Coping with Uncertainty in the Age of COVID-19 – Part Three
As humans, we gravitate to opportunities that seem to give us control, a sense of security and safety. It makes us feel more comfortable, especially in times like we’re experiencing now. But these times are unlike anything we’ve experienced, so it’s important to take a deep breath and realize you’re not alone in your feelings.
In this final blog of a three-part series on uncertainty during the pandemic, we’ll explore tips for coping during the age of COVID-19 inspired by a recent NBC Better piece. Some of the tips may seem familiar to you, while others may be new. We also seek the professional advice of Dustin Webb, a licensed clinical social worker and administrator of behavioral health for Texas Health Dallas who shares advice for
At the risk of stating the obvious, there’s never been a better time to do things that make you happy. Yale psychologist Robin Stern recommends looking for joy in any situation, whether cooking a meal, chatting with an old friend, or watching a funny movie. “We need those warm, caring moments right now,” she says.
Webb adds, “Doing something fun is an essential way to commit to treating your anxiety. It’s a distraction, and we could all use some distracting right now. Think about what makes you happy, whether it’s getting in a good workout, being outside, or reading a great book. The sky’s the limit, so use your imagination and have some fun. It will make you feel better!”
If it’s been a while since you’ve treated yourself to some fun, here’s a great article in Real Simple that may inspire you. Many of these recommended ideas may spark fun childhood memories and all are also perfect for the whole family. Some of our favorites: pitching a tent for a backyard camp out, picnicking in the backyard with your favorite foods, mastering a new dance step, make homemade ice cream, and running through the sprinkler.
If the idea of taking a journey or learning something new is more your thing, this Travel & Leisure article is chock full of ideas from virtual road trips to Machu Picchu and the Taj Mahal to watching a performance of New York’s Metropolitan Opera. Or take an online salsa class, learn to make a new cocktail or recipe from a celebrity chef. You can even livestream animals from baby owls to rescue elephants.
Lately it’s been pretty easy to see the glass as half empty. The Coronavirus has impacted the health and livelihood of many North Texans, and for many, the idea of gratitude seems a bit ludicrous. But according to Stern, it’s important to share with friends and family how much you appreciate them. When they, in turn, share their appreciation for us, it makes us feel good and cared for.
Spend some time thinking about the things that make you feel grateful – and you may be surprised at how much good there is in your life at the moment. This article in TalkSpace has four ideas for practicing gratitude in these times, including taking note of the things that make you smile. Your list can be simple things like sleeping late, flowers, blue skies and a recent TED Talk you enjoyed.
Webb says when it comes to gratitude, start with yourself. “Ask yourself what you appreciate about you. This practice helps you learn to appreciate good qualities in others, too. Gratitude is a significant and positive emotion, and when you’re in that place mentally, it can help you avoid the fear and anxiety driven by the uncertainty of this moment.”
Take Control of What You Can Control
When so many aspects of our daily lives seem out of control, it’s important to reflect on what you can control. For example, look at your daily routine – or create a new one that suits your life, according to Arie Kruglanski, a professor of psychology at the University of Maryland. He says routine can help us stay on track throughout the day, as we progress to bigger goals. He also suggests looking for opportunities to catch up on a backlog of rainy day-type projects you’ve been meaning to tackle.
Webb says he encourages his clients to live in the gray area. “Many people are struggling these days, and part of the reason is they’re not giving themselves enough options. Everything is black or white, and I remind them to enjoy the small victories in life. If you’re only giving yourself two options, with one being great and the other opposite, you’re probably doing it wrong. Look for the gray area and celebrate the little things these days.