- Dr. Cecilia Marin
Uncertainty during Covid-19
Years ago, while sitting at the edge of our seat, we voluntarily watched outbreak and contagion. Once the movie was over, the “What if” hypothetical lengthy dialogues always followed. The dialogues left you believing how such things could occur. However, you kept reminding the other part of yourself that “It was just a movie.” At the end of the day, you thought, “That could never happen.” Yet, here we are today. Nothing much has changed, right? We continue to watch the same movies, engage in similar hypothetical dialogues, with the difference being… We realize that so many details were left out of those movies. The details we are currently living through, our reality. Our fear not only encompasses getting infected, but we also fear losing our job, our businesses, paying bills, rent, mortgages, social distancing, and mental health issues. We also worry about our children, their thoughts and feelings, and wonder if these months of social isolation will be particularly traumatic for them? Will it affect them? What about all those beginnings that were promised to have an incredible, unremarkable and memorable ending. Like pre-k, kindergarten graduations? Senior prom, grad nights, and senior graduation? College graduations? Every event that symbolizes the completion of hard work and determination will have to be bypassed.
Does this all sound familiar? Do these thoughts parallel with yours? Well, I’m here to offer you some insight and guidance from one person that has never been through it either, but may offer a different perspective to get you through this with more positive thoughts.
The truth is, most of us have never experienced changes like the one’s we have been forced to acclimate to. Another piece of truth is, the world is a scary place right now, and the uncertainty of it all adds fear, anxiety, sadness, depression, helplessness and hopelessness for some.
It’s a difficult time for everyone, all these changes either create or ignite our stressors. We might be working from home, or not working at all. We’ve all felt the financial hit. Hang in there, it will get better.
I know, it’s easier said than done. I know some do not know how they will manage their tomorrows. Have you ever heard the saying, “ We are in this together?” Well, for the first time this is actually the case. Everyone from celebrities like Tom Hanks and his wife, to the Prince Charles, to your neighbor have been diagnosed with Covid-19. There simply is no dollar amount that serves as a virus repellant. So, for the first time, we can actually find solace in knowing we are all probably feeling THE same way.
I’ve been asked by many patients what my thoughts are on this situation, and when is it going to end? I’ve always answered truthfully... “I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone really knows.” But, I would rather focus on questions and thoughts that are positive, but most importantly focus on things we can control. Fortunately, these moments offer us perspective. We may come to realize the roles we must now play, the “persona” we now allow the world to see, and the personal, and professional reinventions we must make. Find the part(s) you like or possibly even love from your “new temporary normal.” Whatever they are, enjoy them, perfect them, and embrace them.
Trying times, Although difficult, have the capacity of grounding us and bringing purpose and fulfillment to our lives. This is the path we CAN Control. Of course, feelings of sadness, depression and anxiety will arise- THAT’S NORMAL! but instead of fighting off these feelings, and distracting yourself with anything to avoid such feelings is actually counterproductive. Confront your feelings, identify where these feelings manifest in your body, understand your triggers, and ask yourself what you think the worst possible outcome will be. This will allow you to learn how the brain “Catastrophizes” when one feels stuck. This technique encourages a different perspective, and provides a healthier resolution to the original catastrophic thought- Making you feel more in control and happier.
Here are some suggestions that might assist you through these difficult times.
Focus on short-term goals, daily goals.
Limit your tv time, especially the news, but stay informed
Start writing (I.e., a journal, a book, a blog etc) we will get through this, and how cool will it be to document everything we did throughout this time. Remember, we will be part of history books in the future
Read interesting books
Go out for walk
Do mindful activities (I.e., go out and sit on your lawn, or lay on a towel- close your eyes and listen to the noise around you... what do hear? What do you feel? What do you smell? And how does it feel?)
Play with your animals, throw them a ball
Workout, Jump on your child’s trampoline
Start and finish a puzzle
Finish house projects
Organize your place
Listen to music, have a dance party
Have happy hour with your friends (via zoom or another platform)
Plant a tree! It will signify your struggles but most important it will always represent strength and growth.
Preserve your mental health. If you have a therapist, continue with your sessions. Keeping things as they were before is extremely important. During these times, uncertainty is at its finest- so make sure you’re consistent with appointments that were previously in place.