Taking care of you, when things feel heavy

COVID PANDEMIC

This has been a hard time for each of us as we collectively grieve. COVID-19 has created an undercurrent of anticipatory grief of what’s to come, while we all adjust to our new “normal”, continue to experience the up’s and down’s of being human, and attempt to hold on to hope that we can cobble together a normal we recognize after all of this.

We have passed the first wave of crisis. For many of us, the anxiety, denial or other initial reaction (thanks to our adrenaline) is starting to subside and we are realizing we can’t keep up the pace of white knuckling through this.  We are now settling into accepting our situation for what it is today, and as such, we are being forced to get creative, and find new ways of managing our emotions, and our lives.

Five Ways to Create Your New Covid Normal

Adjust Your Achievement Mindset: Try to remember to “Keep it simple and small”. Set small goals or tasks each day to accomplish. We usually recommend starting with 3, and that includes hygiene, chores and nourishment!
Move It: David Kessler has noted “emotions need motion”. This is figurative and literal. Consider going for a walk, jumping jacks, lifting your canned goods or having a living room dance party. The energy we experience connected to our feelings needs to be released.
Feel the Feels: Connecting with your emotions – identify and describe where the emotions live in your body and what they look like. This will help to give you a sense of control separating the emotion from defining you, and identifying it as an experience you are having.  

Journal! If this is new for you, start with making a list or picture of what makes your heart feel happy. It is an amazing place to park your thoughts. 

Practice daily gratitude at the end of the day. (If you are struggling with this start simple and small. Ex. I’m grateful for my pillow) 

Social Connection: Get social – call, text, email, video chat. Set time aside to connect. Attempt to cultivate social connections that you had in your pre-covid life.  It may take some creativity, but you can do it! 

Get offline. Try to keep an eye on how much time you are spending online. It can be an overload of information and it is important to be intentional about grounding in your present.  Refer back to “Feel the Feels”.  Be mindful of how you feel and how your body responds to watching or reading the news.  If it feels bad (sore head, butterflies in your stomach, feeling anxious or teary), turn it off! No amount of watching news or scrolling through social media is going to change this!

Channel Your Creativity: Do something, anything creative! 

Think of your five senses: 

  • Look: Read a book or poetry.  Something light and fun!
  • Listen: Listen to music or podcasts to match or improve your mood.
  • Taste: Cooking or baking helps calm the nerves and nurtures and nourishes you and your family.
  • Touch: Tactile activities such as colouring and crafts are a good way to channel creativity and calm your mind, distracting you from what is going on.
  • Smell: Use a favourite soap in the shower, diffuse an oil, or burn or a candle.  Scents can take us to a happier, calmer place. 

Coping with this situation isn’t a matter of “silver lining” your life, but working to find meaning in your day.  Remember, it’s ok to not be ok, and there are people who want to help.  Build your support system with friends, family or a professional.  So ask for help. We are all in this together.  Most of us welcome a chance to hear a friend’s problems and feelings, even when we have our own “stuff” going on. Helping each other makes us feel useful! And if that doesn’t work, remember that many therapists are offering online and video sessions. Get creative as to where your session can be held (on the phone while you walk, in your car, front porch, basement, etc.).  Professional help remains covered under your employer’s benefit plans, and some is being offered for free right now.  Google it! 

Some information sourced from HBR article “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief” by Scott Berinato

https://hbr.org/2020/03/that-discomfort-youre-feeling-is-grief

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