Keep busy, but keep it in perspective

Some handy hints for dealing with COVID-19 anxiety!

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Some of us have been living in constant fear and anxiety for a while. A trip to the grocery store can be nerve-wracking when you fail to follow the new protocol, along with the ensuing guilt. 

Living with apprehension and worry has become the new norm. Nevertheless, while dealing with similar issues every day, your life soon becomes humdrum.

But does life become more comfortable for you with each day? In some ways, it does as you can plan for activities that will brighten your day, whether it’s baking with your children or video chatting with your mother.

 Despite this, you feel down when you see your children’s glum faces or think of your losses, which are many; financial, social, recreational, to name a few. You may feel guilty for not doing enough for your family or feel hopeless and lost being away from your friends.

You find it’s easy to get bogged down with the negativity of your daily life and the consequent exhaustion and hopelessness, leading to disturbed sleep, diminished problem-solving skills and eventual burnout. All this makes it challenging for you to retain the bigger picture of staying healthy and mentally strong for yourself and your loved ones.

By focusing on the here and now,  as per cognitive behaviour therapy, you can focus on completing a task, thereby deferring your worrying and ruminating later. 

After you have finished your chores for the day, you can think about your problems and have your dinner and fun time with your kids when you’re relaxed.

 For example, after a meditation session, you realize that you have placed more importance on no real issues before the lockdown. It could look like an all-or-none thinking pattern or a cognitive distortion, where you believe that you have failed if you do not achieve your daily goal of baking.

Once you start doing more each day instead of worrying endlessly, you will feel more fulfilled and believe that your day went better than the previous day. Slowly but surely, a series of better days will bring more joy and a happier you.

With improved self-efficacy or belief in yourself, as proposed by psychologist Albert Bandura, you will be able to make split-second decisions, like resolving another dispute between your two preschoolers with less second-guessing.

With your negative emotions minimized, you can take a fair appraisal of your life circumstances without harsh self-judgement.

Armed with clearer thinking and a less foggy mind, you will be able to synthesize the recent chain of events, leading to acknowledging your fears.

You already know the salient points for optimum mental health during this period: maintaining connectivity, healthy eating, exercising, sleeping well, getting professional help for any signs of ill health, minimizing media, meditation or just chilling.

But if this is life for you, you want to feel good about it. Every day you find an untapped reservoir of strength and resilience not only in yourself but in your loved ones. Your efforts in keeping positive imply that you don’t merely want to survive but to thrive; in other words, enjoying your new life and building resilience for the future.

Progressing after trauma and leading a better life because of trauma constitutes post-traumatic growth, as per psychologists Richard Tedeschi and Lawrence Calhoun. Even if you don’t believe that you are better off because of it, at least you can say that you have faced these challenging times and live to tell the tale, which itself is a victory.

Disclaimer: This post is for informational purposes and should not substitute for consultation with a qualified professional. 

This article was published in The Telegraph-Journal

Picture courtesy Unsplash, many thanks to photographer Brian Wangenheim

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