Know What to Expect
Sometimes, the best we can do to manage challenges is to be realistic about what’s coming. The situation with COVID-19 is shifting constantly. But you can likely anticipate certain things:
- Your normal routines will be disrupted. You may be asked to behave in ways that are different or uncomfortable. This can cause stress.
- You may need to stay away from big groups of people. This can be a challenge since people provide support.
- You may have to stop doing activities that brought you joy.
- For some, other practical stressors come into play. Loss of income may become a reality.
Take Stock of Your Feelings
Understanding your reactions to COVID-19 will help you find the best ways to work through your feelings. You may experience some or all of the following in response to COVID-19 information:
- Fear and Worry
- You may feel fear and worry about you or someone you love contracting COVID-19.
- You may feel anxiety about obtaining basic needs such as food and water. It’s natural to feel worry about providing for your family.
- This situation is confusing and concerning. The trick will be to separate your realistic worries that keep you safe from the ones that are causing distress.
- Sadness and Loneliness
- Being kept away from daily activities and people that bring you joy can cause sadness.
- In addition, being asked to stay home may bring up loneliness, boredom, or isolation feelings. The news itself can be difficult, too.
- Sadness is a part of life. As painful as it is, it lets us know that we’re human. It helps us remember that our lives and our health are precious.
- Anger, Frustration, and Irritability
- Being told to behave differently or live within restrictions can feel like a loss of freedom. It can cause frustration.
- Also, you may be experiencing anger toward those who seem responsible.
- You may feel strong emotions about those whose behavior you see as careless or dangerous.
- For those who are battling other illnesses or may have been exposed to COVID-19, you may feel as if you are being treated differently by others.
Examine Your Thoughts
Feelings and thoughts are connected. If you take a hard look, strong feelings are almost always connected to one or more specific thoughts. If you can identify the thought, you can argue against it like a prosecutor, and adjust your feelings in the process.
1. Identify Your Thoughts
- If you’re feeling overwhelmed, first try to recognize what thoughts you’re having. An example of a thought might be, "I have been having some symptoms that seem similar to COVID-19." Or “I am going to die from this.” Or “the world is never going to be the same.”
- It’s important to get the thought right so that it reflects what you are actually thinking.
2. Give Your Thought a Closer Look
- Now take that thought and examine it like a curious scientist.
- Is this thought really true? If you had to argue your case, would you stand behind it 100%?
- What evidence do you have that says it is accurate? Is there any more data you can gather to be sure it is definitely true?
3. Look For Another Thought
- Look for a subtler, more balanced thought. Say it out loud if you can. This may seem like a small, silly thing, but the way we speak to ourselves has a big impact on how we cope.
- For example, instead of “the world is never going to be the same” try “some things about the world may change, but the world is always changing and I’ve adapted before.”