Wow. This is the only word I can think of during this time in our lives. First of all, I wanted to send my prayers out to those who have been affected by COVID-19. Second, thank you to all the first responders who risk their lives to help those affected by the virus; doctors, nurses, medical staff; firemen, EMTs, etc. Lastly, thank you for all those that are still working in order to keep all of us going. The grocery store clerks, gas station attendants, bank tellers, airline workers, transportation, communication, delivery drivers, etc.
Anxiety. Fear. Frustration. Sad. Overwhelmed. Worry. Guilt. Anger. Shock. Denial. I keep hearing these are the emotions that are coming up for you (and me) during this difficult time. It is understandable and it is okay. We've never seen anything like this in our lifetime. This virus is not only affecting the United States, it is affecting the world.
I have to admit, I did not realize how serious this was until February. Although we weren’t quarantined yet, I noticed people were getting sick and the numbers were growing worldwide. Early March, I began hearing rumblings of a quarantine coming, so I began setting up my home office and buying food. My anxiety started to rise because I didn’t know when the shelter-in-place was coming. When it finally hit, I felt a little at ease. Of course, when I began to see the confirmed cases and death toll rising, I became concerned again. I was shocked, anxious, and frustrated. Everything was moving so fast. Like many of you, I didn’t know what tomorrow would bring. I was worried about getting the virus when I went out shopping or to the bank. I was worried about my husband, children, loved ones, clients and friends. Were they going to get it? I couldn’t sleep. I was emotionally exhausted. I felt like a zombie walking around my house and running errands. I had no clue what to do next. Like many of you, I like to plan my life. Most of the time I know what to expect, and if life throws me a curve ball, I could usually figure it out. If I couldn’t, I would ask someone. This time, I had no clue what to do. This time, I had no one to ask. This was unlike any other pandemic that we had seen. After a few days, some people hit the ground running with articles, blogs, Facebook/IG Lives; on how to get through this time. I read a few, but it became way too overwhelming. I decided to sit tight and feel my feelings. I didn’t run away, distract myself or numb out. I knew if I did that, the feelings would reappear much stronger. To be honest, I needed more than one sitting to get through these emotions. It took the first week of isolation to name what I was going through. During that time, I tried different ways to cope with everything that is happening. I have continued to use these tips. I hope they will help you too.
Stay Home, Stay Safe
Please listen to the experts. This is not the time to rebel and be a risk-taker. This is not the time to go rogue. This can be a life or death situation. Protect yourself and others. Follow the recommendations of the CDC, WHO and government officials.
Wash Your Hands. Social Distancing, etc.
Keep yourself clean. Again, check the websites I named above on tips on how to prevent yourself from contracting COVID19.
I know you want to keep informed. I am right there with you. It is easy to go down the wormhole of Coronavirus. However, too much information can cause anxiety, fear, depression, confusion, even guilt. I know things change frequently and you may be worried about missing something important. If you find yourself feeling emotional every time you read the news and statistics, maybe cut back. Unfortunately, the news is consistently negative. The feel good stories are usually at the end. Most likely you are not going to feel good when you are reading or watching the number of COVID19 cases and deaths rise. If you look at the news every hour, limit it to every other hour. Or every few hours. I found myself waking up and scrolling through my phone while in bed. I started my day with negativity. Now I wait until I get out of bed, and finish my routine before scrolling the news.
Get Some Fresh Air
Get some fresh air, while remembering social distancing. Take a walk around the block, sit on your porch, balcony or backyard. It gets stuffy in the house. You need to smell fresh air, hear the birds chirping and smell the flowers. It’s springtime!!
Try Meditation, Prayer, Mindfulness, Breathe
Quiet your mind. Anxiety and worry can cause your brain to be on overload. In this uncertain world, calming and clearing your mind is helpful. It can be for as long as you want. Two minutes, to 20 minutes. If you don’t know how, try an app. There are many good ones out there. Headspace, Calm, Balance or Liberate. Deepak Chopra has a 21-day guided meditation with Oprah. If none of those work, try just listening to rain drops, or ocean waves, or slow jams from your favorite artist. Anything that will help soothe your mind.
Connect with Friends and Family Virtually
This has been great. Thank you Zoom and Facetime for providing platforms for us to talk to our family, friends and coworkers. Besides business meetings, some of you have enjoyed Happy Hours, birthday parties, dates, dinner parties, all virtually. We are in this together. Let’s support each other. You don’t need to be alone right now. If you don’t like video, phone calls work too.
Find a Creative Outlet
Well, you have some time on your hands, so you might as well use it. Try one of the hobbies you’ve wanted to try but never had time. Cooking, baking, drawing, painting, singing, dancing, yoga, gardening, etc. If you don’t know where to start, find a class online. Youtube, Udemy, Lynda are a few places you can find online classes.
If you workout outside, remember social distancing. Running, walking, bike riding, skateboarding are just a few you can do outside. If you are inside, there are plenty of classes online. Many yoga, dance, and martial art instructors have moved their classes online. Youtube has plenty of fitness videos. Relieve stress by working out.
Listen to Music
Music can be so healing. I don’t know about you, but music has gotten me through break-ups, studying in college, arguments with parents during my teen years, grueling workouts, commuting in traffic, etc. I know it can get me through COVID19. I’ve been joining DJ DNIce at #ClueQuaratine on Instagram. I also discovered DJ Cummerband on Youtube and Home Office DJ on itunes. It’s been fun and healing. Find the music that will help you get through this uncertain time.
Find a Mental Health Clinician
If you are still struggling, reach out to a mental health clinician to process your feelings. Myself and others are offering appointments virtually, so you don’t have to leave your home.
Let a professional help you process what you are going through. If you are in California, I have a few slots open to help you. I offer phone and video appointments. You can find clinicians on Therapy For Black Girls, Psychology Today, or your insurance company.
I hope this blog has helped you. Let me know what has worked for you.
Stay safe and healthy.
I am a therapist who helps individuals who are motivated to transform their inner voice of self-doubt and self-criticism into a powerful voice of positive self-talk and self-trust. We help individuals recognize their inner worth, build their self-esteem and speak their truth.