Do you feel like you’ve lost control of your life or wonder why you have a hard time getting out of bed in the mornings, lately? Or, do you feel like you are going to lose your mind during this COVID-19 pandemic?
I sure have! I was not, at all, expecting this worldwide illness, and it caught me completely off guard.
If you have lost your job due to this latest coronavirus and had to stay home with or without anyone else, you must have felt off balance and wondering what the hell is happening or when all of this will end.
You are not alone.
I discovered it is normal to feel discombobulated, angry, sad, or even depressed. What has happened to the world is very traumatic. And trauma requires healing, and healing takes time – sometimes lots of it.
You might be one of the lucky people who did not lose their job and is able to work from home, you might be retired, or a stay-at-home mother who was not affected too much by the pandemic. You might be a person who is a first responder on the front lines (I have the utmost respect for you!). Or, you might be someone, like me, who lost their career and now has to “redo” herself. Wherever you are during this pandemic and whatever you are experiencing, know that it is normal to feel confused, afraid, and bewildered.
I actually had quit my corporate job to become a full-time writer ONE WEEK before the virus was designated very contagious. I was planning on taking some time off to recoup from my very stressful former job and then work on building my business. I did not expect a pandemic, the world shutting down, and my partner losing his job. None of that was part of the plan.
But, life happens.
My plan was to move on from my former job and career quickly (that did not happen – I had to rest and heal and get back on a schedule and lifestyle that supported my wellness physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that took much longer than anticipated). I was going to start my business in March (um, no, didn’t happen either). I was planning on living a great life that suited me until retirement, but then COVID happened.
Ugh. Can you relate to any of this?
Since the end of February, I have been sick with a virus twice, had to have a root canal, threw out my back (which put me out for three weeks in Apr – the pain was awful), had a horrible case of vertigo that came out of nowhere, and watched my savings fly out the window month after month. Life doesn’t always go as planned, does it? Sometimes, no matter what you do or how impeccable you think your plans are, life happens and throws you for a loop. It happens to all of us, sooner or later.
In addition to all of this, I have not been able to write. Until recently, my mind has been in some state of “foggy disillusionment,” for lack of better words. What kind of business was I going to have if I couldn’t write, when writing is THE BUSINESS? Yikes. I was not in a good place.
But, I finally snapped out of my funk.
To be honest, I am not sure exactly how I did it. Nothing big happened. I think I finally realized that the world is experiencing something unprecedented and decided to be kind to myself and lower my expectations. Once I did that, I learned the next four lessons that stopped me from feeling like I was losing my mind:
I acknowledged that it is normal to feel confused and angry. You can too.
What is now happening to the world is shocking. It is unexpected, hit us like a brick really, and no one knows when it will all end, or if we are ever going back to “normal.” The ramifications of this on the human psyche are nothing less than traumatic. One of the definitions of the word trauma is “an experience that produces psychological injury or pain.” So, it is normal to feel shocked, fearful, and like you are losing control of your life. It takes time to heal from trauma.
The solution is to be gentle with yourself. Know that you are not alone. Know that so many other people are feeling what you are feeling. Know that this too shall pass, and that life will get back to normal. It is okay to feel your emotions: feel your anger or your sadness, but don’t stay in that space for long. Feel it, talk about it with someone, scream if you have to, and then move on.
I established a new routine and stuck with it. You can, too.
I can’t tell you how much this has helped me! Whatever your routine was prior to the pandemic, most likely it does not exist anymore. The human body and mind works best with a routine for physical, emotional, and mental wellness. A lack of routine is a recipe for disaster.
The solution is to establish a routine during these troubling times: get up at the same time every morning, eat well and exercise, set time aside to do what you do, whether work or something else you love, and go to bed at the same time every night. A routine will help you to cope with the uncertainty in this world right now. This lesson alone helped me tremendously.
I decided to do something that I love to do every day. You can, too.
This may seem obvious, but when human beings are thrown off balance, we don’t always realize that doing what we love will bring about momentum and get us out of our self-imposed funk. You have been given a throat punch from COVID-19. Punch it back.
The solution is to be good to yourself by doing something creative that you love or learn something new. I have reorganized my craft room, and am now in the process of reorganizing my garage (both were a horrific mess). The reorganization gave my brain a time out from worry, fear, and confusion, and helped get my creative mind working again, so I could write again and plan a new career. Being creative always helps heal your mind from trauma. Punch back COVID-19 by being good to yourself, even if it is only for a half hour per day. Just start and don’t wait until you are motivated. The motivation will appear after you begin.
I chose to reach out to other people. You can, too.
This one is obvious to extroverts, so I am writing to the introverts here. If you are introverted like I am, reaching out to others might be the last thought you have during this worldwide crisis. I empathize. But, even the most introverted person needs human companionship, once in a while.
The solution is to communicate with at least one other person every day. It does not matter what method of communication you use: phone, IM, chat, email, Skype or Zoom, or in person (safely). What matters is reaching out to someone else who is also going through the same feelings, thoughts, worry, stress, or sadness. It will help you handle this unexpected life of isolation better, give you hope, and remind you that you are not alone. If you live alone, especially, it is vital to reach out.
We are all in this together. Despite all the layoffs and furloughs, massive unemployment, fear, sadness, discouragement, uncertainty, and anxiety, you are still able to have some control over your life. You get to choose how you will take care of your mind, body, and emotions through these unpredictable times. You get to choose whether to live in disappointment or to live in acceptance and creativity during COVID-19.
Here’s to taking good care of yourself and to hoping for a better, new normal in the near future.