Don’t think that it’s over

Some tips on how to use your time effectively during the pandemic of 2020

There are a lot of crazy things at work in the world right now. Many of us have either spent the last 3 + months working from home, being laid off, furloughed, or still going into work every day as an essential worker. I am usually the one to speak nothing short of the glass being half full even through some of the worst years of my life, but I must admit myself that year 2020 has been a real mess. There has been literally one thing after another over the past few months and things are still going on right now as I am typing this. These are difficult times in our world while not only dealing with a pandemic that is still unpredictable but also dealing with the recent issues in the news.

As a counselor, who has spent 100% of the last few months working from home, doing telehealth video and phone sessions with many clients it is clear to me that a lot of people are in real pain. I see over and over again the devastation that COVID-19 has brought to not only just essential workers whom I deeply respect for their efforts but also even people working and quarantining at home. This pandemic has had a major negative impact on many for multiple reasons. The health anxiety, having to feel stationary being stuck at home, worrying about family, friends, not being able to have that old routine you once had can send you on an emotional roller coaster. I myself have even found that being quarantined is a challenge and has its difficult moments.

I feel it is my duty as a clinician to empower and continue to impart skills, knowledge to my clients so that they are able to increase their positivity during such a challenging time. Don’t get me wrong many people during this time have used it to complete goals, reconnect with themselves, reconnect with others and have kept the glass half empty approach. However, many have not. So, I have a few general tips below that can help with those going through anxiety, depression and even trauma at this time in their lives.

1) Don’t try to avoid your thoughts, feelings or emotions, acknowledge them – while it is great to distract yourself with self – care, wellness, mindfulness and other things it is not good to continuously put your feelings off. I have learned over the years that sometimes avoiding emotions can do more harm than good. It is important to connect with your emotions and if need be have your moments where you are able to acknowledge your pain amongst yourself or share with a loved one. Journaling can be a powerful tool for getting your emotions out of your head and onto paper. Don’t be afraid to self-reflect and set time aside for yourself for you to do so.

2) Utilize your support system – this is a time to keep in contact with your family or friends or even reconnect. We are not promised tomorrow or today all we have is now. This could be a great opportunity to reconnect with a loved one and if need be, generate support for each other during these times. Sometimes spending 10 minutes out of your day to call, email, text, zoom or facetime your loved ones can help reduce anxiety and tension. It’s also good for just checking in and making sure everyone is doing well. The best thing about this is that it costs $0.00 to do.

3) Create a routine or itinerary for yourself – one of the most common things I have seen as a trend during this pandemic for many people is lack of self – motivation, becoming complacent or disorganization. Many people who I have spoken with who are working from home or have been laid off or furloughed have become apathetic and are lacking in direction or purpose. Because this situation is not normal, it has thrown off the balance in many people’s lives and they are not able to deal with all of the monotony in this abnormal shift in which they can create self – limiting beliefs. Being intentional about completing a goal, doing some self – care or working on a passion project can be hard to maintain with being distracted about the current conditions many of us are having to deal with. Sometimes refocusing requires us to dig deep and reach a place within ourselves that we may not think we have in us to do. I find in personal and professional experience that one way to self – motivate is to hold yourself to a higher standard and create a schedule for yourself. It doesn’t mean you will hit it out of the park 10/10 times all the time but at least having the prospect of having something to look forward to can help you in self – motivation.

4) Using coping skills and investing into your hobbies – this is still a great time to read that book you have been wanting, learn a new recipe, create a workout routine, start a new diet, binge watch a show you have been wanting to watch, working on a passion project of yours. We may never be in another situation like this again in our lifetime. This is the time to invest in your mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial well being more than ever. There are no guarantees in life, but we have to remain centered as much as we can and focus on the things we want to do and need to do for ourselves. Invest in yourself, time is precious.  

5) Seek professional help – If you feel like you have tried every coping skill and done everything in the book and nothing seems to be working, please reach out and seek counseling services. Counselors are trained to help you find new and effective ways to channel your frustrations, cope with anxiety, depression, trauma, and various other things. Don’t hesitate to seek the help you need as you deserve to have the peace of mind you want.

6) Don’t think that it’s over – It’s easy for some to believe that because after a few months to see that some states are opening up or beginning to open up that great we’re back to normal! Unfortunately, that is an illusion. COVID-19 has not lost its devastating presence in the world and we cannot afford to be naïve about it. I encourage on a professional level as well as personal level for us all to continue to take proper safety measures. I know we have all heard this a thousand times by now but I encourage you to continue to wear protective masks, social distance, having a good hand washing regimen and staying home more often if you can. I know it’s now officially summertime and some of us want to get out and start going everywhere due to being deprived and restricted, but the reality is we are dealing with a new normal and have to understand that things may never go back to being what they were 100% pre-pandemic. This pandemic is no joke and we should all still be treating it very seriously and not getting too comfortable. Please be careful out there!

 Best,Gianne Shah MS, LPC, NCCgianne@cfctherapy.com

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