COVID CHRONICLES (Part 2) By CASSIDI LONG, LCMHC
I’m sure you never thought you would live in a global pandemic. I know I didn’t! As Covid-19 continues to impact our lives in many ways, I think it’s important to understand how you’re managing everything. What does your day to day look like? How are you taking care of yourself? These are not questions I asked myself until I noticed the weight of just getting by. I noticed that I was on auto pilot and felt detached to an extent that I knew was harmful. Although things have changed significantly, I realized that I didn’t have to stop enjoying my life. Even though things were difficult in a way that I had never experienced, I didn’t want to stop experiencing joy. Of course, joy looks different these days but is not completely absent. I realized that joy was watching music videos from 1999 on YouTube and dancing around my house. Cash Money really did take over for the 99 and the 2000s. Joy was taking my dog on long walks and being mindful and present in nature. Joy was Facetiming with a friend who lives out of state that I never had time to catch up with until now. Joy was trying new recipes and patting myself on the back and having a good meal when it was actually edible. Joy has been keeping my plant alive. All this is not to minimize the depression, anxiety, paranoia, anger and frustration that we have experienced. It’s ok to be angry about being laid off. It’s ok to be angry about your cancelled wedding. It’s ok to be sad about the cruise you had to cancel. It’s ok to feel defeated, tired and helpless because of the state of the world. It’s ok to mourn those that have been lost to this awful virus. It’s ok to mourn all loss. We are essentially grieving everything that we have lost. Negativity has been at the forefront for so long that it has become our normal. It’s everywhere! The media shows us the worst of the worst every day, it was bound to take a toll on us both physically and emotionally.
So, what’s the answer? While I certainly don’t have all the answers or the solutions, I do believe that help exits, there’s always hope and healing is possible. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mental health and the importance of taking care of your emotional needs. Therapy is a great way to process how you’re feeling about not only the pandemic but anything you need to cope with, address, heal from, or hope to change, increase, decrease or improve. If therapy is not available or you’re not quite ready, it’s important to assess your self-care. I’m not talking about bath bombs and shopping sprees. I’m talking about the basic care of self. On a daily basis, what are you providing for your body? Are you drinking enough water? Are you getting enough nutrients and vitamins? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you getting enough socialization or are you isolated? How are you taking care you your mind? Are you consuming positive or negative content? Are you comparing your life to the lives portrayed on social media? How are you talking to yourself? Are you hyping yourself up or are you beating yourself down? While there are so many things we can’t control, there are a few things that we can. Focus on those things for yourself. You have options and you have choice and therefore you can be empowered. Make choices about how you will spend your time outside of work. Make choices about who you will spend your time with and what you will do. Make choices about what you will eat for dinner, what book you’ll read, what podcast you’ll listen to, and your next Netflix binge. These things may seem small but they can make a big impact. We often feel like we don’t have much authority or agency in the midst of all the things that we have to do, it’s easy to forget the things that we want to do. Even if it’s only once a week, take an opportunity for something that you want to do, whether that’s 5 minutes to have a cup of coffee, a nap, journaling, a trip to Target or a therapy session. Pandemic or not, moments of joy are possible.