As I continue to meet with clients, I am noticing patterns in how we are all dealing with the virus. In the beginning, it seemed we were all shocked that this could happen in our lifetime. Then, some were seeing the positives of life slowing down and enjoying the time with family. I heard about board games being played, connecting with friends and family was fun and even staying in pajama pants was great.
This next stage has appeared harder for folks. The time together and little space for alone time has some struggling. Parents are struggling with home schooling pressures and behavior issues with kids. Couples are fighting more and feeling the pressures of home duty inequalities.
It seems the weight of the stress of the virus is now like a heavy coat. It’s harder to carry it and when there is no end in sight, it makes it feel heavier.
Chronic unpredictable stress is what we are all experiencing right now. Being in a state of constant alarm can start to deplete your resources and it can affect you physically, mentally and emotionally.
You might notice that you are having trouble sleeping when you never had in the past. Your attention might have decreased, and your kids are finding that learning is more difficult. Perhaps you are turning to junk food as well to cope. All of this depletes your coping resources.
I used to run marathons in the past and I remember one way that I used to cope with finishing a race was to focus on knowing there was a finish line. I could count down the miles till the end came.
When there is no finish line, it can be hard to cope in what feels like a hard race. Even if we had a date set in stone to know that this would all end and normalcy would resume, it would be easier to cope.
Between carrying a heavy coat and running a race with no end, we can tend to feel depleted.
So, what can you do to help yourself right now?
You can continue to structure your day. You can find time to have alone time even if it’s in another room. Designate that time and tell your family you need that time for yourself.
You can create some new goals for daily guided meditation. I recommend using the guided meditation apps so that if you are new to meditation, you have someone queuing you to stay focused.
You can read a book. Taking a mental trip to a new place can be a nice way to cope and escape for a little bit as well. I recommend not using a virtual book as we have our eyes on screens most of the time right now and we need breaks from that. Sleep can be affected by how much we are looking at screens.
Exercising is also a good coping tool. Take daily walks. Don’t listen to anything on headphones. Just take in the sounds. This too can be a form of meditation.
Recently, I have been keeping a set of hand weights by my desk at home to use between clients and on breaks. Just another form of exercise but when I do get to show off my arms again, I might finally be toned!
Another coping tool is to set a mental date for yourself. I know we all don’t have answers right now but maybe setting a tentative date for things to end would be a good idea and give you something to shoot for.
As a former military spouse, I remember long deployments and sometimes, the dates of return would move but I set a date to shoot for. This helped me to cope even if the date would move a bit. It gave me something to shoot for and this alone helped me cope.
I know these times are hard. It’s hard to carry the heavy coat. If you need someone to walk alongside of you to lean on occasionally, call us for an appointment. We would be honored to walk alongside of you.