Getting through Fear and Grief from COVID-19
The past few weeks have been tough. We’re all feeling it and searching for answers as to when life will return to “normal.” For many, there is a sense of fear, uncertainty, and grief. These feelings crop up in the moments where we realize we would be making our way to work in the mornings or when we see it’s almost the end of the month and bills are due. Some are feeling so isolated at home that even the small, and at the time, seemingly insignificant conversations with co-workers or customers are now being yearned to replace the still and quiet that our nation has grown to know as the typical day at home.
Whatever your situation may be, the fact is we’re all scared. Nervous about how long this change will last and, if mentally and emotionally, we can withstand the anxiety that accompanies uncertainty.
As a therapist, the conversation in the therapy room has changed in many ways. Literally, the conversation is now taking place via phone or video sessions. Clients are adjusting to a perhaps, less than ideal method, for sharing their most vulnerable moments. I am astounded by the strength shown in being able to adapt and change in a positive way. It truly does not go unnoticed.
Moreover, the concerns currently indicate that we really need connection to thrive and that stress and anxiety find a way to continue even when we’re doing our best.
If you’ve been struggling lately and feel like you’re not managing the changes well due to COVID-19, the following may be helpful for staying calm:
Identify what is within your control and what is not. Write it down, if needed.
Focus on what is within your control to minimize the impact on your day to day life while continuing to follow expert recommendations.
Establish a daily routine for your “new normal.” A routine for you and your family members, especially the kiddos, helps to reduce anxious feelings.
Set boundaries for time at home if there are more than two people in a household. To set expectations around time such as family time, work/study/school time, individual time, there will be less confusion and stress.
Allow for a designated time to share worries and concerns in which everyone can participate in sharing their feelings. If you live alone, have a daily check-in with a friend or family member.
Limit media exposure to twice a day! You can still be well informed and stay connected, but continuous checking of news and media is stressful.
Create a go-to list of activities or a calm kit that can be quickly obtained to help keep your mind and hands busy.
Since Spring is here, get outside and enjoy the weather as much as you can.
Exercise daily for half an hour. There are so many resources online for workouts or simply take a stroll.
Incorporate healthy foods into your meals. You may have a lot of shelf-stable food items at this time, but don’t forget about those immune and brain-boosting fruits and veggies.
Sleep. It’s tempting to shift our sleep schedules and stay up later or sleep in now that our routines look different, but try to go to bed and wake up at nearly the same time every day.
Check on your people! If you’ve been meaning to reach out to a friend or family member, but haven’t had the time, take this as an opportunity to connect or re-connect with people you care about.
Remember, this situation is temporary. Do your part in taking precautions, social distance, and help slow the spread of the virus so that the vulnerable populations may be able to receive adequate care for their medical needs.
At this time, many therapists are now utilizing telehealth, so reach out if you need to start talking to someone about your anxiety or the stress of this situation. You may have other aspects of life that you’ve been wanting to discuss before, and this could be a great time to develop a connection with a therapist that you trust.