People’s emotional reactions to the current pandemic range from extreme emotional distress to extreme resiliency. Some people feel they are managing the pandemic well and say “I’m fine!” or “I’m getting along” when asked how they’re doing. While this may be true, that does not mean you’re not experiencing some typical emotional reactions and changes to the current situation. Below are some common experiences people have in times of stress.
Having difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, and/or waking up too early is a common response to stress. As we change our daily schedules (or don’t have a regular schedule anymore), our bodies react and our sleep schedule changes as well. For some effective sleep hygiene tips, click here!
I’m not getting enough done.
When NY went on PAUSE, everyone felt that they would have more time during the day! There were viral memes about Shakespeare writing a play while quarantined, and it seemed like everyone was baking, zooming, and picking up new hobbies. At the same time, so many are finding that they’re actually taking on more responsibility, and that “extra time” has vanished into the endless cycle of cooking, cleaning, working, and taking care of our physical and emotional well-being. Plus, we are constantly being inundated with news about what’s going on. It’s more than okay to just get through the day right now- that’s a big accomplishment! Be forgiving of what you are and are not able to achieve.
During times of stress, it’s totally normal to have difficulty concentrating. Our mind has to focus on a lot of other things it doesn’t normally need to focus on. Plus, we also always monitoring the pandemic in the background. We’re often asking ourselves, “Did I wash my hands?” “Why did she cough?” or “Did he come too close to me?” As a result, a lot of people are having trouble concentrating on tasks that used to be easy. It’s hard to live through history. Give yourself a break. If you want to improve your focus, try breaking tasks into small chunks and working on achieving one of those. Instead of sitting down to read for an hour, try doing it for ten minutes. If that works, great! If not, that’s okay too!
Have you found yourself yelling more at a loved one? Are you getting easily annoyed by little things? That makes total sense with what’s going on. We don’t have as many mental resources when we’re facing such a big change to our normal lives. We may be frustrated or upset easily. Try to engage in some self-care, it may just help you feel a little less on edge.
Keeping perspective and feeling grateful for what’s going right in your life is a great coping mechanism. Recognizing the positive in your life is helpful. You may still have your health and/or your job, and remembering that can help you keep perspective. At the same time, it is important to know that you can feel grateful and simultaneously feel sad or overwhelmed. You don’t have to feel guilty that you are struggling during this pandemic even if others have it worse than you.
Ways to cope!
While you may be doing okay, it’s okay to need a little help as well! Below are some helpful tips to help you cope. You can also reach out to a mental health professional if you think you need more support.