The COVID-19 global pandemic has disrupted our daily lives and ways of being in ways that are unprecedented.
Our normal way of living has shifted quite suddenly and it’s understandable if you are struggling with this adjustment.
It’s difficult to stay home, but by physically distancing ourselves from others in the community, we are helping slow the advance of this deadly virus and supporting our health care system.
By staying home, we are coming together to act in the best interest of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.
Isolation and change in our regular routines may have some effect upon our mental health, so let’s break down some of the things you might be experiencing and some coping strategies.
It’s going to creep in if it hasn’t already. We often try to avoid it because that’s when some of our more complex feelings can surface, but it can bring a deeper awareness to the parts of ourselves that need attention.
Try to use this as an opportunity to cultivate new hobbies and interests, finish projects around the house, binge watch Netflix without guilt, or experiment with new recipes (granted you can find your ingredients).
You may be experiencing a lot of stress right now, so avoid putting pressure on yourself to become fluent in a second language or achieve your peak of fitness.
Physical distancing does not have to mean loss of social connection, especially with the modern technologies we have access to.
Connecting with our friends and family, whether by video chats, phone calls or texting can help us maintain ties to help us through this.
It can be helpful to remind yourself that even though you may feel alone, this is a collective experience, and people are joining together to combat loneliness through things such as online book clubs and dance parties (check out dnice or Questlove on Instagram TV).
Through all of this we have been able to witness some of the best parts of the human condition, and one of the best ways to combat loneliness can be showing up for others.
Being stuck indoors, particularly if the weather is bad, can lead to feelings of lethargy, low energy and sadness.
If you are feeling down, don’t judge yourself.
It’s normal to experience what we call a “situational depression” through this so take things day by day and remind yourself that your feelings are temporary, and this situation will pass.
If you find your feelings of depression are significantly interfering with your life and ability to function for a period of two weeks or longer, seek help from a counsellor or a medical professional (many are offering services online).
It is okay to find ways to bring yourself joy in the midst of all this illness and chaos, but it’s also understandable if that’s going to be really hard sometimes.
To deal with depression, try moving your body. Do what you can handle. Go for a (socially distant) walk or a bike ride. Set an alarm for every 60 minutes and do 10 reps of squats or sit ups.
Journal your feelings. Pay attention to your thoughts. Are they harmful or helpful? Connect with others.
It’s been shown that social connection and a sense of belonging are actually antidotes to depression.
Also, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, understand that you may not have the emotional resilience to hold space for others in that moment, and that’s okay.
This is an opportunity to take care of ourselves and each other. Remind yourself of what and who you are grateful for. And let’s stay connected. From a distance.
Written by Kerry Anne.
Kerry Anne is a Registered Clinical Counsellor and Canadian Certified Counsellor and loves to work with students in her role as the Health and Wellness Counsellor.
I’m here to offer students support, a fresh perspective and guidance in times of stress or difficulty. When I’m not working I love travelling, keeping active, hanging out with friends and family and finding the spiciest food in Vancouver and abroad.