For nearly two years, everyone’s emotions have been up and down. We’ve been confused, befuddled, nervous, frightened, numbed, exhausted, relieved. And just when we think it’s okay to take a deep breath and calm down, we get more bad news about the pandemic that makes us start that cycle of feelings all over again.
While millions worldwide have died of Covid, millions more are suffering from mild to severe mental health issues due to the uncertainty of the pandemic and the need to learn to live with all the ups and downs that accompany it. Anxiety and anxiety-related illnesses and disorders are rampant, both in big cities and small towns and in people of all ages. We don’t know who and what to trust and live in constant fear of succumbing to a disease that still baffles science, or of contracting that disease and passing it to someone else at high risk, like an elderly parent or an immune-compromised friend.
We’ve all been waiting for this to end, but experts tell us that it could still be a while before the pandemic becomes endemic, and some stress the fact that we may never truly get back to the way things were prior to March 2020. We’ll going to have to learn to live with the “new normal”, they say, even though we’re not exactly sure what that will be.
So…how do we get over the stress?
At some point during the pandemic, chances are we all had issues with some or all of the following:
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling powerless
- Excessive fatigue
- Inability to concentrate
Maybe you’ve started to shorten that list now, especially if you’re vaccinated, but still feel as if you’re not quite back to normal. After all, we’re being told it’s time to move on at the same time officials are saying, “But wait a minute! There’s still that next variant to worry about!”. So, how do you get comfortable with this new normal, this normal that’s a bit uncertain and unsettling?
Finding ways to cope
So, Covid is here to stay…but so are we. That means it’s necessary for us to work on our mental health so that we can feel like ourselves again and get back to being productive, friendly, calm, and happy. But how?
There are all sorts of ways to become more resilient, and sometimes that involves NOT doing some things that you’ve been doing. For example, it might be a good idea to give up watching or reading the daily news. For many, it’s been a source of anxiety and confusion. You may want to stop talking to that friend or family member who’s all “doom and gloom”. They’re not doing you any good!
Activities you DO want to try should include daily exercise and good nutrition. Exercising daily doesn’t mean you need to jog 5 miles a day or do 50 push-ups each morning. Start with what works best for you, which might be a 1/2-mile walk to start and maybe some gentle stretching exercises. While you’re at it, think about what’s going in your stomach. Curb your sugar intake a bit, stock up on green veggies, get plenty of protein, and treat yourself to something special a few times a week. Getting back to normal isn’t about depriving oneself or beating yourself up about your current state. It’s about self-care!
The pandemic represented – for most of us – a loss of connection. Kids missed their schoolmates. Adults were separated from their work buddies or social groups. Elderly individuals were unable to be with younger family members. This was the most horrendous part of the pandemic for nearly everyone, especially individuals who are gregarious and extroverted. But fear can make it difficult to get back to doing social things or to assimilate back into a classroom. Nonetheless, reconnecting will be part of the healing process.
Reaching out for a hand
Let’s face it. Pandemic and post-pandemic stress and anxiety can be difficult to handle and you just may need some help coping with it, especially if you feel like it’s holding you back. So don’t be afraid to reach out for professional therapy if you’re still dealing with anxiety, depression, or even anger as a result of the pandemic. Just because it’s “almost over” doesn’t mean you can just flip a switch and get back to normal.
Take heart in the things the pandemic might have given you, like a chance to examine your work situation closely, time with immediate family, extra hours for hobbies and other activities, and an opportunity to slow down and connect with what’s important. But as you make your way into the “new normal”, remember to give yourself time to adjust.
If you need some extra help dealing with your post-pandemic anxiety, Dr. Ellie Bolgar and her associates can assist you in getting over the hump and into a new way of life. For more information about our services, call us at 604-371-0198.