If we have discovered anything about COVID-19 over the past few months it is that we have to learn to live with a measure of uncertainty. There has been no quick fix for this virus. No smooth road to progress. And this reality can trigger a whole host of emotions for many of us including anxiety, depression, frustration, confusion, hopelessness and fatigue.
I want to reassure you that you are not alone in feeling this way. In recent months we have collectively been riding this wave of emotions that quickly swung from hope and optimism back to worry and fear as the virus evolved and fought back.
The COVID Vaccine Calmed Our Emotions
A few short months ago the curtain of the COVID pandemic began to lift. We were able to get vaccinated and felt a sense of control and relief. As we looked at our TV screens we rejoiced to see that the numbers of hospitalizations and deaths were dropping.
Restrictions regarding masking and social distancing were easing up and we all started cautiously emerging from our cocoons. We felt free to gather with friends and loved ones, dine at our favorite restaurants and safely return to the workplace.
Feeling Anxious Due To Rising COVID Cases
Then disturbing new information emerged and anxiety crept back in. We began to hear about the Delta variant and how it was more easily transmitted that the original strain. Unsettling news of breakthrough illness among vaccinated individuals was revealed and we no longer felt as well protected.
So the anxiety that began to subside last spring is rising again for many of us. But at this stage in the pandemic the rules have changed. We are expected to send our kids back to the classroom, and many of us are looking for a job or returning to work outside the home.
It is completely understandable to feel many uncomfortable emotions right now. With everything re-opened, we are experiencing circumstances we can’t fully control. In addition many of us are just feeling weary and discouraged, wondering if there is an end in sight.
Some Tips To Protect and Improve Your Mental Health
I want to offer some words of encouragement and hope! Please keep in mind that even though we are living in uncertain times, there are many things that ARE within our control. From our thoughts to our actions. Here are some suggestions to help you optimize your mental health during this challenging time:
- Take Care of Your Physical Health: You will feel better and strengthen your immune system as well, by eating healthy meals, getting a good night’s sleep, drinking plenty of water and exercising on a regular basis. Try to avoid excessive alcohol or sugar.
- Communicate Your Boundaries: Give yourself permission to make the right choices for you and your family. Be honest with others if you don’t feel comfortable attending certain events, gathering with groups or hugging. Wear a mask in public if you prefer to, and let your child’s teacher know that you expect that he or she wear their mask in school. Ease back into activities gradually according to your comfort level.
- Unplug: Although it is important to stay informed, too much screen time can be overwhelming. In addition to TV time, so many of us are glued to our phones as well. It can be unhealthy to consume a constant barrage of upsetting information. Limit yourself to one newscast a day or even skip a few days if it becomes too much. Or turn the channel to something light and enjoyable.
- Nurture Your Soul: Your mental health is just as important as your physical health! It is important to find joy and gratitude in each day. Take a walk in nature, meditate, journal, or read an uplifting book. Treat yourself to flowers or a favorite dessert!
- Stay Connected…Seek and Give Support: We are social beings and wired to need human connection. Whether it is through FaceTime or a small gathering outdoors, you will likely find this interaction to be energizing and mood boosting. And reaching out to others who may be isolated will certainly do wonders for your heart and state of mind!
- Personal Circle of Influence: This refers to the practice of focusing on that which we can control and putting forth effort towards making a positive change. So, although we are unable to control the coronavirus pandemic, we can control our attitude, our behavior, what we read and watch, what we post on social media, and who we choose to spend time with. We can expand our circle of influence and also have a positive impact by finding like minded people who share our passion about a cause and joining them to make a difference. This can be done through volunteering, making a donation or posting on social media. Taking an active role, and using our energy for good is very empowering.
Finding Empowerment During The Pandemic
During these times, as with any crisis it is important to focus on the things you can control such as your health and safety practices, your mindset, how you spend your time, and causes that matter to you. We feel better when we take an active role towards improving things. Maybe you want to make and donate masks, deliver meals to the elderly or volunteer at a vaccine clinic. There are many possibilities!
Also, It is important to remind yourself that we are learning more and more about this virus, and that the medical community is working very hard on our behalf to put the pandemic behind us.
If you still find yourself struggling please consider reaching out to a mental health professional. There are many qualified therapists that care deeply and are ready and willing to offer support, tools and resources as we cross this bridge together. Remember, you are not alone!
COVID-19, Pandemic Mental Health, Anxiety, Self Care, Coronavirus