The COVID-19 pandemic has brought up many sudden and unexpected changes to our day-to-day lives. I am confident we are all having a reaction to this situation. Whatever your reaction is, please know that your feelings are valid. We all respond to crisis situations differently based upon our own past experiences, our personalities, and other stressors in our lives. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel about this pandemic. That being said, there are some widespread challenges this crisis has created and will continue to create.
For many, daily routines are largely imposed by multiple external factors. Your employer likely decides the times you are able to arrive to and depart from work. If you have children, their schools dictate when and where they must be on weekdays. If you are in a league, play a sport, or are part of a club, there are scheduled meetings and events you must regularly attend.
But, what happens when you work from home, your kids are no longer in school, and your regular leisure activities are cancelled? Suddenly our routines become blurred. You might find yourself going to bed later, waking up later, and staying in your pajamas until noon. You might also find yourself responding to work emails and texts at all hours of the day and night. Help yourself by creating consistency where you are able: get up around the same time and go sleep around the same time as normal, shower and get dressed as you would normally, take breaks for meals, and mentally commit to limiting work to work hours.
Reducing social interaction can be stressful and difficult on our mental health. Even if you consider yourself to be introverted, this drastic change in our ability to socialize can feel overwhelming. Make attempts to stay connected with your support system to the extent you are able. This may look differently than it has in the past, such as increasing the use of video calling and creating opportunities to check-in with friends and co-workers throughout the day.
We are all in this together. When we disconnect from our support system, the intensity of our struggles can appear magnified. Simply sharing your thoughts and feelings with those you care about can help to alleviate some of that intensity and allow you to recognize you are not alone in your struggles.
One of the most stressful parts of the current pandemic is not knowing what the next few days, weeks, or maybe months will look like. The uncertainty of how this situation will evolve can feel scary and disruptive. Reminding yourself of the things which you do have control over (how you are taking care of yourself, limiting time searching for new information, and reaching out for support) can be helpful. When we acknowledge that there are things that continue to be in our control, it can make tolerating the unknown situations a little easier.
Not knowing can trigger our minds to try to create and plan for potentially threatening future scenarios. While this is our mind attempting to protect us, it is an unhelpful and emotionally draining activity. This thought process causes us to emotionally experience a myriad of situations, both now and if they happen in the future. Shifting your focus to the present can help you practice taking things step-by-step and learn to deal with what is actually happening, rather than worrying about every possible future situation.
Above all, remind yourself often that you are doing the best you can with the information you have, and you will continue to do so moving forward. This is temporary.
Torie Cueto, LMFT
As a licensed therapist in California, Torie provides online video therapy for adults. To contact Torie about scheduling an appointment, click here.
Torie Cueto, LMFT
Licensed Therapist in California. Currently providing individual therapy services for adults.
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