What’s the Right Way to Deal With a Global Pandemic?

Here’s the thingthere is absolutely no right way to deal with what we are all facing right now.

None of us have been through anything in our lifetime that compares to this or can prepare us for this. So, however you are dealing with this, please know that you are doing the best you can and give yourself lots and lots of kindness and compassion.  

If you find yourself feeling anxious, depressed, caged, despairing, or even enjoying the slower pace of life that comes with staying home – it’s all normal and okay.  

Self-care is even more important during this time of stress, uncertainty, and maybe close quarters with family. If things outside of the home are ways that you usually care for yourself, this is a good time to develop some new at home self-care and coping strategies. Here are a few ideas: 

  1. Keep a routine. This doesn’t have to be the routine that you kept pre-pandemic, but find a routine that works for where we are right now. This includes going to sleep and waking up around the same time consistently each day. Changing your clothes, fixing your hair, brushing your teeth, and “getting ready” for the day are good ideas too. While a pajama day is always a nice reprieve, many pajama days in a row are not and can, in fact, be a quick path to depression. Do things that signify this is a new day.  
  2. Move your body. Whether this is a few pushups or sit-ups, a workout video you can stream online (there are many), or a walk outside, physical activity (and fresh air) are good for your mental health.  
  3. Smell something enjoyable. Smells are grounding, especially when they are associated with a previous enjoyable experience. How many of us can smell fresh baked cookies and be taken back to childhood? Maybe the smells of oranges or lemons remind you of sunshine, maybe the smell of dryer sheet reminds you of being outside. This may take some experimentation, but when you find a smell that calms you and reduces your anxiety, hold onto it and go back to it when anxious thoughts and feelings arise.  
  4. Play some music. If you are someone who has the TV on a lot, try turning it off and finding some music that produces a different kind of response in you. Like smell, music can be grounding, and can quickly take us back to previous experiences. Find music that you associate with positive experiences, and find time to listen to it.  
  5. Take a bath or shower. Make it a mindful experience, turn on the water to a temperature that is comfortable and comforting to you and give yourself time to relax and feel the water on your body. Notice your experience in real time – and if your mind wanders off, that’s ok too.  
  6. Journal. These are unprecedented times and *hopefully* we won’t experience this again. Taking some time to get your thoughts and feelings about this experience out onto paper can be helpful in the moment and will give you a historical record to reflect on in the future.  
  7. Help someone else. Not out of obligation, because you feel like you should or have to, but only if you genuinely want to. Helping others is a good way to take the focus off ourselves.  
  8. Distraction. When all else fails, good old distraction is also an acceptable way to cope in small quantities. If all we ever do is distract and we ignore, shove down, or avoid how we feel – those feelings will find a way out. But if we give our feelings some acknowledgement and then choose to distract from them for small periods of time – that is ok. We are all facing a lot and sometimes we can’t take it in all at once.  

I cannot emphasize enough that whatever you are feeling is ok – reach out to friends by video chat or phone and share what this is like for both of you! 

If you find yourself unable to function in the emotions you are feeling or if you are thinking about hurting yourself or someone else – please reach out for help. Contact me or another trusted professional – if any of us can’t help you, we will help you find someone who can. And, if you are totally unsure where to start looking for help, psychologytoday.com is a good place to start. Therapists list themselves and include their bios – read through and find someone that you feel like you might connect with. If you find yourself in crisis, please reach out to one of the crisis lines available – you can text 741741 24-hours a day to find support.

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