The novel COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a shift in our global sense of security and our experience of vulnerability. Understandably, we are all experiencing worry, sadness, frustration and everything in between. The following article will provide 4 methods to manage one’s emotional experience as we transition into these daily lifestyle changes and attempt to create a new normal.
Validate your emotional experience. This is hard and it is ok to admit you are scared, worried, sad. You may also feel angry, panicked, and hopeless. You may also find a sense of relief or acceptance about a loss of control, this shared experience of anxiety, or a pause in the frenzy that drives our everyday life. It is likely that you will experience all of these emotions, sometimes at the same time. This is all normal, even if it seems contradictory. Instead of trying to push down your emotional experience and deny it, name it, and validate it. This will allow you the opportunity to then consider ways to soothe these emotions.
You can validate your emotions by having frank discussions about how you feel with trusted friends or family. You can also validate your emotions through journal writing. It is an effective, personal method to name what you are feeling and why. If you do choose to journal, consider capping it to 10-15 minute intervals, engaging in a soothing activity post journal writing, and not journaling an hour before bed, as it can trigger trouble sleeping depending on what you are journaling.
Soothe worry, panic, sadness, and other uncomfortable emotions with intentional interventions. Once you are able to identifying your emotions and validate them, you can then work to manage the distress. Create a list of soothing experiences so it is less difficult to think of an intervention when you are overwhelmed or distressed. Here are a few examples of small ways to intervene and soothe distress:
1. funny videos
2. online concerts
3. soothing scents
4. cozy clothing
5. picturesque landscapes
6. beautiful images
8. socializing with friends or family members through video chat or phone calls
9. being kind and/or helping someone else
Create and follow a routine. Your daily routine has changed. It is necessary to facilitate a sense of normalcy and predictability by organizing your day. Set an alarm and wake up at the same time each day, eat a healthy breakfast, do something productive (work, journal, manage kids, create social media content, create art/poetry), take a break, have lunch, socialize, engage in entertainment, have dinner, engage in a wind down period before bed, go to bed around the same time. This routine will aid in the experience of control and agency. It will assist in managing your mood.
Titrate the amount of news media you are taking in. While it is important to stay abreast of the ever changing COVID-19 pandemic information, it also triggers anxiety and depressive symptoms. Consider being intentional about the time and amount of information you take in. For example, check the news in the morning and in the afternoon. This allows you access to up to date information, but you are not consumed and overwhelmed by what is happening. It allows you to manage your mental health and practice self care.
These methods will take time to get used to, you will need to practice them, and that is ok. It will not always be easy and you may waiver from these methods, but find your way back each time.
Adaobi Anyeji, Phd
The Blue Clinic
Specializing in the treatment of sadness, depression, worrying, anxiety
Los Angeles based Private Psychology Practice
Leave a Reply