Emily Jaycox editorial

Are you nearing your threshold? You’re not alone

Rumours and whispers of a virus outbreak and growing epidemic started before Christmas last year, with concern gradually increasing as it reached Canada, and eventually Alberta.

For many, the closure of schools on March, 15, 2020 marked the beginning of the pandemic here at home. With that shocking blow came the lock downs as well.

Now, with the pandemic stretching into its ninth month, Albertans’ collective mental, emotional and physical well-being is being stretched as well.

The word “threshold” has been coming to mind lately. It’s defined as: the magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction to occur.

There is not one person alive today who hasn’t been impacted by this virus in some way, whether large or small, direct or indirect, and we’ve all been affected in different ways.

We’ve lost a lot this year, and while one loss may not equate to another’s, it’s still O.K. to grieve that loss and acknowledge it.

Some may have lost loved ones, others their income or business, or time with family and friends, or perhaps suffered setbacks in their hard-won battles with mental health. Spiritual strength may have dwindled with the diminished ability to congregate with others of one’s faith.

There have been missed birthday parties, traditional graduation ceremonies and other celebrations, and lost opportunities to say good bye. Some of these losses we will never get back.

Maybe you said to yourself, “this will be over in two months, I can wait,” and that was your mental threshold. Then maybe as summer events started being cancelled, you moved that threshold, and said “I just have to hold on until fall,” and then moved it again, saying “Surely by Christmas …”

For some, the thought of being able to celebrate Christmas with loved ones may have been a hope held tightly to, as a metaphorical, ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ — something to keep one moving forward.

Now, with Christmas just a month away, and active cases rising — seemingly all around us — many will be choosing not to gather with family. That particular hope may be getting dimmer.

Many are getting closer to their threshold, where it can’t be pushed back any further; their breaking point.

Depending on your personal experiences, you may have already reached your threshold, where the magnitude of your losses has caused you to break down, or perhaps you have multiple times, and that’s O.K. too.

Being emotionally resilient doesn’t mean never breaking down, or having a bad moment, but learning how to pick yourself up afterwards and moving forward once again.

For me, Halloween turned out to be a bit of an emotional blow. It’s not usually a very significant holiday to me personally, but because of the state of things in Calgary where my family is, they decided to hold a family party instead of trick-or-treating.

We decided not to go and I figured missing it wouldn’t be a big deal. We had our own plans and we could do a video call instead. I also didn’t want to increase their risk or ours. So we stayed home.

Well, when the video started and I saw my family gathered without us, and all of them wearing costumes, and the house fantastically decorated complete with lights and a giant spider on the ceiling, I had to hand the phone to my husband and go have a good cry.

I don’t remember ever seeing my parents dressed in costumes before, and the sight of my mom in a silly clown outfit made me lose it. It was something my family had never done before, and likely won’t again, and I missed it.

Losing going to that family party is a small thing compared to what others have lost, and I acknowledge that as well as knowing it’s still O.K. for me to be sad about it anyways.

I do have a lot to be grateful for, and I believe choosing to dwell in gratitude can be a powerful antidote for all the things that would otherwise weigh us down.

Rather than being discouraging, I want to be encouraging. Whether you’re struggling, not O.K. right now, or are getting tired of moving back your ‘threshold’ yet again, you’re not alone.

One thing we haven’t lost is the connection and sharing of ideas possible through social media. I’ve often found information that has been helpful or inspiring by seeing what others post.

In closing, I’ll quickly share a couple of the gems I’ve come across recently.

One was, when tasks becoming overwhelming, run the dishwasher twice. This means, if scrubbing the dishes before loading them feels like too much, you don’t have to do it. Make your life as manageable as possible.

Two, we can ‘hack’ our happiness by doing activities that stimulate chemicals in our brain, such as serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphin, by simply playing with a dog, completing a task, taking a walk outside or eating dark chocolate. I personally endorse the chocolate one.

Stay safe everyone, and take care of yourselves and each other.