Monday, March 23, 2020

Leaning in to the Malaise

If you find yourself sinking deeper into a sense of malaise, you are not alone. "Safer at Home" may have a more comforting ring to it than the you're-stuck-now "shelter in place" directive, but the abrupt about-face in everyone's day-to-day schedule is beginning to wear.

Last week, I had a strong sense that, despite not being able to get together with friends and fellow genealogical society members, the most therapeutic thing we could do for each other was to keep in touch. Not physically, of course, but by reaching out through text messages, emails, social media, or even those old-fashioned phone calls where, you know, people still can talk to each other.

This week, I'm taking my personal pick-me-up cue from a friend, and focusing on taking action. That friend, in a social media post last week, mentioned that she had just cleaned out a closet which she had apparently not attended to for thirty years. Imagine the history. Or at least the dust.

At first, it inspired me to find something to do—and I mean physically do. There are always a lot of items on that to-do list that never seem to see the light of day. There is always too much else to do to get it all done, but now that we have the "luxury" of more time on our hands, well, there ya go.

But then, I realized there was a second reason this would be a worthwhile idea for our current situation: the psychology of the activity. It can be downright depressing to think there is "nothing we can do" in the face of this crisis. It seems like a hurry-up-and-wait dilemma, with no end date in sight. Taking action—any type of positive, physical action—in the face of this barrier can give us an opposite feeling of taking charge or making a difference. Even if it is just cleaning out that forsaken storage closet.

Taking steps toward a worthwhile goal helps kick in those creative juices we call upon for problem solving. While the problem we solve will certainly not be as weighty as finding a cure for a newly-generated virus, the action of solving our problem will generate its own sense of accomplishment. That, in turn, leads to encouragement and the sense that, in doing something, we are taking back control over our own lives.

There are plenty of tasks out there, er, in here to conquer. Some may be work-oriented or focused on home life. Others, especially for those of us who are drawn to family history, may help us achieve our genealogy goals in a more organized manner. After all, who doesn't have files, documents, photos, or family papers yet to organize? And this week, we can all get around to it. And begin to feel better about our situation.


  1. Yes I have several things I could work on...:)

    1. You have! I just noticed you sent home a couple new "Full Circle" pictures on your Forgotten Old Photos blog--how exciting!


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