Dear Readers - The stress is getting to many of us.
COVID-19 has wrought, along with fear of contracting the virus or having it strike someone close to you, a disturbing level of uncertainty and pressure.
We don’t know whether “opening up” some businesses and easing social distancing will assure that we’ll be safe before there’s a vaccine available… in a year or longer.
Meanwhile, stress lives within and strains our relationships.
One woman writes: “I can’t believe how controlling my husband is about every decision regarding our being stuck at home. If I want to order groceries, he insists on shopping in a store, which worries me more. We’re constantly arguing. We won’t last this pandemic.”
A single woman, used to regular gym workouts, constant social media connecting, the bar scene and swiping for dates, writes that she’s depressed. “My life was so full and now it feels empty. I’m constantly alone and hating it.”
A couple whose children and grandchildren can’t visit them in person for fear of passing on the virus, say, “It feels like a punishment for being old.”
As I read their letters, I, too, feel the stress of responsibility, to give advice that has meaning in the midst of so much uncertainty.
Of course, there’s always been stress in our lives. It’s a normal response to situational pressures. But this one calls on all the inner resources we can muster.
To the woman who feels ready to end her marriage of constant battles for control, I say, “You’re both too stressed to handle it. Agree to disagree, find time/place to be “apart” even if living in a small apartment.
“When this difficult time has passed, you’ll both know if it’s a signal to be grateful together, or you’re just not well-matched for rising above a crisis together.”
To the young woman, alone and bored: “You have so much to contribute of yourself, with the ability to bring energy to any project that you choose.
“You and your social media network have the strength of numbers and creativity to support front-line workers with campaigns to feed them, with making art/music to encourage them, and with raising donation funds to help the most vulnerable such as homeless people needing safe shelter.”
As for singles’ missing dating and sex, there’s the positive side of the new-normal through online relationship-building, which I’ve written about before, including online sex play.
Unfortunately, our elderly generation living in nursing and long-term care homes, have every right to stress as their exposure to the coronavirus was ill-met with understaffed facilities, lack of protective gear for nurses and caregivers, and lack of staff.
But to healthy seniors staying at home, I remind you, “Your families are protecting you by not visiting and potentially spreading the virus.
“However, you do need virtual contact with relatives, friends, and neighbours, easily available through your phones and social media.”
There are so many anti-stress online resources available to us all - including social workers, psychologists, addiction and smoking cessation counsellors, tele-health conferences with medical personnel, fitness instructors, and far more.
There’s no gain from mulling on worries, or, worse, wrapping yourself in anger at the “system” that’s relying on medical science and political leadership charged with choosing the safer path.
We’re all being trusted to not let the stress take over.
Instead, contact someone online in a field that you’re concerned about, and ask for help.
Reach out and they’ll reach back.
FEEDBACK Regarding custody arrangements for children of divorced co-parents (April 20):
Reader – “In Ontario, children can have a say (before age 18) about where they want to live and with which parent, regardless of a custody agreement between parents.
“My step-son, at 16, decided he had had enough of his father and unilaterally decided he wanted to stay with his mother and I. His father called the police.
“When they spoke to my step-son, determined his age and confirmed this decision was entirely his own (we were encouraging him to continue visiting his father until he at least finished high school), they told his father that he had no case.”
Ellie – “Readers in different Canadian provinces or living in the United States, should learn what the law in each jurisdiction provides, regarding child custody agreements in separations and divorce, and whether they’re affected/ open to change, based on a child’s age and stated wishes.”
Tip of the day:
Coronavirus stressed? Hang in and reach out. There are online resources for most concerns. We are in this together.