I have noticed that many of my friends, colleagues and people on social media have been struggling with distress as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Unforeseen circumstances such as unemployment or furlough, remote classes with increased workload, reduced availability of resources, weaker social support (familial or relationship) and increased illness are all stressful problems that can weigh heavily on us during this time. It is important to take some of that weight off our shoulders whenever possible – not just so the bare minimum of external accomplishments can be met but also so we can emerge from this crisis in one piece…Maybe even stronger than before.
A lot of the problems I listed are things that are completely out of our control. Learning how to let go of anxiety about uncontrollable stressors is a necessary life skill but it is also an extremely difficult one. While it is good to be prepared, staying focused on the immediate present can break a seemingly unmanageable, uncontrollable situation into bite-sized pieces. In other words, take it one day at a time and address things that are within your immediate control first. Meditation and mindfulness are ways to stay grounded in the present – both of which have been shown through various studies to reduce stress and improve the quality of life.
Another important skill that alleviates the distress of dealing with chaotic situations is the practice of gratitude. Of course, it is healthy to acknowledge any negative emotions and experiences you might be encountering in such a devastating crisis as this one. But being able to acknowledge the things going right in your life can help you focus on building yourself back up. If you have a safe place to stay, food to eat, a functioning immune system, a remote job, savings, financial stability, toilet paper or people that care about your well-being, you at least have something going right. Speaking from personal experience, if you ask what else could possibly go wrong, life will be happy to show you.
Other helpful tips include maintaining some sort of routine, getting enough nutrition, drinking plenty of water, exercising and doing at least one thing a day that you genuinely enjoy. It is crucial that we take a step back from the depressing news reports and incendiary political fights and just let ourselves exist once in a while. Taking a break can give you the peace of mind to stay informed and handle all coronavirus-centered issues. Most of all, remember that this storm will pass.