Life in a pandemic #2: Trying out new ways

By the end of that first month, my cabin fever was raging. I was miserable, physically and mentally. I was anxious and lacked perspective, maybe I was even slightly depressed. My spirit felt caged with no end in sight.

I started taking short walks to different parks in our area. My better half was able to organize a car from time to time and we took a couple of drives around the city, extended our radius ever so slightly. I also had my first socially distanced meeting with a friend and her husband. All these things helped a lot. I didn’t feel as stuck anymore. The world seemed a little brighter. I felt like I could breath a little easier.

Relationship challenges and opportunities

Nevertheless, being confined together in a 55 sq m (550 sq ft) 1-bedroom apartment came with its own set of challenges. My significant other and I had been living together for about 8 months by that time. And the first month of shelter in place felt like a big and exciting sleepover. I worked in the living room throughout the day, my love generously conducted his work from the bedroom. We would spend our lunches and evenings playing board games and watching TV shows and the news.

But the grind and wear down was tangible about a month in. The monotony of our everday had left us raw. Being each others’ only social contact, we subconsciously put a lot of silent expectations on each other. We both felt tense and were walking on egg shells around each other. A lot of things were left unsaid and were festering beneath the surface before they would suddenly erupt into arguments.

It took some butting heads, compromises, self-reflection and honest conversations for us to grow, both individually as well as collectively. And as painful as some of it was, I am grateful for the pandemic forcing us to confront our issues. Life before was so full of actual and self-made distractions that it would have taken us years to get to the point where we are now. Our darker hours were the catalyst for some deep soul searching and healing of old wounds and trauma. And we are so much better for it now.

New footing in a new normal

Throughout the pandemic, I have tried my hand at different hobbies and and pass times (with blogging being the latest). Yoga, walks, TV shows, video games, reading… I’ve gone through different phases, trying different ways to keep mentally healthy and balanced.

This also includes meeting my girl friend once every 1-2 weeks. We usually meet in some part of the city, usually at some form of dessert spot as a starting point and then go for long walks around that neighborhood. It’s a lovely change of path and scenery. And even though we get snacks to-go, it feels like some form of longed for normality.

One of my bigger challenges has been to find a good life balance. I love my job as a market researcher and with not a whole lot of reasons to put work down in the evening, I have a hard time to turn the computer off at the end of the day. Nevertheless, this tends to bite me in the butt. By the time the weekend comes around, I am often exhausted and maybe even moody and irritable. It doesn’t come naturally, but I am trying to become more mindful and make better choices.

This goes hand in hand with mental health. And to be honest, it’s been a slight up and down throughout this year for me. I’ve had optimistic highs, but also phases of mild depression, as I imagine a lot of people have. It can be tricky to acknowledge and work through all these conflicting thoughts and feelings while keeping realistic regarding the present and the future. But it’s become a little easier to move through the different phases and realize that all of them are temporary.

Most of our lives got put on hold or our plans got thrown over board alltogether this year. In the beginning of 2020, I wanted to make the most out of my (new) hub in New York City and travel around the USA as well as to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and potentially South America. But as for many, COVID-19 canceled most of my travel plans this year. While the case numbers where low and cleared my conscious, I took three 1-week trips within the United States: One staycation in Irvington (New York), one long distance trip to Maui (Hawaii) and a family visit to stay with my parents in Virginia.

Nevertheless, the biggest adjustment was to not be able to see my family and friends in Germany this whole year. Missing birthdays, holidays and life events… that felt rough. I know it’s for a greater good and so that we all make it out of this… hopefully unscathed. But there are days when I miss them all terribly and pray for things to change overnight.

How about you?
How have you been living through the pandemic?

