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Covid Concerns

Endings are tough. We’ve been reminded of that here at this week, as a group of users finish their programme on our platform. For us coaches (known as Untapped Accelerators), it’s the end of long, deep relationships in which users have grown, shared and explored. The relationships are real - that’s what makes our programmes so effective - and though we can prepare for the ending, it’s still always painful when it arrives.

It comes as autumn seeps into winter and the end of 2021. Where I live there is a joke about being able to watch the sunset during your lunch break in December (it’s almost true). On days where the sun does make an appearance, it is against an icy cold blue sky, never much above the horizon, flooding the city with a wistful grey light. In such conditions we turn to parties, Christmas and other festivals of light, to help us manage the need to draw the curtains and hibernate.

Once again, though, we are left without the ending we yearn for in the pandemic. Despite the year’s natural rhythms, we’re once again in a place of uncertainty, unsure whether vaccines will be as effective against a new variant, whether we might face new restrictions again when we all so hoped we’d left them behind. The pandemic refuses to hand us the clean ending we want so badly.

Many of us are having conversations about how this is impacting us. Because we need endings. Just like the rhythms of the year, or a programme of work with our Users, the clarity of an ending brings pain but also a relief. We need to know where we stand, to be able to process, mourn and begin to move on. Yet Covid-19 offers little neat comfort in this way, not yet anyway.

Many of our users have talked about feeling particularly drained and irritable this year. Some have reacted to news of the new variant with a sigh and a resigned feeling of ‘here we go again.’ It is hard, perhaps, to summon much energy to worry or care at this point. For others, anxiety at the risk of infection or a new lockdown has started to rise again.

It’s important that we all pay attention to these moods and how they’re affecting us and those around us. We are now reaching 22 months of huge uncertainty and anxiety. We’ve been through lockdowns, waves, variants, travel restrictions, vaccination drives, relaxations of restrictions - and re-impositions. Many of us have lost loved ones to the virus, or seen businesses fail. Parents have faced months of home-schooling, and children have missed key educational and social experiences.

The amount of stress we have carried over the past two years has varied, but few people haven’t been affected and many of us have been permanently changed by the pandemic. What many of us need now is a rest from having to think about it, some space to process what has happened, and perhaps to have a national conversation about it. But the virus seems to have other ideas.

In the absence of that space, we must take some for ourselves. Check in with your emotions and the people you are close to. If someone feels more irritable than normal, or drained, or strained, maybe see how they’re doing. Ask yourself the same questions, and if you need rest and have the space to take it, then do.

One end we can count on is Christmas, even if things aren’t entirely back to normal yet. So, if you can, take the holiday time this year and nurture yourself as best you are able. Be with the people you love, eat well, and rest. One day we’ll realise that the pandemic truly has ended (even if Covid-19 is now around forever), and we can celebrate that ending in all its joy. Until then, we can take the endings we have and acknowledge them, succumbing to the pause in our everyday routine, and relishing in the relief that this may offer.

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