It All Feels the Same
/ Author: Andre van Heerden
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It All Feels the Same

We’re all stuck in the seemingly never-ending drudgery of lockdowns—it’s up to us how we choose to face each day

By André van Heerden, Communications Director

While waiting for a Zoom meeting to begin, several of us were catching up with some small talk. One person asked if anyone had seen a good movie recently. We all thought for a moment, but no one jumped in with anything to offer. Then one director said, “I’ve watched so many that I can’t remember any of them!” 

We immediately understood what he meant. With the pandemic keeping most of us at home, and with most activities shut down, the number of movies and TV shows that we’re consuming has increased dramatically. Plus, with one day feeling very much like the day before—and every other day—it becomes difficult to differentiate experiences.

The same sort of thing can happen with a workday. The routine of getting up, getting ready for work, going to work, doing the same job, returning home, having dinner, and falling asleep can cause everything to blend together. 

This may lead to feeling numb or tired, or desperate for a change. Unfortunately, for some the solution may be to break up the routine with substance abuse or other risky behaviour. It’s easy to begin to feel disconnected and uninspired, and our minds stray away from the work tasks at hand.

I find something that helps is making mental notes of highlights, unique details, or things to be thankful for. It doesn’t change the actual task or moment—which may be very much the same as it was previously—but it helps us to recognize something noteworthy about it.

When talking to my colleagues about their weekends, they invariably say that it was quiet and pretty much like many before it. There’s not much to do during a pandemic in the winter. 

My initial reaction was much the same. But I find that if I focus on something specific, even somewhat routine events become memorable. 

I got to sleep in without feeling guilty. My son baked delicious muffins all on his own—with zucchini! My daughter made a new pasta dish with shrimp. We spent hours on a local skating rink with borrowed and second-hand skates. We got to play a board game where someone had the oddest strategy. All are examples of unremarkable events turned extraordinary, with a simple shift of focus.

This approach can be applied elsewhere, too. A common strategy in remembering people’s names is to attach a description or observation to it. I do this with great success with the players on my soccer teams. 

Saihaj has twinkle toes (very skillful). Niko is fearless and speedy. Julian never loses a tackle. Mateo is always smiling. Without the attached description, the boys’ names all commingled. But by adding a specific detail, I remembered them all after our first practice.

So in answer to that original question about if I’ve watched any good movies recently, there are a few: Jojo Rabbit, about a young boy and his imaginary friend, Hitler; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, about a writer connecting with a book club that formed out of the toughest of circumstances; and the original Jumanji with Robin Williams, a fun adventure that’s surprisingly more intense and scary than the remakes with the Rock. 

It’s amazing how much there is to take in and appreciate, even when it can all feel the same.

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