Hop On. Hop Off. A COVID19 Reflection.

A NEW RIDE

A new rollercoaster ride opened at our local amusement park a month or so ago. Holy guacamole! This thing is crazy! 

 
Oddly enough, it turns out the same exact rollercoaster opened at pretty much the same time at amusement parks around the world. Even stranger, the line to get on is surprisingly short. But the ride itself seems to last forever… 
 
HOP ON.
Surely you’re thinking I’m writing about COVID19. Yes — in a way. But it isn’t the actual virus I allude to. Nor do I refer to the eerie sense of sameness each day brings. No. The rollercoaster I describe is the emotional one felt by people around the world as a result of the shared COVID19 experience we’re living.
 
Shared. Yet completely separate.

Even as we’re in this together, interconnected especially with those in our same home — eating meals together, taking walks together, enjoying conversations together, etc — this particular rollercoaster operates within the confines of our minds. No one truly understands the overwhelming wave of emotions another is experiencing. For me? Gratitude. Fear. Peace. Loneliness. Productivity. Complete and utter restlessness. Calm. Uncertainty. Up. Down. All around… Sometimes all in the space of a day! Some days are totally normal, as if Coronavirus is simply the name of a new Netflix series (i.e. completely uninteresting and unimportant to this non-TV watcher). Other days I’m first in line for the ride, hopping on over and over, and it’s possible no one else will even realize it. Most of the time anyway. Small explosions that end in tears are kind of a give-away. 😉 
 
Hop Off.

It’s been a month or more that we’ve all been in our homes. If you relate to this idea of an emotional rollercoaster to any degree, you can be sure your kids do too. While this isn’t a ride most of us are consciously choosing to get on, we can help ourselves hop off when it starts getting out of control. Kids will have a harder time hopping off, though, for the simple fact they’re still developing on an emotional level and don’t have the same capacity as adults to be self-aware. But they can be taught! 
 
Journey over destination. This phrase is akin to a personal mantra and a helpful one for this situation I believe. It means reflecting on each day instead of wondering about the end. In so doing, I’ve created a list. Not a To-Do List — but a Hop-Off List. On one side are events throughout the day that feel good versus bad. The purpose here is to create a little more awareness of how I’m spending my day (most importantly, perhaps, highlighting how many needless hours I’m spending on social media). On the other side are a list of activities I typically enjoy doing and make me feel good; things like:
 
  • Writing.. journaling or poetry.
  • Taking a walk.
  • Looking for small things that bring wonder – photographing them.
  • Chatting with a friend.
  • Crying. (Go ahead; it’ll make you feel better!)
  • Playing Scrabble. 
It looks rather elementary, and almost foolish even, to see it written here; but the power lies in the fact that if I feel like I’m on a ride I wanna get off, being able to look at a list of things and choose one is much easier than having to think of something in the moment. And this exercise provides a tangible way to share emotions with your kids. 
 
Use the idea one-on-one. Or, since many of us are sitting down for uninterrupted meals together, use meal time to reflect as a family. For those of you with children, letting them hear you think out loud about your feelings is magic! You instantly normalize the array of emotions your kids may also be experiencing but not understanding — and can brainstorm ways to help each of you feel calmer.
 
None of us asked for this virus OR the emotional rollercoaster it has caused, but there are ways we can help ourselves, and each other, hop off it. I’m interested to hear your thoughts and any tips you have to add to the topic.
Hop On. Hop Off. A COVID19 Reflection.
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