Gratitude: The Greatest Quarantine Lesson We Can Learn

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Making sense out of chaos by applying gratitude lends the balance needed to endure a hard situation.

It’s been weeks since the onset of the coronavirus here in our region. Since this time, in addition to the role of wife and mother, I have inherited the roles of chef, employee, teacher, and entertainment director. Not to mention, a multitude of other monikers–all while our country is in a state of crisis.
Give Thanks

None of these roles are ones I anticipated receiving at the onset of 2020, but alas, here we are.

Like many parents, I spent the first week overwhelmed with my head-spinning, looking at every color-coded schedule and chore chart, vigilant to follow them. I was thinking that this FREE printable would be my guiding light helping our family find direction or even get back to a state of normalcy. But this felt, and was, entirely different. Even my kids were different, looking to my husband and me for answers (stated or unstated) in such upheaval. My anxiousness was wrapped up in the uncertainty of when this would end, along with the not knowing. Honestly, for once, I didn’t have the answers to fix this or even know how to help.

As I always do, I turned quickly turned to the news, online articles, anything I could absorb–looking to research as much as possible. I was hoping to reduce the “chop” in these uncharted waters. Until I found one quote by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, that stood out to me-

‘You don’t make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline’.

This statement stopped all my in-depth research in its tracks. I quickly realized that we were in this for the long haul. We had an unknown timeline and destination. For once, this situation was something I couldn’t control, but I knew I needed to prepare myself for the disruption (more than anything, the mental disruption) that would undeniably be with us for a long time. So although I couldn’t control this virus, I could control my attitude and behavior towards our situation. I could find silver linings and optimism, all the while refusing to turn my back on the known hardships people are facing around us. I am learning to see hope and opportunities for gratefulness amid a challenging, grueling situation. Social Distancing

Social distancing does not mean emotional distancing.

As the news began announcing ‘shelter in place’ mandates across the country, we settled in like most, absorbing the permanency of our situation. This quarantine has brought forth a range of emotions, and I will admit that I am happy to see a multitude of people taking pause and practicing mindfulness in their lives—most of all, to witnessing moments of gratitude all around us.

It is not an easy feat, but I, too, have chosen to follow a path of gratitude. Of course, these are stressful times, but as I reflect on each day, I am challenging myself to be more grateful than the day before. So, if you’re struggling to find a silver lining, here are some ways I am choosing to show gratefulness or C.A.R.E. during these trying times:

Connect

Zoom, Facebook Messenger, the Houseparty app, Google Hangout, Marco Polo, or WebEx. Pick one and call someone who’s been on your mind or you miss seeing in-person. There are so many virtual ways to fulfill the need to be near someone and share updates about daily life. Plan an agenda or don’t, but try to make it happen. Seeing the warmth on people’s faces during this trying time can be so encouraging and replenish our cups for connection.

Ask 

“How are you holding up?” “What was the hardest part about today?” “Are you feeling okay?”  “What’s worrying you, considering everything going on?”–simple, yet honest and raw conversation openers. This pandemic is causing many to inhabit a place of transparency with a willingness to share. There’s no divisiveness between personal and professional; we’re showing up as our whole selves. Be ready to embrace, but don’t force. Give grace to the responses or actions you receive or the ones you don’t. Everyone is processing this situation in different ways. Learn that gratefulness looks different for everyone and try not to minimize their issues. You can be grateful AND grieving. 

Journal

React

Feeling passionate and ready to act? Start or join a neighborhood group to keep in tune with community needs. For example, my subdivision started one to share the critical needs of the elderly and compromised individuals in our area. This group is finding connections to assist with making masks for nearby hospitals, packing lunches for children in underserved populations, sharing printables for moms teaching at home, or even grocery shopping for older residents unable to get to the store. My proudest moment was seeing our community band around a homebound new mom who was in dire need of formula. Through the network, we found more than enough unopened cans and set them on her doorstep. Still social distancing and staying safe but addressing someone’s needs.

Express

Say it plainly, and don’t let the moment pass. First, write your own daily moments of gratitude. Whether big or small, serious or silly–don’t complicate it. Second, focus on those teachers, healthcare workers, community helpers, or front-line essential workers. Whether you know someone personally or in passing, express gratitude for all that they’re doing. Thank them and salute them for their work during these unprecedented times. A small note or post of appreciation can go a long way, BUT make sure to keep that same energy flowing when times return to normal. Remember their selfless acts to support us in this critical time, continue to express it, and hold others accountable to do so as well.

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