What a week. When we were easing away from the gripping news cycle of case counts, watching the pandemic rise and recede, we suddenly faced the gruelling case of George Floyd. And again, the world erupts. Another battle to fight, on top of an ongoing one we still haven't recovered from. 

These battles are important. And is privilege in any world crisis when we, dear reader, can afford to turn a blind eye. Yet it's so hard to explain how difficult it is to live in 2020. Just as a human being, mentally and emotionally. 

Maybe I'm too sensitive, or maybe I spend too much time online, but I am sick of "unprecedented times" — if that isn't the mildest understatement. 

Bushfires. Pandemic. Violence. We've been getting hit, after hit, after hit, after hit. 

So my question here is the same as anyone: How do we keep our sanity intact?

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The answer to our question will be taken from this tweet by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg. Out of the chamber of noise that is Twitter, I find her guidance to be eloquent and spot on. 

There is work to be done...


I know productivity can be one of the hardest things to accomplish at such a time. But finishing an urgent task, cleaning up to-do lists, the smallest sense of "a job done" can be what helps keep me from spiraling.

  • What is a task you can finish today? Find one that feels simple. Easeful. Light.
  • If you are feeling stuck, ask for help when you need it.
  • Done is better than perfect.
  • What is something that's been sitting on your to-do list for too long? House chores count, too. How are your dishes? Your laundry? Your living room floor?
  • Practice gratitude for still having work to do.
  • If needed, scale back expectations on the outcome of your work.

There is art to be made...


You don't have to be artistic. The big misconception people have is that the focus of creative expression is the creative. But it is the expression that's important. The idea is to let something out.

  • What is a creative outlet you enjoy? If you can't think of any, here are a few you can try to start off with: singing, playing music, painting, doodling, journaling, writing, dancing, crafts...
  • Do whatever you'd like. And once you do, you have full permission to do it horribly. You don't have to be as good as your favourite Instagram artist.
  • If you can't decide whether or not you like it, think: Does it alleviate your stress? Does it lift your mood?
  • If it doesn't, listen to music instead of playing it. Consume, if making is challenging. Art is for everyone.

There is beauty to be cherished...


Slowing down to appreciate things and surroundings as they are, has a healing effect I never find elsewhere.

  • Are you noticing beauty? Name one beautiful thing about your neighbourhood. 
  • Beauty in nature: Try taking a walk, at any time of day, and leave your phone behind.
  • Beauty in yourself: There is a beautiful resilience in you for making it this far. Cherish that.
  • Beauty in the world: Now this takes a little dip into the Internet, so do tread lightly. But I, for one, still love to gush at videos of puppies, of meadows in faraway countries, of beaches during sunset. Find the corners of the Internet that are set to make you smile, and soak in that for a good few minutes of your day. Again, this isn't to ignore what is unraveling. But if a video of a butterfly is what reminds you that there is still good in this world, and it gives you enough hope for another day, then it's important.

There are people to care for...


It's tempting to want to be a superhero and save the world, but for now, at this crazy time that everyone's experiencing: Be a friend. Be a daughter. Be a sibling, or a guide. Be someone to someone, and that's good enough.

  • Have you been in touch with your family lately?
  • Are you checking in on your best friend?
  • Or think of the people checking in on you... is anyone checking in on them?
  • Are you ignoring anyone's calls? And if you are because you need time and space, is there a way, rather than neglect, to explain that to them gently?
  • Has the state of the world made you more bitter? Cynical? Less easy to talk to? If you "haven't been yourself lately", have you potentially hurt someone in the process, and apologised if need be?
  • Have you told people that they matter to you? Have you said, explicitly, with gratitude, how much a relationship/friendship means to you?

There is justice to fight for...


You don't need me to tell you this, but yes, there is justice to fight for. Especially at this time, everyday, wherever and whoever you are.

  • What are some relief funds you can donate financially to?
  • Are there petitions you can sign?
  • Are you staying informed of what causes need your attention?
  • Are there e-mails that you can send to your local authorities? Phone numbers you can call? Where do you turn to for real change to happen?
  • Are there people in your life you can educate more?
  • Vote.
  • Use your platform, or donate silently; there is no right or wrong way to fight.

There is rest needed sometimes, too.


Since lockdown began, I've realised there are a handful of things that seem to tether my sanity. But also, there are many things that I thought could "comfort" me, but instead, suck my life away.

  • Unplug. I can't recommend this enough.
  • What actually makes you feel rested? Because toxic rest is a thing. Even though you're lying in bed, scrolling through social media for 2 hours will make you more fatigued. So what actually refreshes your mind? Is it reading? Sleeping? Listening to something? Avoid rest that gives you so much brain stimuli. Rest in a way that your mind can slowly breathe.
  • Are you getting enough sleep?
  • Are you depriving yourself of weekends or days off? What changes can be made to your time management to avoid this?
  • What other things can give you peace? Rest doesn't have to be a whole day. Can you give yourself a quiet hour before bed? A quiet hour after you wake?

Pick a couple you can manage, today.


This, right here, is the most critical. Pick a couple you can manage. Don't do it all. Do what you can. Because if you try to do everything all at once, you'll face burnout, compassion fatigue, or just downright resentment for the world. That, in the end, won't serve any of us. (And trust me – it's an ugly place and I've been there.)

So here is your first step: At the start of any day, or at the end before starting another, choose two things you'll do. Just two, out of this list. Feeling a little overwhelmed? Then one will do. Maybe you'll change your mind by noon, or pick a new one up in the evening. 




Do what sustains and nourishes you. In the words of Rabbi Ruttenberg further on in the thread, "We need to be operating at full capacity — this moment in history will require the best of us."

Yes, it is rare nowadays that I still find energy to be profound. So I apologise if today's entry wasn't as "comforting" as you hoped. In many (most*) days, I, too, am a sad ball of grief, of anger. So I am in no way further up on this path than you are. Sometimes the world is heavy, and that's it.

But I take my time. This is a long fight, and will continue to be. Step forth whenever you're ready. And although I don't have power to take the world by storm, I do like to think there is a difference in the world if I make it today.

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So how have you been?

Signed,
Jo

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