Coping in the Time of COVID

“The times they are a changing” – Bob Dylan

The recent rise in COVID cases in Michigan and the USA attest to the fact that the change is not over yet.  Anxiety and depression are on the rise…not to mention domestic violence, substance abuse and divorce.  So how does one survive these times and develop resilience to the onslaught of bad news?

One factor to consider in these stressful times is to determine how much and where you have control and where you do not. No situation in life has complete control and few have little or no control.  But you would not be paying attention if you did not at times feel the whole of society is a bit out of control right now.  Below are 6 things to consider when coping with these seemingly uncertain times.

  1. In general, there are 2 types of coping. Problem focused and emotion focused.  For situations where you have a high degree of control it is best to try to “solve” the problem by testing various solutions (e.g. make a rule that talking politics at the Thanksgiving dinner is off limits). For situations that have low control (COVID, Geopolitics, etc.) it is best to control your emotional reaction (e.g. listen to favorite music, learn relaxation methods, distract yourself with a good book).
  2. Think Small. The farther events get from our personal lives, the less control we tend to have over them.  Limit just how much you focus on national and world events that are outside of your control (this does not mean be uninformed) and bring your attentions more closely to your family, work, community, or church.
  3. Know and/or discover doable activities that fill you up. Each of us needs an activity or two that fills our souls, spirits, bodies, and minds. What are those things for you? A walk in the park? Prayer? Playing with your kids or grandkids?  Whatever it is that fills you back up, make it a part of your new routine.
  4. Stay interpersonally connected. While social restrictions and distancing make connecting with family and friend more challenging, it is more important now than ever to use your social support system and be part of an active social support network to others you care about.  With today’s technology time and distance need not be barriers.
  5. Stay protected and healthy. While we have all heard the messages about masks and hand washing, your physical and emotional resilience can be enhanced by eating well, staying active and if you take medication for any chronic conditions … stay well supplied and adherent.
  6. Be grateful. Experience and express gratitude daily. While all can seem bleak, the fact is that we all have good things in our lives and evidence shows that intentionally focusing on things for which you are grateful can have an immediate and lasting impact on your emotional state.

Written by: Steve Schwartz PhD, FLP
Heron Ridge Associates

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