Currently, words such as “unprecedented” and “uncertainty” have become familiar and frequent terms in our daily language. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased uncertainty in seemingly all aspects of life including physical health, mental health, finances, employment, education, and relationships. This heightened unreliability and fear can contribute to feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, and stress. A sense of security and safety is important to us and our well-being, so when the unknown becomes the status quo, it can be difficult to navigate life.
Fear and helplessness can be utterly exhausting, and at times, we become caught in “thinking traps” that lead to spiraling and catastrophizing thoughts. We all have varying thresholds for managing the unknown, but no matter what your specific tolerance level for uncertainty is, learning how to cope amidst the COVID-19 pandemic is a tool that is important for everyone to have.
Tips on How to Cope
Here are some tips that can be helpful in managing the difficult circumstances we are currently experiencing.
Take action over the things you can control
At the moment, much of the uncertainty we are facing is beyond our control. We may feel powerless in the face of the challenges and effects of the pandemic. And though it is important to validate your personal circumstances and lived experience, it can be helpful to focus on the aspects of life that ARE in your control.
For example, practicing the recommended health protocols can bring a sense of control amongst the fear and worry about contracting the virus. Other ways to take action include re-working your budget to adjust to any financial changes you may be facing, or scheduling out regular video chats with loved ones to remain connected. Instead of dwelling on the uncontrollable aspects of the situation, trying to focus on the parts that are within your control can decrease the ineffective worrying and instead, increase stability and problem-solving.
Of course, there are some things that are completely out of our control. And in those scenarios, we may try to suppress our feelings and ignore the distressing emotions. However, a more effective way of handling the situation is to validate our emotional response and allow ourselves space to fully experience our emotions.
Manage stress and anxiety
Taking steps to reduce your overall stress and anxiety can help you normalize your experience, feel more grounded, and better cope with the uncertainty that exists.
Some steps that have been proven to be helpful in managing stress and anxiety include:
- Moving your body — Engaging in physical activity is an effective way to relieve stress and decrease anxiety. Taking at least 15 minutes each day to go for a walk, dance around the house, do some yoga, or any other activity of choice is a natural way to increase clarity, focus, and happiness.
- Connecting with others — It is a challenge to fulfill our social needs during this time, so be creative with ways to connect with others!
- Making time for relaxation — Incorporating meditation, breathing techniques, time in nature, or any other relaxation practice is a proven way to care for yourself and invite some peace into your life.
- Speaking to a therapist — Now more than ever, enlisting the guidance of a mental health professional can help you prioritize your emotional well-being. Check out the counseling services we offer at Pure Health.
Reconstruct Routines and Rituals
Routines and rituals create structure and stability in our days, and the pandemic has undoubtedly interrupted our previously established habits. Reconstructing routines to adjust to the new context of COVID-19, allows people to better function and cope amidst the uncertainty. If possible, try to incorporate elements of your old routine into your new one — this will make for a smoother transition and maintain some familiarity in your life.
Utilize your reconstructed rituals in ways that are both functional and fun! Productivity and organization are important, but this is also an opportunity to establish a sense of connection and leisure in creative ways that work for you and your family’s lifestyle.
Life can feel senseless and hopeless during this tragic time, and finding meaning often helps people cope when a disaster occurs. For some individuals, this means turning to their religious, spiritual, or existential beliefs as a source of understanding. For others, tapping into your purpose and intention for that specific day can grant motivation and meaning.
“The meaning of life is to give life meaning”
We can all strive to make choices in our day-to-day so that we may continue to live meaningful lives despite living through this collective tragedy. Revisiting our priorities, values, and goals allows us to maintain a strong sense of self and hope as we persevere through these trying times.