Returning to a Post-Pandemic World

Rebuilding our habits and behaviors after the pandemic is going to require some new skills. How we celebrate what we've become in the last year might be important in defining who we are in years to come.

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The last year has been traumatic. For all of us. In some way or another, we’ve been impacted by COVID and it’s upended our lives. We’re talking about transitions on the show in this series and coming to terms with the change we’ve endured in the last 18 months will be important in defining what we want the coming years to look like.

As inspiration, Nikki started with an article by Sari Solden, Imagining Life After the Pandemic: Helping Women with ADHD Move Forward with Purpose. In it, Solden outlines her ADHD-friendly blueprint for re-imagining life in a post-pandemic world.

But she wrote the article just a few months ago and we’re already shaken by the changes in the world since. As rapidly as events evolve around is, we’re challenged to adapt more quickly than ever. Feeling guilty about the things you didn’t get done? Loving that you don’t have to say “no” so much these days simply because you’ve been invited to do so much less? Worried about your rituals and losing what you’ve gained in the last year?

You’re not alone. All that and our own reflections on our collective return to a new world, one in which we exist with a new kind of pandemic, and adapt our behaviors to whatever that may bring us and those we love.

Episode Transcript

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Pete Wright: Hello, everybody, and welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on TruStory FM. I’m Pete Wright, and I’m here with Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer: Hello, everyone. Hello, Pete Wright.

Pete Wright: Hello, Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer: We are in a post-pandemic world, but I don’t believe that. I think we’re still in a pandemic world.

Pete Wright: Yeah, I think the post-pandemic world… The first rule of the post-pandemic world is to realize you’re still in the in the pandemic world, right?

Nikki Kinzer: Yes, I agree. So we have a lot to talk about today about this.

Pete Wright: We really do.

Nikki Kinzer: This transition is important.

Pete Wright: It’s a tough one, especially if you’re following up on last week’s conversation about the challenges of transitions, especially with ADHD. So it’s a good Part 2, I’m very excited about it. We should get right to it. Before we do that, head over to takecontroladhd.com. You know the drill. You’d get to know us a little bit better right there on the website. You can listen to the show right there, you can subscribe to the mailing list. We’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released, or you can reach out to us on Facebook or Twitter, @takecontrolADHD.

Pete Wright: If this show has ever touched you or helped you make a change in your life for the better with ADHD, we encourage you to visit patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. That is where we have our listener-supported podcasting stuff. You go there, you give us a few bucks a month, and you get access to some neat perks. One of them is the live stream, you could be watching, oh, what you would have missed this morning in the live stream by watching on if you’re a patron.

Nikki Kinzer: I’m rolling my eyes.

Pete Wright: Yeah, that’s what we’re doing right now. She’s rolling her eyes. She knows she wanted to talk about gross medical stuff.

Nikki Kinzer: No, I really didn’t.

Pete Wright: She did.

Nikki Kinzer: But thanks, Pete, for that.

Pete Wright: She did. No, it’s okay. We’re moving on. And so you could see all kinds of fun stuff that we do on the live stream before the show goes live. You also get access to super secret Discord channels, depending on the level that you’re in over there. And our current goal, our current stretch goal is when we reach, I think it’s now four more patrons, we’re going to start doing a second podcast for members only, and that podcast is me talking about technology and processes and tools and stuff. And that’ll come out every two weeks, and so we’ve got 24 steaming episodes of Fresh Pete Podcast to deliver.

Nikki Kinzer: That’s right. Oh, Fresh Pete, that should be the name.

Pete Wright: Yeah, Fresh Pete. Oh, no, what about Soliloquy?

Nikki Kinzer: No. I like Fresh Pete.

Pete Wright: Okay. Oh no, now I need a whole new Fresh Prince of Bel-Air aesthetic.

Nikki Kinzer: Yes.

Pete Wright: Okay. Well, we’ll see how that goes. A new name every week on Pete’s podcast, you never know what it’s going to be, so very excited about that. So if you’ve been thinking about joining the Patreon group for a while, you get all kinds of fun other perks, and you get to join Study Hall, Nikki’s Study Hall. That is a freebie thrown in with your membership. There are all kinds of other perks you can learn more about at patreon.com/theadhdpodcast. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support.

