During a time of crisis, there often comes a reverberation of circumstances that are a result of the actual emergency. In many cases, these circumstances evoke stressors that can often be more serious than the problem itself. Take, for example, a hurricane.
Although the wind, rain, and flooding are dangerous, they are unlikely to present serious risk if proper safety measures are taken. However, the stress from evacuation, hardship of displacement and destruction, and the anxiety of resource shortage and infrastructure degradation often causes complex long-term trauma which, when compared to the actual danger of the event, can be more significant.
With the Covid-19 pandemic starting to become a more severe challenge for our local, national, and global healthcare systems, we are beginning to see a crisis that is unprecedented in its scale and severity in modern times.
With this crisis are a plethora of factors that are a direct or indirect result of the virus which still hold serious implications to society, beyond just the risk of getting the disease itself. These risks include massive global economic impacts, a vast disruption to the workforce, and huge challenges to culture that range from cancellations of sporting events and concerts to the cancellation of social gatherings of all types.
One of the mitigation strategies for this worldwide incident presents not only an effective solution for slowing the epidemic; but also, a compound challenge for individuals across the planet.
Social distancing is commonly believed to be the main strategy for curbing the spread of Coronavirus, and although World Health Organization and Center for Disease Control recommendations are explicit in their urgency that the strategy must be followed and provide guidelines as to how to perform it, there is a shortage of proactive advice which encourages how to thrive while taking these preventative measures. In an effort to address the challenges that are a result of this crisis, we came up with a short list of approaches that may help you flourish during this challenging time.
Develop a Daily Routine
Routine is a very important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle during such a sudden upheaval in normal schedules and obligations. It can feel comfortable to decide to forgo normal habits due to being confined to the home, but it’s important to stay with the basics. Some examples include:
- Maintain sleep cycles, waking up and going to bed at the same time each day.
- Stick with your normal hygiene routine.
- Adhere to goals by making daily “to-do” lists.
- Exercise if possible.
- Take frequent breaks to avoid getting stuck in a rut, by stretching, getting fresh air, or meditation.
Plan Fun Events
Despite not being able to go out to socialize and have fun, it can still be easy to look forward to time with your partner, housemates, or family. Things like board game nights or trying a new recipe are great ways to have enjoyment without having to go out.
Connect with Loved Ones
Whether or not you have people that you are stuck at home with, it can be a great time to reach out to family and friends who under normal circumstances may be hard to line up with.
- Send a text or email, make a phone call or FaceTime, or even mail them a letter.
- Keep in mind that they may need your support during difficult times.
Random Acts of Kindness
A simple way to brighten the day for someone you’re with is to leave them messages of affirmation or draw them a picture. If alone during this time, write a message for yourself!
Limit News and Social Media
It’s tempting to get drawn in and become obsessed with everything going on during a time of crisis. While being informed is very important, necessary information can easily be obtained with minimal time invested.
- Pick a time during the day to watch the news for a maximum time frame (i.e from 5 to 5:30 each day)
Reassess Old Goals
Has that book you’ve been meaning to finish been collecting dust on the shelf? Is that craft project you started last month gotten pushed to the back of your closet? Use the downtime to get back to old commitments.
Focus on Gratitude
Making sure to take stock of everything you have to be grateful for is a great way to minimize stress in times of crisis. Writing out a gratitude list each day is a simple strategy to start this.
Be Gentle and Empathetic
Another way to help manage stress is to practice empathy, not only with others but especially with yourself.
- Avoid blame, work towards a state of forgiveness.
Identify Things You Can Control
One great way to strive for inner peace despite challenging circumstances involves identifying what elements of your situation you have control over, and do your best to let go of those things you don’t.
Using these strategies, we hope that you are able to overcome this unprecedented time having felt comfortable, content, and happy. Please feel free to leave any additional ideas that you may have in the comments!
About the Author: Sal Serpe and Lauren Rodgers, MA, LPC, LCAS is a licensed therapist in Wilmington, NC. She specializes in helping women who battle anxiety and depression to discover their strength and overcome the overwhelming feelings that keep them stuck. She facilitates group therapy for women with anxiety.
Evolution Wellness is a counseling center in Wilmington, NC that offers individual counseling and couple’s counseling. Our professional counselors are trained to listen with empathy and expertise and offer guidance to facilitate your personal growth.