps get you through this, do it.

It’s okay not to be okay.

I have days where I’m anxious, and my focus is just getting to lunch, getting to the end of the day. I have days where I’m focused and working and the day goes by really fast. Sometimes I bake or do some loom weaving, and sometimes I forget to eat and sit at my desk reading articles that stress me out.

I’m trying to check in or chat with one or two people a week. I like helping other people, and having positive interactions is something that often makes me feel better when I’m stressed, but those things also feel a lot harder right now.

It’s okay not to be okay.

There are things that people can generally do to feel better, right? Exercise. Healthy meals. Getting a good night’s sleep. But those things are easier said than done when you’re experiencing life in the middle of a pandemic.

I’m trying to set smaller goals for myself, like doing some form of exercise each day. Sometimes it’s a DVD workout, or 20 minutes on the exercise bike, or an arm workout. Sometimes it’s nothing, because I just can’t do it today.

I already know that I have a habit of skipping meals when I’m stressed, so I’m trying to make sure I eat breakfast every day. I’m doing pretty well with that, but not doing as well with remembering to eat lunch.

It’s okay not to be okay.

My office setup is not great. My desk is too high for my chair, my chair doesn’t have adjustable arms, and I don’t have a desk lamp so my face is always in shadows on video calls. On the other hand, having to be in my office every day motivated me to get the room into shape, so I have shelving in the closet and pretty curtains to hide the shelving, and I have a little reading nook that I have thus far spent zero time reading in.

I have probably 8-10 unread sci-fi and fantasy books that I keep thinking would be a great distraction right now, but I’ve been re-reading supernatural romance series because I don’t have the energy to read a new book.

It’s okay not to be okay.

Do what you need to do to get through the day. Take care of yourself. Stay well. Wash your hands. Have a conversation with someone. Take a bubble bath. Eat some ice cream. Make a cake. Feel the things you’re feeling, and know that it’s okay not to be okay.

Written on April 4, 2020