Nikki Kinzer: All right. So let me go ahead and set the stage around where I found the inspiration for this podcast. We’re doing a series around transitions, and I was doing some research and looking for different kinds of transitions that we deal with. And I came across this article in ADDitude Magazine from Sari Solden, and it was around returning to a post-pandemic world. And now, this article was written in the spring of 2021. And probably at that time, if we think about that time compared to where we are now in the fall of 2021, it probably looked a little more promising to say post-pandemic world back then.

Pete Wright: Oh, how the world turned.

Nikki Kinzer: Yes. So what I want us to do is I think… I feel that the article had some really good points and had some really good ideas and ways of how to get back into transition from being at home. Granted though, I will say, and we talked about this a little bit at the beginning, I don’t necessarily think that we’re in a post-pandemic world, I think we’re still right in the middle of it. This is not going to be a show around politics or what we think or not think about vaccines. I just want to make people know that that’s not what this is about. This is about transitioning from not being in school, going back to school. Being in an office, 8:00 to 5:00, and then all of a sudden, your world changes and you’re at home, and now you have to go back to the office. So these are just things that we have to deal with regardless of what your beliefs are.

Pete Wright: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Nikki Kinzer: So I thought it’d be fun to go through the different points in the article, and we’ll make sure to put the article in our show notes so you can read it yourself. And Pete and I are going to have our own spin on it.

Pete Wright: I just love that you opened the conversation with, "I thought it’d be kind of fun to talk about returning to a post-pandemic apocalypse world." That is the kind of rosy sunshine attitude that I count on from you, Nikki Kinzer.

Nikki Kinzer: I am so optimistic about this.

Pete Wright: Yeah. Yes, hardcore.

Nikki Kinzer: I’m going to be like Rob Lowe in that show, Parks and Rec.

Pete Wright: Hello, pandemic.

Nikki Kinzer: Hi, pandemic, welcome. Yeah. All right. So first point is not feeling guilty about what you did or didn’t get done during the pandemic. Okay. So this is something that I think is important for us to recognize because I definitely see it with clients. I see a lot of clients feeling bad that they not only didn’t get everything that they thought they could get done during a shutdown, but they feel bad about not getting things done anytime, so I think it’s a really important point to talk about it. And what she says, and this is her quote, "The last year was not a vacation, and it was not a sabbatical, it was a trauma. As a result, our psyches have changed. We should give ourselves a break and realize we’ve all gone through something unprecedented."

Pete Wright: Unprecedented.

Nikki Kinzer: I can’t say that word. Unprecedented, yeah. You can leave that in there, I don’t care. Millions of people have lost loved ones and/or had the disease themselves, suffering terrible losses, and I just think it really is something that we have to take a step back. And at the beginning of the shutdown of everything, all of these things came up about organizing your home and decluttering, and you can look at the museums and start a new hobby online. And there were just all these things, which all makes sense. I mean, I can see why they came up because we want to use our time somehow, right?

Pete Wright: Sure.

Nikki Kinzer: But there’s also an amount of pressure that comes with that. And I just thought this was a really good reminder of remembering this was a traumatic transition that none of us were expecting, and we still don’t know how it’s going to end or if it’s going to end or how it’s going to end, and to give yourself some grace.

Pete Wright: I think that’s really important. I went through that. I don’t know about you. I mean, I absolutely went through that phase of, "Oh, we’re in a pandemic, so that must mean I have the opportunity to do a lot of things that aren’t normal," right?

Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright: And that I feel like, again, in the eyes of past Sari Solden writing this article some time ago, I think that’s a thing that gets me thinking about, not the things I’ve already given up on in the last six months but the ways my habits have changed. My behaviors have changed day to day that I’m terrified of not being able to shake, again, going the other way, right?

Nikki Kinzer: Right.

Pete Wright: And I think a lot of people that I’ve been talking to are dealing with that, this whole experience of, "Oh my God, I don’t want to change again, I’m scared of changing again. This was really hard change to make, and I’m not ready to change again." And so I think that’s where I move from this initial point, which is now, it’s not that I feel guilty anymore about the things I didn’t get done because I’ve already felt guilty about those things. Right now, I feel guilty about my anticipated level of engagement in whatever comes next because I’m exhausted, right?

Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Oh, it’s a very fair point for sure. And we’ve had enough time for… Some of us have had enough time to get a little bit more comfortable where we are right now, so like you said, it’s hard to just all of a sudden say that that’s got to changed, too. And how does that look? And I don’t think it’s going to look the same, and that’s something else that she talks about in her… This is her second and third point because they go together, but you may have liked not saying no to things, right?

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: So as an introvert, I can totally relate to this because there was no pressure of me having to invite people over or me going to places that maybe I was tired and didn’t really want to go. It’s not that I don’t want to do those things, or I don’t want to have people over, but they do take energy, and it does take… For an introvert, it takes a lot of energy. I guess it’s probably the easiest way to sum it up, so…

Pete Wright: And how wonderful it is as an introvert to just not be invited to stuff for a while.

Nikki Kinzer: Right. Yeah. You don’t have to say no, or you don’t have to convince yourself or talk yourself into it. I sound terrible, I sound antisocial, and that’s not what I mean at all.

Pete Wright: Not at all. But for somebody who’s like… I totally relate to that. For somebody who relate, who lives with anxiety, there is a certain amount of relief that comes with not having to face those things every single day. And I think the same thing goes for ADHD, there are… When the world slows down, I feel like it’s given me time to breathe, right?

Nikki Kinzer: Right.

Pete Wright: That’s a real benefit to where we’ve been, for my brain. It hasn’t been such a constant daily hustle of shame that I’m letting people down because everybody is slowing down, all expectations have changed. And I don’t like going back to the old way, I really don’t.

Nikki Kinzer: Right. Well, and you think about the fear, too, especially in those first few months. Life was dangerous if you went outside, and so there’s all of that underlying fear and, like you said, anxiety. And I don’t think it’s easy to just forget about that. I mean, I don’t know if I’m ever going to necessarily go into a place where there’s a lot of people and not think about who’s got what, and do I need to wash my hands? I mean, everybody’s psyche is going to be a little bit different after this experience.

Nikki Kinzer: And so one of the things that she says, too, is take your time going back and reflect on what you’ve learned about yourself. And I think this is interesting because this is a transition period where you could start to set some new boundaries. If you’ve been a person who has, always in the past, said yes to everything, or you’re feeling like you’re overdoing things or you’re overbooking or whatever, this may be a good opportunity for you to actually think, "Okay, what am I comfortable going back to, and what boundaries do I need to set, not just because of COVID but just because I want to live a happier life that’s more balanced?"

Pete Wright: Yeah. And this goes back to what we were just talking about. When the world slows down, it gives you an opportunity to reflect on exactly those things and take back some control in your life where you may have felt it had been taken from you, without having the expectation of immediacy to it, right?

Nikki Kinzer: Right.

Pete Wright: You don’t have the pressure of, "Oh my God, they need an answer right now." You can really stop and say, "What happens if I do say no to this thing," right?

Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright: I can play out that drama a little bit and see if I can make sense of what best case, worst case scenarios are for me in this scenario, like not going to this outdoor work picnic where people are maybe less conservative than you are in terms of social distancing, distancing in mass, or maybe you want to be less conservative yourself and maybe you want to find those engagements where you don’t have to worry about those pressures. So I think on both sides, just having a chance to breathe is important, and taking it.

Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay. So her fourth point was, "What are the new rituals that you might want to keep," which, again, goes back into boundaries. But what were some of the things that you found in the last year that really helped you, and that either helped you in some way of dealing with the pandemic but also just made life easier. And I got to tell you, one thing for me, for sure, is online grocery shopping. Never did it before, started doing it during the pandemic, and now I can’t imagine ever not doing it. It is so convenient.

Pete Wright: Well, so convenient, I do… Or do you do the pickup or the delivery?

Nikki Kinzer: I do the pickup. So I’ll order it all online, and then I go to the store and sit in one of those little parking lots or parking spots that are just for this, and then they come out and bring it out to me.

