For most of us, when we rang in the New Year, COVID-19 wasn’t even a thought in our mind.
Fast-forward a mere five months later, and it’s now a part of our daily lives. It’s almost impossible to escape this shift in our reality.
And even though everyone’s being affected differently, I believe we’ll all share a few of the same moments before the pandemic comes to an end:
1. The moment we realize just how crazy this is.
Each of us has different levels of exposure to COVID-19, but we’re all affected. I mean, just the word pandemic is enough to spark the flame of anxiety in us. The moment comes amidst us dealing with the illness of ourselves, in our family, having hours cut at work, or losing a job altogether. Maybe, it’s the weird feeling that pops up when we see people walking around with masks and gloves on. Regardless of what the experience is, we can all relate to the sense of going from everyday life straight into level five of “Jumanji.”
Tip: Talk to a loved one.
It doesn’t matter who it is. It can be a friend, brother, or even grandma. Make sure to call, text, video chat, or walk to the next room over to connect with someone. COVID-19 affects everyone in some way. Talking to a loved one helps us realize we’re not losing it, and we’re also not alone during this crazy time.
2. The “I don’t care” moment.
This happens sometime after we’ve adjusted (as much as possible) to this new reality. We may find we have some energy but don’t know what to do with it. Maybe, we’re bored or feel like nothing we’re doing matters.
Exercise is a natural way to improve mood. Now hold up. We don’t have to commit to an hour-long full-body workout to benefit from exercise. Something as simple as going for a walk, 10 minutes of yoga, or 20 minutes of dancing still counts as exercise. It’s not about getting a summer body or disciplining ourselves. Unless, of course, that’s our goal (then, by all means, do the damn thing). The point is to do something good for our body that helps to ease the blah feeling.
3. The “I can’t even” moment.
The extra stress from COVID-19 just adds to the list of things we have to manage: our jobs, bills, family, and keeping our household in order. Sometimes we need a small break from it all to get ourselves together.
We don’t have to practice what most people consider to be traditional meditation—sitting cross-legged, and speaking mantras. If we do have guru-level discipline, then definitely go for it. But most of us will benefit from something like a guided meditation on YouTube. Or even doing something simple with complete focus may be of benefit.
Think of a ritual for making a cup of tea or doing breathwork. The point of this is to get our minds to slow down. Focus on the present instead of worrying about what to do next.
4. The “I have all the feelings, what do I do with them” moment.
We are human beings. We have emotions. It’s normal. Dealing with stress during a change can trigger a higher level of emotional response. And this too is normal (even though it feels like it’s not). Sometimes we need to do something extra to manage our emotions on our own.
Tip: Art and writing.
Art and writing have been used throughout history for expression. We may not be the next Michelangelo or Edgar Allen Poe, but we can create. Whether it’s painting, drawing, journaling, or even cooking, we can use our emotions to fuel our creativity. Even if it seems like something we have no interest in—we can’t knock it til’ we’ve tried it.
Anything is better than sitting around in dread staring at the wall. And we may be pleasantly surprised at how it turns out.
5. The “Anywhere is better than here” moment.
This happens when we are completely fed up with being in the same place. Whether we’re self-quarantined at home, or circling from home to work to the store, and back again, we’re done. We need a change of scenery; we need an escape.
Reading is one of the most straightforward ways to escape from our environment (besides TV). If we’re tired of Netflix or trying to cut our screen time down, we should consider taking some time to read. If we’re a more visual person, there are comics and graphic novels. Or if we’re not into fiction, finding a book about a topic we’re passionate about might hold our attention. And if we’re not willing to commit to the length of a book, then short stories, articles, or blogs may be the right speed.
6. The “I don’t want to get out of bed” moment.
This happens when we feel like it’s all too much. Enough said.
Tip: Develop a minimal self-care routine.
I feel this. We don’t want to do a damn thing—our motivation to do anything is a big fat zero.
We can give ourselves a break by making a minimal routine of self-care. The list should include three to five things max. Feel free to borrow from my “barely sure if I still exist” essentials list:
>> Take a shower while listening to music.
>> Brush teeth.
>> Change into clean and comfortable clothes.
>> Have a glass of something delicious like hot cocoa, lemonade, or tea.
>> Listen to a guided meditation.
The list can be whatever is comforting but gets us to move around for a bit. It’ll all feel better after. Trust me. When we finish the routine, and the bed is still calling our name, get some rest.
7. The “I’m about to lose my sh*t” moment.
Okay, we’ve done everything we can. But it just isn’t enough. We are still overwhelmed by sadness, anger, and anxiety.
Tip: 10-minute rule.
This is the last resort technique. This is used when all other stress-management methods haven’t worked.
Pick a place. Preferably alone. We give ourselves 10 minutes to completely feel whatever emotion we’re experiencing.
If we need to curl up in bed and cry, do it. If it makes us feel better to hit a punching bag (or a pillow), do it. If running out to an empty field or forest to scream bloody murder helps, then do it. But only for 10 minutes max. Doing anything full force for 10 minutes is usually tiring.
This fatigue serves to replace the overwhelming emotion. After 10 minutes, stop. Move on and do something calming to end the exercise and provide some comfort. Stretch. Drink a glass of water. Take a shower. Eat a snack.
But most importantly, let it go.
There’s never been a manual for how to best handle life—and COVID-19 has rewritten whatever guideline we thought we had. The way we managed life before, may not be possible at the moment. But it is still possible to make it through this.
We’re are doing our best with what we have at the moment. I hope this serves as a reminder that we are not alone in this fight.