COVID, Musings

This Pandemic has Unleashed my Inner Grouch

I recall the simpler times when everyone’s hoarding toilet paper during the start of the lockdown. That was March of 2020.

By May 2020, buying trends have changed drastically and it seems like everyone’s hoarding flour now. Day 40 of lockdown and people are now seeking comfort in baking focaccia and banana bread.

Also by day 40, I am pleased to report the significant drop in workout videos in my stories feed.

I could not stand quarantine overachievers. I couldn’t stand people who are being productive during this time: doing daily pushups, enrolling online classes, doing meditation or taking up calligraphy. The nerve, people are bettering themselves while here I am, just doing my bare minimum to get through the day!

It’s not that I haven’t been trying. I’ve tried to get into a healthy routine, eating healthy and being consistent in the mat–and boom, more bad news and further extension of the lockdown. I console myself by eating a whole tub of ice cream and staying in bed 12 hours a day. In a week I will get better, but more bad news and more extension. The cycle repeats again, it’s a vicious cycle. My inner grouch is taking over as season 3 of enhanced community quarantine unfolds.

Me, essentially

I’ve come to loathe the c-word and refuse to say it now in my conversations or writing. Partly because of media overkill, and also mostly because I’ve just gotten sick of it (not literally, *cough*). I have trained myself to using ‘the virus’ or ‘the pandemic’ in its place. I have also consciously did a self-ban on other related words that have expanded into our vocabulary since the pandemic: ‘social distancing’, ‘self-isolation’, ‘quarantine’, ‘flatten the curve’, ‘the new normal’.

Irritability is a Defense Mechanism

Usually I am not a horrible person–albeit a bit passive aggressive one, I am normally very optimistic about things.

But it’s day 40 and I’ve officially reached the peak of the irritation phase in this pandemic.

We are still continually exposed to uncertain and often contradicting news and conspiracy tweets. Whole governments are lifting our spirits up and letting us down; and now resorting to gas-lighting.

It is natural for humans to fear the unknown and hate having no sense of control. Irritability is a defense mechanism, our ‘fight’ in the fight-or-flight survival mode to make sense of this VUCA world. Many of us resort to venting, ranting and lashing out.

Turns out, venting out to others is a coping skill, and it reduces the intensity and soothes our feelings. And when we hear others vent, we also learn that we are not alone in this. It confirms that we are not alone in these new, perplexing feelings.

Venting should not form into a habit. It will be unfair to your friends, passing on the burden to their sanity. At the end of the day, it doesn’t solve things. Focus on what you can control, as they say.

How to Cope with Irritability during the Lockdown

The pandemic has affected us all profoundly. This could forever change how we work, learn exercise, travel and of course–eat out. I have quickly learned the art of dining in, and have become the most ardent supporter to my friends’ budding home businesses, ordering homemade lemon cakes and chocolate chip cookies and cheesecake bars. My closest human interaction outside of the nuclear unit is the Grab driver.

Many of us have made appropriate adjustments to live in this time. We’re living in a time of non-dancers are dancing, and non-cooks are cooking. Even my boomer parents have quickly adapted to the millennial way of living of remote work, zoom conferences and K-drama binges.

But how do you avoid the unavoidable streams of anxiety every now and then?

Turns out, my overachieving lockdown friends may have been right. Rather than obsess with the news and refresh your Twitter feed every 15 minutes, give yourself a break from all the negativity. Netflix is the most obvious solution, but also try to be productive and do something new and acquire new skills.

Regular exercise is good at keeping the depression and anxiety at bay, as does meditation. You can hit two birds in one stone by going into your mat and practicing yoga.

The lockdown is difficult for extroverts especially, who need constant external stimuli and social interaction. So if you are a social person, we have all the great tools such as social media and internet that our ancestors from the 1918 influenza epidemic did not have. Host Zoom inuman sessions, Netflix parties and the like.

Don’t forget to keep a daily routine. Stay constant with your waking and sleeping schedules. Eat on time.

Watch something else entertaining, such as Netflix, or do the household work you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time for the longest time.

Know that this too shall pass. Be optimistic that humans are resilient and intelligent, and we will ultimately find a solution and take control of this pandemic. In the meantime, it’s best to focus on what we can control, and retreat to the surprisingly soothing act of kneading flour or gardening in order to comfort ourselves.

And since the city has just recently lifted the liquor ban, I’m guessing hoarders will switch from baking essentials to hoarding bottles of alcohol very, very soon.


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