First and foremost, it’s okay to not be feeling okay. These are uncertain and stressful times, so it’s only natural to be feeling anxious, depressed, lonely, frightened, and all the feels one could feel. Let those emotions ride themselves out and sit with it. Know that you are not alone, we are all feeling a mix of emotions, myself included. Some people just won’t admit it, some deny it, and some mask it better than others. In reality we are all in this together and are facing the same challenges and when this pandemic is over, we would have all shared and lived through this experience together. How many life events can we really say that we share at the exact same moment in time?
So how do you get through a time like this?
As a therapist, it is sometimes expected that we know all the answers or have it all together. The truth is, we don’t (at least I don’t), especially not now during a global pandemic. What I do have are tips, suggestions and ideas for what works for me, my clients, family and friends to get through each day. But take from this, try things out and adapt it to what suits you!
An important and critical piece of advice is be kind and talk kindly to yourself. When you talk to yourself as you would to a friend, you will start feeling better as well. Don’t beat yourself up if you weren’t as productive as you wanted to be, or haven’t cooked up Instagram worthy dishes, or cleaned your home like everyone else on Facebook. It’s enough that you’re doing you! You’re in survival mode and you’re surviving, that’s all that matters.
Seek help. A lot of us (I include myself in this category) struggle with asking for help. But if you’re feeling down, anxious, scared or alone, chances are so are others (your friends, family, coworkers). Reach out and connect with them. If you don’t have anyone you can talk to, make a quick Google search for a professional therapist, many are offering free consultations. Make use of those, and once you’ve found a therapist you connect with, talk to them regularly, they can help you get through this.
Set a routine. But be flexible with it. A schedule gives you a sense of order, which is something we need in a time like this, where days blend together and nights drag on.
Have a designated work-space, if you’re working from home. This can emulate work life and distinguish it from your personal life as much as possible, especially if you’re in a small space or apartment. While you’re at it, dress like you would for work or at least out of your pajamas. This again creates a distinction between work life and personal life and your days won’t seem like a mesh of “it’s already dinner time?” and “OMG, it’s only 2pm!”
Make a playlist of feel-good songs. This one is one of my faves. Uplifting music always brings a bit of cheer even on those long, depressing days.
Keep a journal. This allows you to get things off your mind and chest so you no longer have to carry its weight with you, in turn allowing you to feel lighter.
Take walks. Break up your day with walks in nature. Try to notice something new that you have missed the day before.
Meditate. I know many of you may think this is some hippy, yoga thing; and admittedly, at one point, I did too! However, practicing it brings a level of peace and grounding into my life. Those who practice and meditate also see some clarity and are more in tune with their bodies. Plus, what do you have to lose in giving it a try? Start with a short 5 minute guided meditation in the morning and see what difference it brings to your day.
Make a list of things you’re thankful for. It’s easy to lose sight of things we’re grateful for in a time of crisis. Imagine if we were social distancing in the early 2000s with dial-up internet and Nokia cellphones for entertainment. For better (or for worse) at least we have a plethora of information and entertainment at our fingertips.
Watch something that uplifts you. Whether it’s a guilty pleasure show, some YouTuber or a cheesy movie with a happy ending, it can lift your spirits and during a crisis, our spirits can use some lifting.
Bring out the child in you. Do something you used to love doing, that made you happy but you no longer had time for or simply grew up from. Do a puzzle, build LEGO, play a board game or video game, draw, colour, paint, crochet or knit, whatever brings out that joy for you.
Pamper yourself. Take a bath, have a candle-light dinner, do a face mask, paint your nails. You deserve it!
Take breaks off social media and your phone. I know this one may be harder for some of you in our technologically savvy age but it’s important not to be vicariously living other people’s life, instead focus on your own. I guarantee you that social media account with all those wonderful posts and the have-it-all appearance, is just that! An appearance. Focus on what you have!
Finally, distance yourself from things that don’t make you feel good. That includes limiting the news. You don’t need the breakdown of statistics on the number of cases for COVID-19, you just need to know you’re doing okay and your friends and family are doing okay.
#covid19 #quarantinelife #socialdistancing #survivalskills