These are days many of us never expected to see. We are in unprecedented/uncertain times. They feel a little crazy and surreal. Our lives are literally on hold while this Covid-19 global health emergency threatens our families, careers, our world as we know it. It is all very scary and can stir up a variety of uncomfortable feelings.
How do you cope when you haven’t been faced with anything like this before? How are you supposed to get through?
First things first—breathe. It is not all bad. Think about the positives in your life and then focus on taking things a-day-at-a-time. Things are changing so rapidly it can be hard to keep up. Rather than worry about what tomorrow will look like, try to keep your focus on today. What work do you have to get accomplished? What projects are your kids going to do? What is for dinner? Things will feel less overwhelming if you break it down into hours or minutes, rather than days, weeks, months.
Find Some Normalcy
Keep routines as normal as possible. So Covid-19 has made it so you can’t go to the gym anymore, but you can still do an exercise video or go for a run. Work might not be at the office but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go about your day in the same way you normally would.
Focus on what you can control. With everything out of sorts, it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. Instead of ruminating over all the things you can’t control, focus on what you can, like your self-care and health practices. Use the extra time at home to ramp up your exercise routine or practice healthy eating (less temptation to eat out can have benefits). Do some projects around the home that you have been avoiding because you have been too busy. Play a game with your kids. Watch a movie as a family. You can control how you spend your time.
Keep Some Perspective
We are taking these measures for the greater good of our world. Are they going to last forever? Likely not.
Set limits on your consumption of media and be mindful of how you feel. Everywhere you look it’s all about the virus. It can easily become overwhelming. Turn off the TV. Only check the media when necessary. When you feel anxious and overwhelmed change to something else.
Give yourself some grace. This is new for all of us. Don’t expect to be the master homeschooler or parent-of-the-year. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for yourself. You don’t have to know what to do. It is ok to be upset, anxious, scared, stressed. Your feelings are valid. If you need a day where the kids get extra screen time and you binge-watch Netflix. It is ok. Cut yourself some slack. Be gentle with yourself.
Find Ways to Connect
Connection is so important, especially in these times of Covid-19. No one was built to stay isolated. We need interaction and human connection. We need a good, healthy conversation and a laugh or two. But, how are we supposed to do that and stay socially distanced? Technology can be a great tool.
Utilize free conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Hangouts and meet with friends through the safety of your couch. Have your kids send a letter or email to a penpal. There are a lot of ways to connect without being in the same space.
Utilize social media (sometimes it can be your friend). Sharing photos of your day, videos, thoughts with family and friends on these platforms can help you see how not alone you are. Take advantage of the many celebrities who are using these tools to read to kids, perform concerts, etc.
Drive-by a friend’s house and wave/honk, tape pictures or signs to your home window for others to see as they travel past — remember we are all in this together. The smallest little acts can have a big impact on someone’s day.
It is important to remember that while these times are challenging, they won’t last forever. Rather than get worked up over the many changes you are faced with, embrace other options.
If you are struggling with anxiety (or anything) surrounding Covid-19 please don’t hesitate to reach out. At Move Forward, we have openings for telehealth services. Call us at 717-462-7003 ext. 1 to learn more.
Author: Alison Pidgeon, LPC
Alison is the Founder and CEO of Move Forward Counseling, a boutique private practice for women with three locations in Lancaster County, PA. She is passionate about reducing the stigma related to accessing mental health services. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.