With things changing fast and unexpectedly, you’re more likely to feel overwhelmed or down — or as I’m calling it, the “Coronavirus Blues.”
Thanks to the COVID-19 virus, there are so many things that you’re probably juggling right now. Maybe childcare has become an issue overnight, or you own a small business, or you were already worrying about your health before the virus pandemic. Perhaps you’re working from home now, or an event you were really looking forward to was canceled.
Not liking change, and fear of the unknown is part of being human. Feeling a little lost is common when things have changed this fast! If you are looking for an antidote to being overwhelmed, try some of the following strategies. They will help you feel better — or at least not feel worse!
1. Have a Routine
A change in schedule or confinement to home can make people feel down. Working in your pajamas might feel great for a few days, but doing it for several weeks? Not so much. Try to keep some type of schedule. It does not need to look like your old schedule, but it does need to be consistent. Your wake/sleep schedule is the main thing that keeps you from turning into a zombie with no motivation. Try to keep your wake/sleep time within one to two hours of your “regular time.” Your future self will thank you.
2. Write It Down
Write down all the things that you are worried about or are bothering you. Now look closely at your list and cross out anything you can’t control. You probably have a much shorter list now. Put your energy into the things you have some direct control over.
Get up off the couch or out of the office chair and move your body! Go for a walk. Dance around the house with the kids. Do a workout on YouTube. Like Tony Robbins says, “motion changes emotion.”
4. Have a Goal
Choose one thing you would like to accomplish with the time you have at home. It can be a simple thing, like catching up on laundry, or a big thing like beginning to write a novel. Or, try a relationship goal, like spending quality distraction-free and phone-free time with your kids.
Just pick something specific that you can do. Read a book, try a new recipe, find some adult coloring books, and go to town! (Don’t literally go to town, stay inside like you’re supposed to! There’s a pandemic out there. Haven’t you heard?)
5. Consume Media Lightly
Do not invite the news into your house 24/7. The media tends to present a heightened version of the same information repeatedly.
Imagine if they were reporting that it might rain…
BREAKING NEWS: Have you heard about rain?
- Did you know it could rain?
- Other people have seen it rain!
- Have you ever been exposed to rain before?
- Have you ever been rained on?
- Here is Bob from Brooklyn, and he heard rain on his roof yesterday.
- Mass stock umbrellas! Buy Galoshes!
- It might rain!
There are zero reasons to listen to how it might rain all day long. Try choosing when to watch the news, but only at specific times. Maybe once or twice a day. Then turn it off!
6. Guilt-free Play
For all the high achievers, there can be this sense of guilt that you “should be” doing something. You may not even be sure what the “something” you should be doing is, but there’s that uncomfortable feeling that you should be doing something! Take a deep breath and accept that some things are on hold for now. But, it’s not your fault things are on hold. Give yourself permission to have some guilt-free play.
7. Stay Smart
Groupthink can get the best of us into trouble. Consider the source of the information you are getting. If it’s your neighbor Sarah or a scary Facebook post from Karen down the street, stop and think it through. Fear is more interesting and contagious than facts. Try to stick with facts.
If you are worried and want practical steps to help your loved ones, focus on the information that can be helpful. For example, following the suggestions by the CDC. Yay! Something you can control.
When have you felt this way before? Have you felt this stressed or down at some other point in your life? Chances are you have, and it all worked out.
It’s going to be OK.
You can’t solve a problem that has not happened yet. We spend a lot of time thinking about ways to solve problems that we don’t have enough information to solve.
- “How long could this go on?”
- “How badly will my business be hit?”
- “Will I be at home with these kids indefinitely?”
There are three ways to answer every question: Yes, No, and I don’t know.
“I don’t know” is an answer. It’s not an answer we like, but it is an answer.
When you’re worried about a problem you don’t have enough information to solve, your brain will stay on high alert. It will keep you in stress mode. We like predictability, like 2 + 2 = 4. But your brain is not as interested in the specifics of the solution; it just wants to know that there is a solution available.
When you’re starting to feel like you could take the gold medal in the “Worry Olympics,” stop and remind yourself that:
- “you don’t have enough information right now, but you always find a solution.”
- “you are resilient and will know what to do.”
The Basic Message
Long story short, keep taking care of yourself, try to have some fun, and trust that toilet paper will return to the shelves and hand sanitizer will be abundant once again.