In a Time of Uncertainty, Here is How You Can Get Past the Coronavirus Slump
Its an odd time for all of us so here are some tips to help you make the best of your “new normal.”
If you are a goal planner like me, you usually start the year off listing what you want to accomplish and experience some level of excitement of what the new year has to bring. But as we were making New Year’s Resolutions and celebrating the end of 2019, little did we know that the new age Roaring Twenties was currently brewing a deadly virus that would transform our everyday lives overnight.
For me, today is day 42 of the “new normal.” In the beginning of the pandemic, like the rest of the world, it was hard for me to comprehend what was happening and it led to sleepless nights and two panic attacks. The week that social distancing started for New York and New Jersey I did in fact get sick and had a fever in addition to my breathing not being normal. All the symptoms, negative flu tests and working in the epicenter of the virus in the US, led to me believing I had coronavirus, but of course I was denied a test from the urgent care center. With reports saying that there is a high possibility of immunity after overcoming the virus, it definitely eased my anxiety over the situation and I hope in the near future our country has the amount of tests it needs for us to go back to the lives we knew.
Everyday it seems like the news is contradicting itself and it’s hard to tell when social distancing guidelines will be loosened and what that would even consist of. If we do not know how long this “new normal” will last, we need to try our best to not let the situation deteriorate our mental health, even though that is easier said than done. Depending on your circumstances, you might be using this time to launch new projects and accomplish things you never had time for. Or you could simply be trying to get through the day and that is completely ok as well. It’s easy and normal to feel down during this time and everyone is being affected by the pandemic differently. I hope the tips below can help you regardless of your situation because I know it has changed my outlook and mood drastically and I hope it can do the same for you!
Tips On Handling This Pandemic:
- Check in on your mental health. Looking at how situations affect our mood and just checking in on our mental health is something we should strive to do more often. If you can assess how the pandemic is making you feel then it will be easier to find the next necessary steps to get you through this. If you are feeling more positive or determined maybe this is the time to take on a new hobby. But if you notice your mental health declining maybe your next steps are online therapy or a social media cleanse. Talkspace, the online therapy company, gives different options to connect with a therapist (all within social distance guidelines) and is offering a promotion of $65 off right now!
- Start to Journal. Every time I read an article or listen to a podcast featuring a therapist they seem to always mention the importance of journaling. It might be hard to commit to journaling every day but journaling can help you figure out your emotions and needs and also surprisingly bring calm to a crowded headspace. You can even take this time and access things you’d like to change for the future. Maybe the pandemic is helping you realize that you want to live in a different city or closer to family.
- Remember that it is ok to not be motivated and feel out of it now. As previously mentioned, the pandemic has affected everyone differently and some have had to go through the heartbreak of losing a loved one and/or losing a job. Even if you are blessed to not have gone through those situations at this time, it’s ok to feel down because the people around you have. It’s also ok to have your mood affected by a situation that is causing so much uncertainty in your daily life. It is not a great time for the world in general and you are human and are allowed to have your emotions and mood affected by this situation.
- Reduce your news intake as well as your time on social media. Try to find the balance of being informed but not overwhelmed by the news. I have two daily newsletters I read in the morning and only allow myself to check the news once in the morning and once at night in order to stay up to date without letting the news consume my mood for the entire day. Figure out the perfect balance for you. This also goes for social media, which seems to be mostly about coronavirus and might bring you down. Instead, maybe learn a dance from TikTok or watch a funny YouTube clip instead of engaging in twitter debates or looking at models posting glam shots from their home on Instagram.
- Create a new routine that works for you and stick to it. This seems so simple but it actually was probably the number one thing that has helped me accept this new (temporary) reality. I took the time to physically write down what my new schedule should look like. This included everything from morning workouts, lunch breaks and afternoon walks. Make it as detailed as you would like and whatever works best for you. It takes us 30 days typically to form a habit so make sure you stick to your new routine as much as possible.
- Choose activities that will help you fill the time. The amount of down time varies for us. If you are an essential worker, your down time might remain the same. Use your time off the clock to watch a funny series or something that can take your mind off of the current situation, you deserve it! For those who have more time than usual and are feeling up to it, maybe try a new hobby! Think about something you always wanted to do like try new recipes, ride your bike more, start painting or even set aside time for current hobbies you don’t get to do as often. Make sure whatever you choose is something that helps you escape in a positive way.
- Take an online course. I promise this does not have to be boring but there are many websites that offer free online courses! This could be learning a new software, new business techniques, a language or something that just sounds fun. I am enrolled to take Yale University’s “The Science of Well-Being” on Coursea, which has endless course selections!
