Coping with COVID-19

Living through a pandemic is most likely something we’ve never imagined experiencing.  Our daily lives have been greatly disrupted on every level, which can lead to anxiety and distress for many of us. Here are some tips to help you get through this crisis.

  • Be aware of your feelings – With social distancing, it’s easy to feel alone, lost or isolated.  Many of the things that we used to do to bring us joy, such as large family gatherings, watching sports on TV or working out at a gym, are no longer recommended or available to us. 
    • Own your feelings – it’s OK to feel scared, confused or overwhelmed at times, just as it’s OK to feel joy and happiness.  When you identify your feelings you can control them.  “Name it to tame it” as we like to say.  Owning your feelings can give you a sense of control over what’s going on in your life.  However, it’s important to recognize if one particular feeling is taking over your life.  Journaling is a great way to recognize what you’re feeling and will help you identify patterns.
    • Stay in the moment and be present.  What we may all be feeling is “anticipatory grief.”  As we lose our routines and the daily life that we once knew, it’s hard not to feel a sense of loss.  Right now, there is a fear of the unknown.  We know our world is changing and we don’t have control over that.  It was the same thing after September 11th.  On that day, it felt like the world was falling apart.  It probably feels like the world is falling apart now, too. 
    • You can’t control everything, but you can control you.  Let go of what you can’t control.  Concentrate on what you can do to control the situation.  Maintain 6 feet of social distance from other people and wash your hands. 
    • Take it one hour, one day and one week at time.  Worrying about the future can be too anxiety-provoking.  Focus on what you are doing right now and what you need to do right now will ease your mind.
    • Turn off the TV and take a holiday from social media – 24-hour news and the Internet is great because it puts information at our fingertips instantly.  However, during a time like this, the constant barrage of information can be overwhelming and confusing.  Limit your sources of information to those that are trustworthy such as the CDC, New York State Dept. of Health or the Monroe County Health Department.  Make it a point to watch the news or engage on social media only once or twice a day. 
    • Take time for yourself – “Simple Pleasures” are the little things that bring us joy.  It might vary from reading a book to talking a walk or working on a hobby.  Sew, knit, do a puzzle, cook your favorite meal.  Find whatever it is that brings you joy and enjoy it today.
    • Connect with Nature – go for a walk, sit outside, watch the birds and squirrels, enjoy the budding spring flowers.  Do nothing but listen.  Be still and you will see nature all around you.  The warmth of the sun on your skin after winter can be a simple pleasure in and of itself.
    • Be sure to eat right – Diet can play a huge factor in how we are feeling.  Everyone needs “comfort food” now and then and it’s certainly okay to indulge once in a while.  Eating nutritious healthy food will also boost your immune system and help you fight off illnesses.
    • Connect with friends and family through technology – Facetime, Skype, Zoom and video calling are all great ways to stay connected with those you love, even if you can’t physically be with them.
    • Seek guidance from a professional – Even with all of these tips, sometimes it’s just not enough. A mental health professional can help you process through this difficult time and get you back on the road to feeling healthy.  Mental health is just as important as physical health.  New York State has established a hotline for assistance.  That number is 1-844-863-9314.  It is important that you make yourself a priority.

Most of all, remember that the sun always shines after the storm.  We will get through this together!

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