Weathering the Pandemic: Discover Practical Ways to Return to Everyday Routines
Are you feeling like you are co-starring alongside the actors of the movie Groundhog Day thanks to the monotony the pandemic has created? You are not alone.
In a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) Tracking Poll conducted last summer, 53% of adults in the U.S. reported that their mental health had been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus. This figure is significantly higher than the 32% reported initially in March, early on in the pandemic when the question was included in KFF polling.
For many people, the dichotomy of quarantine safety to slow the spread of COVID-19, which also inadvertently contributes to isolation and depression, can be difficult to weather. This conflict can leave individuals wishing there was a way to return to our pre-pandemic way of life.
Monarch Community Support Team Leader Jennifer Hundt, LCSWA, recommended the following steps to improve your mental health and feel as though you are working your way back to a familiar routine.
Control what you can and let go of what you can’t control.
Hundt said she realizes it’s easy for people to try and control everything when life seems out of control. She suggested to instead, pause and write down what truly is and is not in your control.
“Think about what you can control like wearing a mask, washing your hands and controlling social distancing when in public,” Hundt explained, adding that it takes that physical activity of journaling your thoughts that can help a person visualize what’s in their control to decrease stress and anxiety.
Maintain your self-care regimen.
Hundt noted that prior to the pandemic, self-care may have included plans like massages, hair appointments, sporting events or time at the gym. Self-care doesn’t have to be outside the house, expensive or involve a lot of time. It can be done at home.
She suggested coordinating your own spa experience with a great soap you enjoy for your shower or bath, do your nails or hair at home, watch sports on television or find an exercise video you enjoy. YouTube offers many free resources for meditating, cooking and other hobbies.
She also recommended being intentional about your self-care. “A two-minute devotional, seven-minute workout or five-minute meditation is all it takes to get started,” she noted.
Remember that self-care is not selfish. “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Self-care is beneficial to do all you need to do for someone else,” Hundt reminded.
Focus on the present and speak positively.
Set a positive intention for the day. “When you wake up in the morning, pause and say, ‘Today is going to be a good day,’” she offered.
The energy you put out is often what you experience, whether negative or positive, Hundt explained: “If you put out that it’s going to be a great day, even if you don’t feel it, that repetition will help solidify it in our minds and we’ll start looking for evidence that it’s going to be a great day.”
Mindfulness and being present in the moment, can be done any time. During the day, get in the habit of putting your phone down, eating lunch away from your desk and truly connecting with whoever is physically with you or on the other side of the computer screen.
Find ways to connect with people.
Hundt said there are many ways to get together and still maintain social distancing such as meeting friends, family or neighbors outdoors for a meal or a game.
Worship centers have virtual services and other events during the week so that you can connect with people of your faith. If you love to cook, find a virtual cooking class to find people who have similar interests and to build connections.
Recognize when you can’t do it alone.
Everyone has been affected by this pandemic in some way. Sometimes our feelings can become bigger than we can handle alone. “We all need to recognize it’s ok to seek help. You may require additional support to get through this,” Hundt explained.
Monarch offers telehealth services where you can connect with a health care provider via smart phone, laptop or table. “Sometimes, we don’t know our feelings are out of balance until we speak to someone who can help give us another perspective or reflect how we’re feeling. We aren’t alone. There are people who can help,” she said.
For more information about mental health services or to make an appointment, call (866) 272-7826.