- See if the activities you usually enjoy are being offered online. As the whole world has to adapt it seems like our usual events have turned to offering the same experience virtually. If you usually do a book club maybe suggest a virtual meetup instead. Join meetup and see what virtual hangouts are offered or maybe even find virtual events on facebook. Your favorite DJ or singer is probably entertaining on Instagram Live. Your gym or even favorite fitness YouTuber is probably offering a chance to workout together online. Billboard is constantly updating us on virtual concerts and museums have found a way for us to see exhibits from our home. Check local news to also see if there are events being offered to help your community or local businesses. I usually try to attend Jersey City’s Midnight Market food festival and they have found a way to bring the community together and also allow residents to help local restaurants in a time of need.
- Practice gratitude and mindfulness. My goal personally this year was to be more present and mindful and boy has corona helped me speed up my process of achieving this! I have been committed to practicing meditation through Headspace and meditating for 10 minutes in the morning to start the day. There are apps like Headspace and Calm but also you can find videos on YouTube to help you get started. Something I have also been doing daily is to find a way to still be grateful during this time. Again, I know this is easier said than done but no matter how bad the situation, it could always be worse. In April 2018 I took a trip to China and I am incredibly grateful for the experience but also that I did not book that trip this year. In March 2019 I was unemployed and my aunt was going through chemotherapy. Words cannot describe how grateful that a year later during this pandemic I am blessed to be employed at a job that is a better fit for me and that my aunt does not have to take visits to a hospital, which would leave her vulnerable to coronavirus because pre-existing health conditions. Reminding myself where I was this time during the last couple of years really puts into perspective that the timing could easily have been worse.
- Keep in touch with loved ones and friends. Some days we might want to be alone and not speak to anyone. But we should remember that we will get through this together and no one has to be alone right now. Remember to check on your family regularly, especially your elders, and also chat with your friends as you normally would. Maybe play online games or apps like House Party once a week with your friend group or schedule a FaceTime brunch with a relative. Checking in on the people close to you (or maybe just acquaintances) can go a long way right now.
- Keep in mind of something to look forward to each day. This is also something that has helped me a lot when days seem to all blur together. Since I cannot look forward to going to a club or a new restaurant, I try to give myself one thing to look forward to each day to keep me motivated to get through the day. This could be anything from binging a new show, calling my aunt, trying a new hairstyle, playing a House Party game with friends or finally learning how to bake brownie cookie bars. The small things will really go a long way now.
- Remember this is temporary and will pass. With all the uncertainty it might feel like there is no end in sight, but we know deep down there is. We are not going to spend the rest of our lives or even the rest of the year in quarantine. The situation is unfortunate but just like everything in life, this too shall pass. This is temporary, we will get through this. This is not how we will live our lives forever.
Tips for Working From Home During the Coronavirus Pandemic:
- Get Dressed. Do not stay in pajamas all day. If you are at home all day you might not see the point of taking the time to get dressed and put on real clothes. However, doing this will help you get into your routine like you are actually going to work and you won’t feel like a bum all day. It will get you feeling more motivated to do work if you are dressed. I am not saying you have to put on jeans and a nice shirt. Even a t-shirt and sweatpants is fine. If you have video conference calls or work in a more professional field then maybe you should consider how you would like to present yourself to your team while working from home.
- Determine a workspace. If you are fortunate enough, I would do my best to make one room or area your workspace so it is easier to separate your personal and work life. If you do all your work in your bed it might be hard to separate your work tasks and personal tasks. You want to keep your bedroom as an area for you to relax and unwind from work as much as possible.
- Take a lunch break like you normally would or take advantage of having a lunch break! Some of you may have incredibly demanding jobs that do not allow you to leave your desk for lunch. So if you have more time now at home I would take advantage of this! Watch a half hour show while eating in the kitchen or on the couch and take an actual lunch break from your workspace if you can. If you usually take a lunch break in the office then working at home should be no different!
- Stick to designated work hours. Just because you are working from home it doesn’t mean you should make yourself available to your job 24/7. If you are unplugged from your email outside of your time in the office, again working from home should not change this. I understand some roles require out of office hours but it should be just as reasonable as it would be working in the office.
- Continue to socialize with coworkers virtually like on Slack or GChat. Just because we don’t see our work buddies doesn’t mean we shouldn’t catch up with them as we usually do. If you usually chat with your work bestie before that 11am Monday meeting you should Slack or chat them working from home. Work friends help us get through the work day and they should continue to help us get through our work from home days as well.
I hope this was helpful and if you want to hear more on these tips and topics you can check out the latest episode of The So Called Oreos podcast!