Within a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes to our lives and world. Here’s how to replace feelings of anxiety and depression with peace and hope.
COVID-19 has drastically affected the lives of nearly everyone. Almost all of us have experienced significant disruptions and changes in our lives. School and business closures, shopping disruptions, lockdowns, and social distancing with no definite “return to normal” date is a type of crisis that most of us have never experienced in our lifetimes. To say it doesn’t feel good would be an understatement.
While the world may feel dark and scary, there are still ways to enjoy this time with peace, hope, and even gratitude. It’s important to realize that it won’t last forever and that we truly are in this together.
Realize that you still have control.
The current state of the world can cause feelings of anxiety, especially if you focus on the things that you cannot control. So, it’s essential to recognize the things that you CAN control. You can control your thoughts, actions, and how you take care of yourself. Journaling your feelings can be extremely helpful. You can release your worries on paper, but counter them with positive thoughts. Here’s an example:
I’m afraid I’m going to get sick (negative thinking)
I’m doing my best to stay healthy (positive thinking)
I can’t go to the places that I want to (negative thinking)
I have more time to do things like reading a book, starting a new TV series, and taking long walks (positive thinking)
I can’t meet up with my friends and some of my family (negative thinking)
I can connect with my family and friends by writing letters, sending emails and texts, and making phone calls (positive thinking)
It’s likely that you also have more free time than you might typically have. You can control how you spend this time. It can feel good making a list of things that you would like to get done before life returns to normal. The list can be an excellent way to stay focused on the things that you can control.
Stay connected with others.
By nature, we’re social beings. We naturally seek the companionship of others, which can make social distancing extremely hard – for both kids and adults. It’s essential to stay connected to the people you’re used to seeing regularly. Although you may not be able to see them in person, there are plenty of other ways to stay connected, including social media, phone calls, and video conferencing. Both Zoom and Google’s Hangouts Meet offer free services. Having consistent and scheduled calls can help give you something to look forward to and keep you connected with the people in your life.
Along with connecting with others, it’s important not to judge others. Everyone is going through this crisis together, and each person will respond differently. You can disengage with negative connections but do so with kindness. For example, if you have a friend or family member who continually talks about things that bring you down, you can ask that person if you can talk about something else since you’re trying to keep a positive mindset. If they refuse, then you can kindly let them know that you empathize with how they’re feeling, but you can’t continue speaking with them if they’re unwilling to talk about something else.
Stay balanced and take care of yourself.
It’s essential to make sure that you’re taking care of yourself. Taking control of the areas in your life that you can and staying connected with others are important. But there are other ways that you can take care of yourself too. Try to stay balanced and not overly stressed. When you feel yourself getting stressed, take a moment to try to relax such as, take a walk, meditate, enjoy a hot bath, or practice relaxing breathing techniques. Try to avoid obsessing over the things that you cannot control, and that may bring you down. For example, if the news or social media makes you feel more stressed, then limit your time on them. Minimizing stress as much as you can is a good way to also keep your immune system strong and healthy.
In closing, remember, you’re not in this alone. Show kindness to yourself and others. Do the things and think the thoughts that make you smile. And, if despite your best efforts, you can’t stop feeling anxious or depressed, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. Many therapists, including myself, are available remotely and would be happy to help. Above all, always remember there is hope and, this too shall pass.
About the Author:
Danielle Matthew is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who helps adolescents, adults, couples, and families who are in pain due to issues such as anxiety, severe stress, low self-esteem, or depression. With over 20 years of experience, Danielle authored Amazon Parenting Best-Seller, The Empowered Child: How to Help Your Child Cope, Communicate, and Conquer Bullying, and is the Director of The Empowerment Space Bullying Therapy Program in Los Angeles. Featured in Huffington Post and TODAY.com, Danielle has appeared on Fox, ABC, and CBS Morning Shows and Mom Talk Radio, and is the expert contributor to Washington Post’s article: “Kids love to ‘roast’ each other. But when does good-natured teasing become bullying?