The COVID-19 pandemic has caused massive illness, deaths, and, of course, changes to how we live. There are not many people who have not been affected by it. And while the restrictive measures may be effective to lower rates of transmission, they also come with consequences. Isolation can be dangerous for most people’s mental health. So it’s important we find ways to cope with the pandemic restrictions, without causing too much damage to mental wellbeing.
Today, we’re going to share five general tips for coping with the pandemic restrictions. We’ve tried to keep these as broad as possible, bearing in mind that restrictions and allowances vary based on where you are in the world.
Here Are Five Quick Tips to Help You Cope with Pandemic Restrictions
Use virtual tools to stay in touch with friends and family.
Social distancing does not have to mean complete isolation. It is easy to equate social distance measures with total isolation. But there are ways to socially distance and not be totally isolated and disconnected. The fortunate thing about the pandemic beginning in 2020 is the abundance of digital tools and resources at our disposal that can keep us connect. It is just a matter of being conscious of which tools best serve your needs at this time.
Here are a few ideas of how people are staying connected using digital resources:
- Virtual parties and meet-ups (using platforms like Zoom). Do you have an upcoming birthday, anniversary, or baby shower? Just because you cannot meet in person doesn’t mean you have to miss the event entirely. You can now host many events online. Of course, they cannot completely replace the intimacy of in-person occasions, but they are still a way to gather, interact, and not feel like you are missing out on special events.
- Social media ‘live’ events (using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, etc.). Scheduled and spontaneous social media live events are another option for gathering and interacting with friends, family, and whoever you choose. These platforms have seen a surge of virtual meet-ups and parties, which allow people to interact and enjoy each other’s company from their homes.
The key is to think about connection and keep that at the forefront of your mind. You want to remain connected as much as it feels healthful for you. Use communication technology wisely and to your advantage. During this unfortunate time, we have to use every tool available to us to ease the stress and radical consequences of the drastic pandemic lifestyle restricitons.
2. Put your new-found extra time to good use
Who has extra time? Very few of us. Between work, persona,l and social obligations, time is limited. The result is we find ourselves with hopes and dreams that rarely get realized. They typically remain out of reach because we just don’t have the time to get to them. With many of our regular outdoor and social activities now restricted, it gives some of us a lot of time back. One positive aspect of the pandemic restrictions is that we’ve been gifted time. And time, after all, is the most precious commodity there is. Well, what can we do with that time?
Here are a few examples:
What about that book you’ve always wanted to write?
Time to finally start that side hustle?
Can you dig up those crafting supplies stashed in the attic?
Think about personal and professional projects you’ve been delaying due to time constraints. You may now have the time to tackle these projects.
Control what you can; let go of worrying over everything else.
One of the most difficult things we’ve had to deal with during this pandemic is lack of control. Suddenly, we need permission to do many things we could freely do before (for example, traveling). Some things we cannot do at all (for example, in-person education).
The healthiest thing we can do for our mental health in this regard is to accept what is not within our control. When we refuse to accept these things, we spend an abundance of time and energy complaining about the restrictions and lamenting over our previous way of free-living. In doing so, we make the entire situation harder to endure. Use your energy wisely. Control what you can control and let go of all else.
4. Take breaks from the news and mainstream media.
If the Covid death toll is fresh in your mind, you are probably watching too much news, whether online or on television. It is one thing to stay informed, it is another to spend hours consuming news story after story. The danger in doing so is it can negatively affect your mental health. Even the Centers for Disease Control state that news about COVID-19 increases stress levels.
Don’t overconsume the news, especially if it is causing you more stress, affecting your relationships, or sleep. It is important to stay informed, but now more than ever, it is vital we all find balance.
5. Access mental health services if you need them
“As many in-person mental health support services have been suspended or transitioned online to facilitate physical distancing, there have been numerous calls for the rapid expansion of asynchronous virtual mental health (AVMH) resources. “
One positive thing that has arisen from the pandemic is that virtual mental health services are now widely accessible in many countries. If you are in need of mental health services and cannot access standard in-person services, you’re encouraged to access virtual services. Here’s a link to a list of global mental health resources: https://checkpointorg.com/global/.
There is no denying the pandemic has devastated millions of people’s health, finances, and quality of life. But one of the ways we can navigate this difficult time is to alter our perspective. To search for the glimpses of brightness in this dark time. To reframe what seems entirely negative into some positives. Everything is about perspective.
Use the tools, resources, and time available to you to prioritize self-care and shift your focus from what you cannot do to what you can do. And most of all, be kind to yourself and others.