COVID CHRONICLES (Part 4) By CASSIDI LONG, LCMHC
Life in pandemic times has been challenging, to say the least. It completely changed life as we knew it and we’re working daily to adjust, transition and pivot. Covid has significantly affected the way we work and engage with one another.
Let’s start with work. Some of us were unable to work from home and if you were considered essential then your job got 10x harder to manage the growing need for groceries, resources, and healthcare. You may have felt more stressed, more irritable, and more exhausted. On the other hand, you may have found yourself working from home while also managing the virtual learning of your children. Others lost their jobs completely and were left to make very difficult decisions in very uncertain times. You may have felt overwhelmed, frustrated, and helpless. Furthermore, it feels like we were expected to maintain the same pace while trying to cope with immense stress including poor sleep, appetite issues, uncertainty, fear, sadness, etc. Your emotions may have been overwhelming. How you cope with stress can impact all areas of your life including work. It’s important to communicate your concerns with colleagues and supervisors so that you can work together to create solutions. While difficult at times, communicate your needs and expectations to feel safe and comfortable in regard to Covid. Additionally, seeking therapy can be extremely beneficial with talking about your thoughts and feelings, identifying ways to cope and manage stress and feeling supported and validated. Ask your employer about access to mental health resources if you’re in need of additional assistance.
One of the biggest hinderances in the pandemic has been how we connect with one another. We were unable to see our friends and family, travel, go to the mall, or the movies. Although things have improved, we’re still struggling with engagement or for some, over engagement. Couples and families may have felt that they couldn’t take a break or have privacy due to covid restrictions. While we enjoy being around our loved ones, it’s natural to want time for ourselves. Conflict resolution and communication may have declined during this time so it will be important to be patient with your loved ones, set healthy boundaries and ask for what you need. On the other hand, some of us who live alone may have felt isolated and lonely. It can be challenging when you’re unable to see your friends and family and don’t have social outlets and human connection, which is a basic need. We certainly had to rely on technology to stay connected. Some of us picked up new hobbies like gardening, hiking, and biking. While things have been hard, perhaps it hasn’t been all bad. A lot of us received the opportunity to spend more time with our families, be more present with our loved ones and gained the gift of time that was previously filled with long commutes in traffic.
This blog entry will conclude the Covid Chronicles. While we’re still very much in a pandemic, I hope that you were able to consider the pros and the cons of current times, make important decisions about your social and emotional health, and feel a little more motivated to be present with yourself and others. Taking care of yourself is very important. Consider therapy if you need assistance with your mental health. Utilize healthy coping skills including engaging in hobbies you enjoy, exercise, spending time in nature and breathing exercises. These are uncertain times but remember that you’re not alone. Our new normal may feel abnormal but hope remains constant.