Pete Wright: That’s our standard, too, and it’s pretty amazing. Occasionally, we’ll run in and get something, but it’s pretty rare these days. And I think we are more strategic and better planned in terms of our meal planning because we’re doing it so conscientiously at home, ordering the things that we need for the meals and not over exuberantly buying because we were hungry. So our grocery bill’s also gone down a little bit as a result of that, so…

Nikki Kinzer: Exactly. Yeah. Well, and I mean, that’s the other thing that people might find, is that because they cooked more at home that maybe they’ll cook more at home now, too, going forward, you know?

Pete Wright: Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: So there’s a lot of things that… Again, looking at what can you take out of the experience, that was positive, I mean, what helps you. And then I think it’s also coming back to, "When are you comfortable to start pushing out of that comfort zone a little bit," and thinking about, intentionally, "Who do you want to see, what places did you miss the most?" And make those things count because it’s important to you and because you’re still a little uncomfortable. So we want to make sure that you’re thinking about what you’re doing. And I’ll tell you, for me personally, and I’m sure everybody else, a lot of people will feel this way, too, that connection of seeing people in person, it’s so important for us humans to have that. And to be able to give your loved ones a hug, and to be able to see them in person and see all of them, not just their headshot, you know?

Pete Wright: [inaudible 00:16:13].

Nikki Kinzer: So I really encourage you to think about that because it does definitely help you with your spirit, your soul, and being able to get past some of the things that you probably are grieving about, with what may have been lost, so…

Pete Wright: I feel like we’ve changed our expectations of socialization and… For example, there’s a wonderful new food cart area in our side of town. And Portland is known for its food cart culture, and downtown has always had a lot of wonderful food carts. But out in the burbs where we are, it’s not been a thing. And there are some wonderful food truck collectives, they actually… There’s ones called the Food Truck Cartel, that’s in our area. And there’re probably 30 food trucks that are all around the patio area that has been great. And those kinds of things… Taking advantage of those for quick outdoor meals, lots of variety, so we can start to resocialize and remember that, "Oh, as much as Zoom has been great, I do need human beings. I do need… Even to be in proximity… Yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: Even as an introvert, we need human beings.

Pete Wright: Probably more as an introvert, we need human… You know what I mean?

Nikki Kinzer: Probably, yeah. Yeah, absolutely.

Pete Wright: I feel like that has been really, really powerful. I was surprised at how I didn’t want to stick to delivery for groceries and for food, DoorDash, all those kinds of things, after the first few months of the pandemic, right?

Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Pete Wright: I was one of those, I wanted to leave flowers for my delivery people, I wanted to… I was an enthusiastic tipper. And that experience has, I feel like, became a little bit stressful because it’s more expensive, right?

Nikki Kinzer: Sure.

Pete Wright: It’s, in some cases, substantially more expensive. But also, I realized not getting in the car and driving around and picking up things when I need them, doing takeout for meals or doing the grocery pickup, that was causing additional stress for me, it was making me feel really cooped up. So taking advantage of any opportunity to get me out of the house and being more intentional about… Maybe I’m going to drive to a forest park downtown or at the west side to actually get a walk in this afternoon. Something that encourages me to move is… It was really big. The other thing that I did take on… Ugh man, I’m an Apple Fitness+ guy. You know about Apple Fitness+ with the watch?

Nikki Kinzer: No.

Pete Wright: This new thing they started… I don’t know, it’s been a year probably. And if you have an Apple Watch and you have the service, which is a couple of bucks a month, but it’s included in their Apple One main account, which we do… And you can start a workout with a live trainer, and they have this raft of live trainers and everything, from high intensity workouts, to yoga, to all this stuff. I’d never done yoga, and I’ve been doing yoga for a year.

Nikki Kinzer: Nice.

Pete Wright: And I got to say, it might be against the spirit of yoga to say this, but I’m getting pretty good at it.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. You’re a yogi.

Pete Wright: I’m jamming on yoga stuff now, and I’m…

Nikki Kinzer: That’s great, good for you.

Pete Wright: That has been something that I never, ever, ever would have tried were it not for that sort of behavior change for the pandemic. So I’m trying really hard to think about those silver linings of change in my life that aren’t stressful, right, where I can actually observably live in this new skin as a result of post-pandemic or pre post-pandemic.

Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think that one of the biggest things that I’ve taken away is giving up control, just coming to terms with not being able to predict anything.

Pete Wright: How does that manifest for you around the house? In your relationship with your husband or with your kids, how has that changed for you locally, like in your micro culture?

Nikki Kinzer: I think it gives me a lot more compassion and grace with my family, especially with my kids because I think anyone that’s had… Anyone who’s a parent during this time, we saw what it did to our children. And I saw the depression and the anxiety and the things that were not good for their mental health, and so I think giving compassion and understanding and not trying to necessarily help them… Because I didn’t know how to help them, because I couldn’t tell them everything was going to be okay, I couldn’t tell them that their dad wasn’t going to get sick, I couldn’t… And so just being with them and having as a parent to say, "I don’t know…

Pete Wright: Okay, you just… I feel like I’m going to start crying right now because that hits me so close to home. And as a parent, having to look at your kids and say, "I don’t know, I don’t know if you’re going to get sick. And if you do, I don’t know what’s going to happen." I got sick, and it wasn’t pretty. I didn’t know how it was going to hang out, I didn’t know… The pictures and that, "So we have the photos coming up from a year ago today," kind of thing, and there was a whole… All July was like Pete with the masks on his face, unable to breathe. And that’s not a great memory to come back to, that’s super triggering around here. And yeah.

Nikki Kinzer: Right. Absolutely.

Pete Wright: Ugh, I don’t know.

Nikki Kinzer: I know, that’s all… I mean, it’s just… Ugh, it’s a heavy thing to talk about and… But I’m glad that we can have the conversation, and I say that because this is a transition, it is a transition no matter where you are in it. And you’re not alone, we’re all going through it. And yeah, we don’t know.

Pete Wright: We don’t know.

Nikki Kinzer: We don’t know, but yeah, we’re not alone.

Pete Wright: There is something that is both terrifying and liberating about that, we don’t know. And we used to talk about it. I mean, take five years ago on this show, we might have said the liberation of saying I don’t know, or my whole thing about… I don’t have a strong opinion about that really changing the way we think about things, but that has taken on an unbearable weight now that we’ve lived through the context of the last 18 months and what it has done to our culture. And so, yes, that’s huge.

Nikki Kinzer: Yeah. All right, there you have it. That’s our show today.

Pete Wright: Oh, well, we didn’t really talk about politics at all. How did we do? That was okay?

Nikki Kinzer: I think we did great.

Pete Wright: We did great, okay. I do, too.

Nikki Kinzer: I hope so, unless we get all of the negative feedback, but…

Pete Wright: Well, I hope people take it. Yeah, [inaudible 00:23:23]…

Nikki Kinzer: Please don’t do that to us, we don’t like it.

Pete Wright: We don’t like that as much, that’s triggering, too. Mostly, we just love doing the show and love being able to take a minute and reflect on the kind of transition that this is. And I think for me, the big takeaway is, be patient with yourself. And if you are suffering the anxiety that comes along with this, just know… Yeah, it’s like you said, you are not alone. We are all in this together, and whatever we can do to lift each other up is… That’s the thing to celebrate.

Nikki Kinzer: Absolutely.

Pete Wright: So thanks everybody for hanging out and listening to this show. I posted the link to the article that Nikki was poking at, Nikki was inspired by. I posted it in the Discord chat. We are doing a lot of our live stream conversation in Discord. I will also post that in the show notes and Discord Mom, Melissa will make sure to update the ADHD resource library. If you haven’t checked that out, make sure you jump into the resource library. If you’re ever looking for any of the apps or, I don’t know, recipes, articles… Anything we’ve ever talked about on the show, we’ve consolidated into the ADHD resource library, and so make sure you check that out as well. Thank you all for downloading and listening, we appreciate your time and your attention. Don’t forget, if you have something to contribute, jump over in the show talk channel in Discord. That’s where we are, and you can join us right there by becoming a supporting member at the deluxe level. On behalf of Nikki Kinzer, I’m Pete Wright, and we’ll see you right back here next week on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.

Through Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast, Nikki Kinzer and Pete Wright strive to help listeners with support, life management strategies, and time and technology tips, dedicated to anyone looking to take control of their lives in the face ADHD.