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How to Cope with The ‘Pandemic Wall’

The Washington Post’s latest headline on February 9th warns: “The Pandemic Wall is Still Here.” People everywhere are experiencing what can be described as hitting the pandemic wall. As a society, there’s evidence to suggest that we’re experiencing very normal stages of processing very abnormal events. Often, when the novelty of the abnormal or unstable […]

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how to cope with the pandemic wall

The Washington Post’s latest headline on February 9th warns: “The Pandemic Wall is Still Here.” People everywhere are experiencing what can be described as hitting the pandemic wall. As a society, there’s evidence to suggest that we’re experiencing very normal stages of processing very abnormal events. Often, when the novelty of the abnormal or unstable experience subsides, we’re met with the wall of fatigue.

Some of us are experiencing the phenomenon known as the “time warp” where due to stay-at-home orders for many of us, the environment rarely provides change. Many of us feel disoriented with the feeling of too much time dragging by with the stressors of too little time in balancing our obligations to work, ourselves, our relationships. According to a piece in Psychology Today, boredom may be to blame.

As described in the article, “When bored, we are caught in a bind; both searching for, but also not expecting, good things. Psychologists call this being in a state of ‘behavioural inhibition’—feeling uncertain, stuck and fretting about our predicament. Behavioural inhibition causes a pause as we scan for safe and rewarding activities.”

One solution, posed by the authors, is to challenge yourself to activate yourself by becoming future-oriented for the near-future. Rather than waiting for a post-Covid lifestyle, dreaming of events while dragging on time, actively plan for Covid-friendly activities in the near-future.

For example: set a goal to make one new recipe a week, practice a new hobby for an a hour a day, make a goal to write in a gratitude journal every morning.

Kaye Hermanson, UC Davis Health psychologist provides additional proven tactics for breaking down your pandemic wall:

  • Exercise: “It’s the No. 1 best thing we can do for coping,” she said. “Any exercise – even a simple walk – helps. It releases endorphins, gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. Just getting out and moving can be really helpful for people.”
  • Talking: “This really helps, too. Just saying it out loud is important,” Hermanson said. “Find the right places and times, but do it. Ignoring feelings doesn’t make them go away. It’s like trying to hold a beachball underwater – eventually you lose control and it pops out. You can’t control where it goes or who it hits.”
  • Constructive thinking: “We may think it is the situation that causes our feelings, but actually, our feelings come from our thoughts about the situation,” she said. “We can’t change the situation, but we can adjust our thinking. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Remind yourself, ‘I’m doing the best I can.’”
  • Mindfulness and gratitude: “The more you do this, the easier it gets,” she said. “Try being in the moment. You’re right here, in this chair, breathing and looking around. We put ourselves through a lot of unnecessary misery projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. For now, just take life day by day.” (source).

While encouraging action and future planning for yourself can be helpful, remember that we are still in a global pandemic and it is ok if just surviving a global pandemic the best way that you can is what you can do.

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