Since March, life has been very, very different. It’s hard to know how to deal with all the changes. A lot of us apparently started this journey hoarding toilet paper and learning how to make sourdough starter. We attended virtual concerts starring big-name musicians who broadcast from their living rooms. We watched the news incessantly, learned how to Zoom, and tried desperately to keep up with what we should and shouldn’t be doing to ensure the safety of ourselves and our loved ones.
It has been a long, difficult six months.
No one can be blamed for having a lot of emotions right now. As people keep pointing out, this is an “unprecedented” situation. Between the disruption of our daily lives and the sky-high levels of uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, it’s a miracle that we’re managing to hold it together at all.
And this point—half a year in—seems to be especially challenging. In the early days, we were all running on adrenaline. We couldn’t see what was coming. Many people, whose lives allowed for such luxuries, even found silver linings in being able to stay home with family, slow down, take up new hobbies, and “Netflix and chill.”
But now we seem, collectively, to be hitting the quarantine wall, so to speak. People are tired and discouraged. They miss their friends. They miss going out. They miss life the way it used to be.
We understand. We miss all that, too.
To help you navigate these difficult times, we’d like to share a few tips.
5 Tips for Coping with Life in the Time of Covid
Know that you’re not in this alone.
While the widespread loss caused by the pandemic does little to reduce anxiety, it is somehow comforting to know that we’re all in this together. In the spring, apart-but-together yard signs and homemade thank you banners for essential workers helped convey a sense of community and mutual caring. Now, several months later, commiserating with friends about the ongoing situation remains a reliable way to blow off some steam and get perspective.
It’s important to remember, however, that—as the meme says—we may all be in the same storm, but we’re in different boats. While some people were able to transition to working remotely, others had to continue putting themselves at risk in essential jobs. While some had savings to ride out economic hardships with only minor inconvenience, others have lost their homes. When talking with others about your experience, be aware that theirs may be very different from yours.
Cut yourself some slack.
Inspired by stories of Shakespeare writing King Lear while in quarantine during the bubonic plague, some people found new passions and tapped into creative reserves during the initial covid lockdowns. Others could do little more than curl up on the sofa with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and the remote. Both of these options are completely valid. There is no wrong way to cope with a pandemic. Everyone has good days and bad days. Judging others or yourself won’t help anyone get by any easier.
Managing expectations is a critical skill to hone right now. If you are measuring your mood or productivity against a pre-pandemic benchmark, you’re probably never going to measure up. Similarly, try to resist the temptation to compare what you’re doing with what anyone else is doing.
Also, remember that while social media can be a great way to keep up with friends virtually, it rarely ever shows the “whole picture.” Don’t judge the messiness of your real life against the curated perfection of someone else’s published life.
Be a “helper.”
In any moment of crisis, whole generations of people turn to the comforting words of Mr. Fred Rogers, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” While this is excellent advice for small children, it is only good for adults up to a point. We are all inspired by watching the good works of others, but—as adults—we need to do more than watch. We need to step up and lend a hand.
There are countless ways to help—organizations that need donations of money and food, people who need help with errands, and many other opportunities. Tune into what’s happening in your community to see where you can offer support or resources. You’ll feel better for having helped.
Reduce your news intake, and look for small bits of happiness.
It’s important to stay in the loop on what’s happening in the world, but in times like these the news can quickly become very overwhelming. Instead of automatically tuning into a daily news broadcast or scanning the headlines of every publication that comes across your radar, make some intentional choices about which news you’ll consume and how often. The media would have you believe you can’t afford to miss a single story, but—trust us—you’ll be fine.
Select your news sources carefully. Steer clear of those that use sensationalism and fear-driven headlines to garner more eyeballs. You can vet a lot of popular news sources using the Interactive Media Bias Chart by ad fontes media. Choose wisely, and then limit your exposure. And then spend the time you save doing something that brings you joy. Bake some cookies with a loved one, read a great novel, have a long-distance coffee date with a friend, or take a nap!
Take care of yourself.
Speaking of naps, it’s important to take care of yourself during times like these. Stress and anxiety are not only harmful on their own, they can greatly exacerbate other physical and emotional issues. Do your best to stay healthy by eating as well as you can, getting enough sleep, and finding ways to move every day. Get outside as often as possible; fresh air and sunlight can do wonders.
It can also help to come up with some routines that make you happy and provide some structure to your day. You can take up morning yoga or experiment with a different dinner routine. Maybe the thing that grounds you is having that first cup of your special tea in the morning. Sometimes, all the routine you need is going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Do what works for you. Self-care is a very personal thing.
Don’t worry. We’ll get there. Until then, be kind.
There’s a lot happening, and it’s okay to be confused, anxious, and even downright scared. From the pandemic to growing social unrest to the extremely fraught election, there’s a lot to worry about. Just try to remember that you’re not alone, there are things you can do to take care of yourself and the people around you, and we will eventually get to the other side of this grueling experience. And when we do, we’ll have quite the story to tell our grandkids.