Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. The rhythm of my footfalls on the leaves is all that I can hear. I smell burning leaves in the distance. It’s cool but sunny. A perfect day to run. This is my happy place. But let’s back up for a moment to March 2020 when our world shut down, seemingly overnight. How many of us thought it would only be a week or two? ::Raises hand:: Well, here we are two years later, still living in a world of uncertainty with a worldwide pandemic that has changed so many aspects of our lives. People lost loved ones, others have lingering health issues, the divisiveness of masks and vaccines, and of course, races were canceled. For those of us in the running community this was a huge shock but I would like to think we worked together to do our best to stay motivated and kept running as a priority during this time of uncertainty.
As an outpatient mental health therapist, I have had the opportunity to hear the intimate details of how the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted so many lives. Several of my patients have lost loved ones with many others having serious cases with lasting difficulties. There is so much that is still unknown but today I am sharing these observations I’ve made over the past two years.
- No one knows what is going on. I think we have spent most of our lives thinking that when you get older you will have the answers. Wrong. I think we are all doing the best we can, most of the time. And that’s the most we can ask of anyone, including ourselves. How can you implement that idea into your own life?
- Take time. For yourself, your partner, your children, your pets, your family and your friends. We are made to believe that busyness equals contentment in life but if the slowing down of our world taught us anything, it is that we can choose (at least to some extent) where we spend our time. Where are you spending yours? Is it what you WANT to spend time doing? If not, explore the options to make a change.
- “Good enough” is enough. Nothing is going to be perfect and as all of our plans came to a screeching halt in 2020, we were able to improvise and see that “good enough” was enough. There is no such thing as perfection and the more we can face things with compassion and an open heart, the better we will all be.
- It’s okay to not be okay. Through times of such uncertainty, we must ask for help and as our heart permits, offer help to those around us. There continues to be a stigma around asking for help but as half of the population, we can change that. We can use our voices to speak out and speak up. Depression, anxiety and other mental health difficulties are nothing to keep quiet about. Let us focus on our commonalities rather than our differences.
Everyone talks about feeling disconnected but not everyone knows where to go to feel connected. I go to the trails. I go to the place where I am in the midst of the trees, can hear birds chirping and squirrels scurrying, and my mind can clear. Where do you go to feel connected? Who else is there with you? Many people I work with have discussed playing with their kids in their backyards, going on family walks or bike rides, and playing with their dogs. These are things that prior to the pandemic they didn’t have time for due to all of the demands of daily life. And now they are demanding that they be able to keep these aspects of life that they realized they enjoy so much. What did you do more of in the past two years that you want to keep doing? What did you do more of that you want to decrease? I will take a guess that if you are reading this article, you want more fun and adventure in your life. How will you make this happen? Take time to check out the local forests and parks near you. Teach your kids how to read a trail map. Make a plan for the summer of the things in your local area that you want to see. Don’t waste this opportunity by returning to the “normalcy” of February 2020. Find your new normal. You’re improved normal.
As women we are often taking on the brunt of everyone else’s difficulties due to the emotional support we are giving. By being an emotional support for so many other people, we often aren’t giving ourselves the self-care that we truly need to feel recharged. It is essential to carve out that time for yourself in order to have the ability to be that daughter, friend, mom, spouse, and worker that you want to be. In all those roles we often forget about ourselves. I challenge you to change that and make yourself a priority. So, Trail Sisters, let us lift ourselves up, lift one another up, and get the world on track with a new, positive trajectory by opening our arms and embracing one another. Perhaps not literally because, you know, Covid. Maybe air “high-fives” instead. See you on the trails.