It's hard to believe that six months ago most of us had never even heard of the coronavirus. Now it affects almost every aspect of our lives. Who would have imagined needing to don a mask to go to the grocery store? Or, that students would leave school in mid-March and not return for the remainder of the school year? We have experienced incredible changes in our lives.
We have also experienced many losses. Some have lost loved ones, and to make matters worse, have lost the opportunity to comfort them as they were dying. Some have lost jobs and businesses. We have missed celebrating graduations, weddings, and holidays. Children and adolescents have missed school and extracurricular events such as school plays and sporting events We have gone months without meeting with our faith communities. The everyday losses also take their toll. We miss our routines: going to the office, to school, or the gym. We miss time alone. We miss being together, in real life, not just through technology. We miss human touch.
One of the most challenging parts of the pandemic has been the lack of a clear end point. It's like running a race without knowing whether it is for five, ten, or twenty miles. It makes it hard to pace ourselves. This lack of a clear time frame, coupled with the COVID-19 restrictions, may contribute to our feeling a lack of control over our lives. We may feel resentful and irritable.
It's important to recognize the changes in our lives and acknowledge our feelings. We need to show others and ourselves compassion. Maintaining connections with others can help us remain hopeful. Focusing on what we can control, and reminding ourselves of what we are grateful for, will help us cope. Ensuring we have adequate sleep, exercise, and a healthy diet is essential for our mental and physical health.
If you have having difficulty coping with the stress associated with the coronavirus, please speak to your physician. They may refer you to counseling or suggest other interventions.
Kathleen Fox, Ph.D.