Research Rehabilitation Connecting

Resource Refresh: Taking Time for Ourselves and One Another – Lessons from the Pandemic

By Karen Tiseo


Taking Time for Ourselves and One Another

Six years ago, my husband John had a near-fatal motorcycle accident resulting in a severe traumatic brain injury. When the pandemic began, we realized the stress of isolation and fear of the virus affected our emotional and physical health. We used the time to nurture ourselves and reflect on our lives more deeply. My attitude about what is important to me has changed, and I have incorporated this new perspective into my life in the form of healthy daily habits.

One of my pre-pandemic habits was to drag chores that I don’t like doing into an all-day event. Now I am motivated to complete these tasks quickly. Spending less time on chores leaves me time to explore new hobbies like knitting or gardening. When I’m really having trouble getting motivated, I play a game with myself —I set a timer for 30 minutes. You’d be surprised how much you get done in 30 minutes when you set yourself that goal.  I even finished cleaning out the garage and basement (although it did take a little longer than a half-hour).

Staying mostly indoors for the past 18 months was a challenge. Suddenly, a simple run to the grocery became “mission impossible.”  Planning and writing a shopping list with the items needed to prepare meals from scratch became fun. I found quick, easy recipes online. What a great way to save money and not waste food! I had some fresh zucchini in the fridge one night and made a delicious five-ingredient parmesan zucchini quiche with lemon garlic yogurt from a recipe I found online at Spoonful of Flavor, one of thousands of cooking sites.  

My friend Nancy taught herself how to knit during the pandemic and made a beautiful afghan and scarf and I decided to follow her lead. Many tutorials on YouTube give step-by-step instructions on doing just about anything— like knitting a pair of socks. I’m learning and have knitted one pair so far! You can even find tutorials on how to build a birdhouse, a project you can tackle with a loved one – or a friend via Zoom. I have become much more computer-literate this past year. Last week I had a computer lunch date with friends, and every Sunday, I meet with my mom and sister on Zoom.

Our family adopted a dog in March 2020 with the help of a website called Petfinder. Walking and spending more time outdoors with John and our dog has become one of our favorite things to do every day.

I find myself taking more time to listen because I’m not always rushing around. I have caught up on many things that I never got done because I was always running errands and spending money. I’m making grocery lists and taking fewer trips to the store. All of this has given me more time for John and me to enjoy each other’s company.

Although I have not lost anyone to this pandemic,  my heart goes out to those who have. For me, it has been a life-altering experience. As we slowly return to “normal,”  I am committed to remembering all these lessons learned. Most importantly, let’s take time for ourselves and one another.