It is becoming overwhelmingly apparent that COVID-19 is shifting the way we live, likely for a longer stretch than two weeks. Full disclosure: I am the quintessential extrovert, I gain energy from being out of the house, around others, and despite my rational knowledge that this will be fine, this has been an emotional time for me considering the time away from others is the safest thing for everyone right now.
I won’t pretend to be an expert in this vastly different landscape, but I can tell you that for me, this feels like a huge loss, and I can guide you through a loss. The loss of our daily lives as we know them.
Recently the internet made fun of Sam Smith for having a bit of a breakdown, but let’s not be judgmental of one another and how we each are handling this major shift in culture.
If we can find ways to be supportive of each other right now, more of us will get through this in a positive way and come out better on the other side.
My hope is that very few of us face hard losses through this, but realistically many of us now face job or income loss, loss of at-risk loved ones, and loss of the activities in our lives that keep us emotionally healthy, and it is important in our switch to survival mode we allow ourselves space to mourn those losses, big and small. I am not encouraging wallowing, just acknowledging your feelings without judging yourself.
It is a wonderful thing to see so many people on social media rallying to try to stay positive and encourage one another, but if you do have a freak-out moment when you realize a favorite establishment is closed or your bestie got laid off, that is okay. Give yourself space to just feel the emotion, cry, journal, breathe into a paper bag, and let the emotion express itself naturally. If you let it run its course, you will release it and feel better. Holding onto emotions will only make anxiety build, and as we have seen, new changes are coming all the time, do not let them build up. Feel the emotion, let it go, and then move on.
If you are feeling stir-crazy, resist the urge to go out unnecessarily, yes it may ease your anxiety temporarily, but it is what the CDC is warning would increase the spread, so it will only increase the length of time we are needing to shelter in place. Be mindful of those around you and try to find closets to clean out, games to play with family or roommates at home, books to read, bodyweight exercises to try, or finally make the Duolingo owl STFU. Clean out the trunk of your car, find a guided meditation online, wash your windows, wash your dog, download a new game, write a murder mystery novel, color with your kids, do not let yourself think that going out and doing things due to boredom is safe or smart.
If you are seriously struggling contact a therapist, or sign up for BetterHelp, TalkSpace, or other telehealth counseling services. You do not need to wait or try to white-knuckle this. No one has been through something like this in our lifetimes and it is normal to need guidance. Most insurance companies are also allowing traditional therapists to conduct business via telehealth or phone if needed.
If you have to go to work during this time, be respectful by washing your hands before you leave and when you get there, using tissues for coughs and sneezes, staying home if sick, stay in your own office/avoid seeing coworkers in person if you can, wash hands often, and designate a place in (or outside of) your house for shoes, scrubs, work clothes, etc to go immediately to avoid spreading anything to your loved ones. If you are working during this time in literally any sector: THANK YOU.
We are so lucky to have this crisis in a time when there is an abundance of food and staple goods, delivery available, home entertainment, easy ways of communicating remotely, and so many other wonderful things, but that does not mean this will not be hard on you. Do not judge yourself for having a hard time. Acknowledge and express your emotions, and when you’ve finished a corona crisis, do something you are grateful for, like FaceTime-ing a friend to remind yourself we are still so amazingly lucky to be alive right now. Remind yourself you aren’t alone, we are all working through this too, and when you see someone struggling hard, try to lift them up.