Cover picture was taken in Manhattan, New York (USA) in May 2020

Missing the beginning of this serie?
Life in a pandemic #1: The start of a crazy year

13 thoughts on “Life in a pandemic #2: Trying out new ways

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  1. Great to read such an honest “review” on your lockdown time during Covid-19 🌸. We’ve been married for 24 years and even us had some difficult times during the lockdown … but we’ve made real efforts chatting to each other when we felt the need to – that helped a lot to prevent any arguments or misunderstandings (and the occasional glass of wine of course πŸ˜‰).
    Best of luck … be there for one another πŸ’Œ

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your perspective. This past year has honestly had its (sometimes harsh) challenges but also provided so many opportunity for growth and transformation. And I am so grateful for that.
      Stay safe and healthy πŸ’•

      Liked by 2 people

  2. As a fellow New Yorker, it was tough to see the city (which I refer to as my “first love” lol) go through the lock down, the pandemic, and all the ways it changed how the landscape of NYC looked. For me, there really was nothing about work that changed because I was still going into the office since the beginning of shelter-in-place, taking the subway, etc. It was a relief to see coworkers on a regular basis and socialize with them. The “Hi, how are you?” questions actually became genuine questions and not just something to say for the sake of conversation. What changed for me (and everyone else) was going out, being social with people other than coworkers and hubby, and just BEING around people. In some ways, I’ve enjoyed not having to pack like sardines on the train and see empty streets (especially back in March/April — though not as crowded pre-pandemic, it’s actually a bit too crowded nowadays for my liking) though eerie as it was. The hardest thing for me was not being able to celebrate with friends and family for birthdays, graduations, birth of children, or even gather for more somber affairs like funerals or memorials for people I knew that died of COVID or for other reasons. And unfortunately I’ve personally known more than a handful of people that have died during this time. That park SUCKED. Not being able to hug anyone else other than my husband was something I never realized would be so hard and something I realized I need and want to do with others and get from others.

    I’m lucky because by NYC standards, the apartment I live in is pretty big. I have 3 bedrooms (well it’s legally a 2BR) and this provides space from me and my husband when we start getting on each other’s nerves. He can go to his corner and I can go to mine. lol. Still, that can be boring scenery day after day. But we did take advantage (especially in the warm months) to just be outside whenever we could — be it the park, or taking a drive to Hudson Valley or Upstate NY. I’ve been a New Yorker all my life and I never traveled as much in-state as I did this year. And I suppose that’s a good thing to take away from all this.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Cara, for your beautiful recount of your experience. I am sorry to hear that you have lost people to the pandemic.

      Yes, social interactions have drastically changed and the commonly empty “How are you?” seem to have gotten more genuine. I also get the impression that it had become more acceptable to be honest and transparent since in some ways, we have all been going through very similar life hurdles. Hopefully that will stay true after this weird episode is over. I believe that we can all benefit from a more human and authentic environment.

      What has been your favorite place to discover in New York state?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ah too many places to mention! So many cute Hudson River towns, like Beacon and Cold Spring. This spring, we walked across the new bike/pedestrian path on the Tappan Zee Bridge (I can’t bring myself to call it the Mario Cuomo Bridge because it’s always been the TZB to me). The Adirondacks are so beautiful. Also a place we discovered (a few years ago, not during this pandemic) is Letchworth State Park. That place was pretty cool.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such an amazing post, so real and so honest. Totally refreshing. 2020 has been a weird year but due to the nature of my life, I’ve felt so much on the periphery and to be really honest, beyond the odd thing here or there like not being able to get my hair cut, and 7 weeks at the same job in March and April, I haven’t really been affected. The news has affected me and I worry for my daughter and her business, and I worry about my family spread all around in different countries, but on the whole, my life hasn’t changed much…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, your comments always mean so much to me πŸ₯° I am glad to hear that you have been on the periphery and I sincerely hope that your daughter and the rest of your family get to stay as unaffected as possible as well. Hang in there! We will hopefully get through this.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Prior to the pandemic, I’d spent the previous five years traveling a LOT, as well as moving between the US and France as my “home base.” Since the pandemic hit came as a huge shock, then, as I hadn’t stayed put in one place (let alone one country) for the past almost-six years. Being unemployed during a notable chunk of the year didn’t help, either. But like you, it really got me to focus on myself again, as I had been busy pulling late-shifts at my previous job that I didn’t have the time to pursue hobbies and exercise as much as I’d wanted to. Since lockdown earlier this year, I was able to get back into playing the piano and violin, going on consistent runs, and writing regularly. Although it’s a bit different now, with a full-time job, I still try to keep up the activities I pursued while unemployed and under lockdown. Guess I have to thank the pandemic for that, morbid as it sounds!

    Liked by 3 people

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