In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people need a lot of interpersonal support. A year ago, on any given day, you might have needed to be there for one friend who got laid off or had a major health scare, or contributed to a single GoFundMe. (OK, or even a bunch of GoFundMes—things weren’t perfect then, either.)
Now, as the economy and the healthcare system melt down and literally everyone’s life is at risk, there’s an even more urgent need to show up for _everybody_—unemployed friends, isolated loved ones, aging or ill family members, elderly neighbors, local businesses, healthcare workers in desperate need of PPE.
“Everybody” who needs showing up for also includes you, the person who, like the rest of us, is tasked with all this caring. (And who might also be expected to do even more, if you’re a literal caregiver or have a sick relative.)
It’s a lot. There’s no way to take care of yourself and be all things to all people during a pandemic with a recession rising. One thing you can do, today, is make what I think of as a care budget: a way to think about where your most valuable resources—your time, money, and energy—are going each week. When you feel pulled in all directions, a care budget can help you functionally extend the help that you’re able to give and take care of yourself in the process.
Creating a care budget isn’t about ranking other people’s needs, which is a terrible, futile exercise. It’s about carefully considering your own needs, values, and strengths, and being honest with yourself about how much you actually have to give to others.
A few years into the illness, Janie could sense it worsening. Buzz, who had never yelled at her, now did so at the drop of a hat. Once, when she was...