It’s the beginning of May and so far 2020 has been a lot to deal with. We are beginning week 8 of the Shelter-in-Place order in Illinois, and for many, the novelty is wearing thin outside of the understandable health and economic concerns. The good news is that the social distancing and shelter in place efforts are working and we have generally managed to avoid significant infection and overloading our health care system. The bad news is it doesn’t look like anything is changing in the near future.
It may feel like your ability to cope with the current status quo is a bit more fragile than you expected. You are certainly not alone – no one was prepared for our societal response to the coronavirus: one where for most of us doing everything we can, means not doing anything at all. But how do you make it through the next few months of sheltering in place?
1. Cut yourself a break and focus on what is important to you at this moment.
Our world is not the same as it was 2 months ago. We have collectively lost our naivety and in many ways have to focus on issues related more to survival rather than the fulfillment of our talents and potentials. So sometimes you just need to stop trying to be the “best you can be” and just be. Right now our basic sense of safety and security has been threatened at a minimum and, for some, shattered. Every one of us needs to allow ourselves the opportunity to tend to and shore up our basic efforts to meet our personal security and safety needs which include food, shelter, and protection from harm.
2. Maintain a Routine.
It is easy to slip out of routine these days. But maintaining some structure is good and will actually help you cope with the isolation and anxiety that has come with the coronavirus. Basic routines create a sense of security and stability for us. In many ways, personal routines help us cope with a world that is not predictable. It’s important to be realistic in your routine though – this isn’t about making you “the best you can be” instead it’s about creating a routine where you are building a sense of predictability and understanding in your day.
3. Get some fresh air at least once a day.
It’s easy to forget to go outside. Chicago’s spring can be cold and grey – and there is a virus outside – but still, you need to get outside of your home a little bit more days than not. Wear a mask. Connect with the world around you (from a safe distance) and feel the air….and maybe SUN…on your skin.
4. Reach out and connect with others.
No, we can’t be social as we’re used to – but we can still socialize and connect with others. Schedule virtual dates, family reunions, happy hours, and game nights through video calling platforms. Make a care package for your friends and drop them off at their front door. Exploit the social tools of your favorite app to connect with new people who share your interests. Sheltering in place oddly removes the geographic boundaries that might have acted as a barrier a few months ago.
5. Goals for 2022.
Imagine 2 years from now. We don’t know how long severe personal and societal responses (like social distancing, limited travel, no restaurants, wearing masks outside) to the coronavirus will last, so there is no actual end date. But almost all scenarios have 18 months as a reasonable time to expect a vaccine. So imagine some goals for two years out. Planning for and working towards your future goal will allow you a needed respite from the daily drudgery of the sheltering in place existence. But first and foremost, be kind and patient with yourself (see item No. 1).
This is a truly stressful and uncertain time. For most of us, some days are easier than others. Even if your day seems remarkably unchanged, it is almost impossible not to be impacted by the health and economic hardships experienced by the community. Although you might want to simply ignore the coronavirus that won’t make it go away or the current time less stressful. Today, all most of us can do is do our best to care for ourselves physically and emotionally every day.
Despite your best efforts, the stress of today might feel overwhelming – you are not broken you are simply having a difficult time coping with a difficult and unprecedented situation.
PeoplePsych therapists are currently accepting new clients. Through the duration of the Illinois “Shelter in Place” order, we are using doxy.me, a private and secure HIPAA compliant video call platform, to bring our therapy services to our client’s homes. Therapy (even teletherapy) can help, find out more about any of our therapists or our services by contacting our clinical coordinator Ana Poulos today.