This Isn’t ‘Business as Usual’

By: Courtney Hart

 

It’s amazing how much I am missing “normal life,” and I am wondering if you can relate.

I was recently listening to a sociologist talking about impacts of the coronavirus on our society. She was discussing the types of changes we have experienced in our lives since COVID-19 began spreading in the United States. She noted that these societal changes (the way we interact with each other (or don’t), purchase goods, consume education, earn a paycheck, etc.) typically evolve over years, even multiple decades. We, on the other hand, went from one way of living, interacting, and engaging one day to a completely different experience the next.  There is no question that this radical and rapid shift in the way we exist is affecting us – in all kinds of ways. It is no wonder that we have increased anxiety symptoms, are struggling with sleep, have feelings of isolation, are feeling more irritated, and are having a hard time focusing on tasks at hand (just to name a few of the negative psychological side effects of this pandemic and subsequent quarantine). As I thought this through, it was like something became a little clearer for me: the struggle we are enduring isn’t only because we are dealing with a crisis, but it is also because we are trying to adjust to a fundamentally new way of life with almost no time to catch up.

As a clinician who is a major fan of solution-focused brief therapy (along with humanistic/Rogerian theory, but that’s a topic for another day), my mind quickly went from considering the issue at hand to “okay, so what can we do with what is happening around us?” An answer to this is making sure that we take care of ourselves. This seems easy enough, and it’s something we hear a lot, but we might be left with the question of “well, how do I do that?” There are many, many things you can do to “self-care,” but it isn’t one-size-fits-all. Self-care is inherently personal. I would encourage you to consider what activities make you feel lighter, brighter, happier, and more balanced. Once you name those things, I would encourage you to write them down and (this is key!) make sure you prioritize them in your life. For the practice of self-care to be effective, it is important to make these activities part of your daily routine. If you aren’t sure where to start with considering what activities you would put on your list or you want to add some new strategies to your list, here are some ideas:

 

  •         Implementing structure and routine
  •         Eating healthy/drinking water
  •         Good sleeping habits
  •         Learning a new skill
  •         Reading (on paper!)
  •         Getting active (walking, running, riding a bike)
  •         Intentional time away from technology
  •         Finding fun and laughter
  •         Connecting with people you care about
  •         Expressing your feelings by talking or journaling (Remember, it’s always okay to ask for help. These days, I’m only an email away!)

Of course this list isn’t exhaustive – there are many more things you can try. If you have a really good way of taking care of yourself that isn’t on here and you want to share, I would love to hear about it!

These certainly are unusual times, and it is important to remember that there will be an end to this. We will return to “normal,” even if it looks a little different for a while. In the meantime, we should all be gentle on ourselves. The only way we get through this is one day at a time, and I encourage you to do the best you can today, but then put it down. Until we get to see each other again, I hope you all are staying healthy, well, and positive!