I’ve been sorta on a disco kick lately.

We decided to take a three-day weekend at work. Good Friday was scheduled as a day off but we swapped it with Monday. We had considered skipping the holiday because of the COVID-19 epidemic, but we realized we needed to take this break for our own sanity. We are down a person, but we’ve done a TON of work over the past few weeks. We’re not going to be able to continue to cover this unfolding pandemic effectively, especially as it reaches its expected peak, if we’re mentally drained.

The decision was right on time. I was reaching a breaking point on Thursday and I couldn’t figure out exactly why. Then it dawned on me.

If you know me, you know that one of my pastimes is driving for pleasure. Because the state is in a modified lock down, I haven’t really gone anywhere, especially not for a good, long drive. Going for a ride technically is within the rules. I needed some time alone with a good playlist and some back roads. I took a roughly 90-minute break on Thursday.

I stopped for gas at that Kroger and still beat that estimated time.

U.S. 29 was business as usual. Riding through Greene and Orange counties (yes, Greene with an E borders Orange) was relaxing. I felt like myself by the time I got to Louisa County. By Fluvanna County, I was singing along and all the windows were down. When I returned to Albemarle, I felt infinitely more refreshed than I did the day earlier this week when I just couldn’t anymore and slept for nearly 10 hours. I did not wake up refreshed that day.

Then it just got better.

Last, I was on a Zoom chat with about 20 of my fraternity brothers and some of their spouses. We talked for three solid hours. It was absolutely fantastic. I shouted, I laughed, I had side conversations about people. Although we weren’t in the same physical space, it felt like being at a party.

I woke up this morning in a great mood. I honestly can’t remember the last time the morning came with me smiling and ready to go. Yes I can. It was the last time I hung out with a core group of friends. I think I thought it was perk of having a couple of three beers and shots, but I was stone sober. I needed that connection. I needed the open road.

I know the next days, weeks and months — honestly, the next year — are going to be rough. For those of us who are lucky enough to still be employed, we’re not just working from home, we’re trying to keep a semblance of normalcy while in the middle of a crisis. It’s not going to stop being stressful. Don’t forget to unplug from it for a little while. If you haven’t yet, do it. You need to.

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