Hitting the Quarantine Wall
Just like a marathon, this quarantine is testing our endurance. This is what happened when I hit the wall.
I started quarantine 38 days ago knowing that it was probably going to last longer than 40 days… and I wasn’t wrong.
Last week, I found out our quarantine was being extended for another three weeks and my hope that at least school would restart by the end of the Easter Holidays was dashed.
I had been surprised by the fact that my spouse and I have somehow managed to continue working whilst also homeschooling our son. A game of tag that many parents have been playing over the last weeks (I have at times ran into our makeshift office in the guestroom and have literally shouted “tag you’re it!”).
For our son, who started the quarantine excited to be spending all his time with mum and dad, the novelty of being home started wearing off by week two. And by the end of week three he was ready to get back to school and see his friends.
Yet as a parent it’s my job to keep his spirits up whilst explaining why he can’t do his favourite things. After all, I’m the adult, rational person that needs to show the way right?
Day 35: Enter tiredness and quarantine blues
For the first month during quarantine I was really productive. Laser focused during my work time and doing home school or other activities with my son when my spouse was working, we even began morning HiiT sessions.
I initially found myself full of energy and inspired to reach more people at a time when I knew meditation would help their kids. Yes there were a lot of late nights and early mornings trying to fit in a full day’s work around homeschooling and meal times (who knew three family meals a day was so time consuming!?).
Then on day 35, I woke up feeling like a bear pulled out of their winter hibernation a month early. I had no energy and no interest in doing work.
As a creative person, feeling that tired is a problem.
My creative juices are fuelled by feeling energetic, rested and inspired.
I thought it’s just today, it will pass.
Day 36 came and I felt the same, possibly a bit worse. Maybe it’s a two day thing, tomorrow it will be better I thought.
On day 37, it was no better but now there was a dollop of guilt added to the mix: I hadn’t done any work for several days, what if this continued?
Unbeknownst to me, I had hit the wall.
A Support Network
Even though I was exhausted I kept plowing ahead. Doing things that required minimum mental capacity but that needed to get done.
And then I decided to reach out to my “women crew”.
A group of badass women with whom I spent the last 6 months as part of a business mastermind. During that time we had celebrated each other during our wins and encouraged each other during our lows.
But most importantly we have been able to share our rawness, our vulnerability to each other.
With them, there is no need to sugarcoat things, I don’t have to worry about “what they will think” or “how it will look”, I can just say what I’m feeling without fear of judgment or competition, it has been truly and utterly liberating.
So I did.
I reached out and said: I don’t know why but I have no energy and feel like doing nothing, how are you guys feeling?
Now mind you, we have a Doctor in this group. She is out there everyday working tirelessly risking her life and her family’s for others.
Did I think even for a split second that either she or the others would say, “How dare you? You are just at home, don’t complain”…
NOPE, not even for a millisecond.
That’s the type of group this is and the amazing relationship we have created over the last 6 months. A few hours later the replies came in.
Nearly all of them had felt the same at some point during this quarantine, saying that it felt like they had just hit a WALL.
A Moment Of Awareness
Reading their comments and laughing at their gifs and memes I realised that this quarantine was exactly like a marathon and that on Day 35 I had hit my wall.
The “my legs are turning to jelly and I have nothing left in the tank to finish” type of wall. Perhaps I had done the rookie mistake of going too fast at the beginning or perhaps day 35 was always going to be the day the wall hit.
This quarantine was exactly like a marathon and on Day 35 I had hit my wall.
But in that moment my bleak outlook for the rest of this quarantine changed and I felt a heaviness lifted off my shoulders. Not because I was suddenly hit by a bout of energy but because, in that moment I became aware of what was happening.
Awareness is a powerful thing.
Most of the time we “sleep walk” through our lives, performing most activities unconsciously.
We don’t have to think about what we are doing when brushing our teeth, walking or eating. We just do it, no thinking, no energy required.
Yet when we focus our awareness intentionally things change. Whilst it’s true that performing certain activities unconsciously saves the brain and the body energy, I would argue that focusing our awareness on an activity actually increases our overall energy.
Hear me out.
When you are unconsciously brushing your teeth or eating, your mind is never blank. You are still thinking about the long list of things you have to do or somewhere you want to be.
So while your body is working hard to say, digest your food, your brain is also engaged in another activity — which means you are doing double the work.
But what would happen if you focus all your awareness on just eating or brushing your teeth for that moment?
You would be doing only one thing.
Which automatically gives your mind a rest. I believe this is why you usually feel more relaxed and rested after meditation, mindfulness or breath work.
Punching through the Wall
It’s day 38 today and even though there is still tiredness I have a renewed sense of purpose.
Whilst this probably means I haven’t yet broken through the wall, I’m punching at it, hacking at it slowly until it falls.
Because this marathon, this quarantine is not yet over and many of us have no idea how many miles there are left.
But it seems to me that in order to keep hacking at this wall, I need to focus on the now, on what I can do today. On how I can keep moving each leg forward.
To be truly present in each moment.
Whereas that is eating, brushing my teeth or homeschooling my son.
Thing is we are not used to living in the moment, to savour each and every activity. This is why I started meditating, to retrain my mind into staying put.
Which incidentally also seems to be an advice for runners to get through the wall… focus on the present moment.
Perhaps for those of us that are at home, that is how we get through it.
One activity at a time.
Re-training our minds to focus on one thing, to be present; without it running into 10 different directions simply because your body is doing something it has done a thousand times before.
So whatever you are doing today, give it all your attention, be present and see what happens.