Coping in COVID
What in the world is going on right now? With the presence of coronavirus, I find my clients, and myself, asking me this question daily. Life just doesn’t feel real, and many things certainly don't feel right. And although I’ve never been face to face with a global pandemic, or known anyone who has, I’ve certainly had my share of adversities to overcome, and challenges to fight through like everyone else in this world. Sure, the unknown comes with feelings of fear, confusion, anxiety, and angst, but this emotional experience is an inevitable part of being human. If life is “10% of what happens to you, and 90% of how you respond”, it’s how we cope with those emotions that will have the greatest and most lasting impact. It may not seem so, but your mental health should be a top priority, as this will make you, your loved ones and communities stronger than ever. Start with these three take-aways to deal with the stress of COVID-19…
1.) Take a break!
It may seem like you have more to do now in your daily routine than you ever have, and this may be true. However, stress can make us feel overwhelmed in our responsibilities, causing us to respond quickly to stressful events around us. Try stepping outside and taking five deep breaths of fresh air before returning to a daunting task or taking a moment to write down three “must do’s” of the day instead of jumping into an impossible to-do list. Also identify your top two news sources, to take a break from being exposed to an overload of anxiety-provoking information. Your local county office, and the Center for Disease Control could contain all the information you need.
2.) Take care of yourself!
Stress can wreak havoc on the health commitments we’ve made to ourselves. An essential part of coping is engaging in self-care, or any intentional act that takes care of yourself and those around you. Your mind and body are connected, so consider taking care of your physical self by trying to eat well-balanced meals, avoiding increased alcohol and drug use, and getting plenty of sleep where possible. Do the activities that allow you and your family to feel most like themselves such as playing games, taking a walk while social distancing, or watching a movie together. This is also a great time to establish new activities for yourself and loved ones as well.
3.) Take time to connect!
Although we’ve been ordered to stay socially distant, this does not mean we must be socially isolated. African Americans are being infected and dying from coronavirus at higher rates than the rest of the population. Black communities are already hotbeds for stress, and this can cause us to enter avoidance and separate ourselves from our support systems all together. People need other people and staying connected is essential to being mentally healthy. Take time to share and listen to concerns within your friend group. Consider checking-in with loved ones who are distant and use Facetime or Zoom to feel less isolated. And as always, seek and encourage professional help if you find it difficult for you or others to cope.
Coronavirus is here, it’s real, and there’s nothing we can do about it. Focus on how you’re responding by taking a break to identify better ways to take care of yourself, while staying connected to others. Do not become dismayed by that which you cannot control and remember those moments in life that have called for you to be resilient. You’ve always had the capability to overcome, and now is no different.