It is a fact that Covid 19 has brought uncertainty to our lives. When there is uncertainty, we don’t know what is going to happen. It means we lose safety. At the same time, we lose our innocence, because we realize how vulnerable we are. Grief is in the air.
As human beings, our brain is wired to want to have everything under control to make us feel safe. For this reason, we fight the lack of total control and tend to spend most of our energy on trying to control everything.
We might get upset because others are not doing what we think is best or most appropriate, we could also get frustrated because Covid 19 disturbed our routine and put us in a very uncomfortable situation. We worry because we don’t know what is going to happen to us in this situation. We fear because we might lose our jobs or our loved ones could get sick or die. We might feel outraged because we might be having a more challenging experience than others during this time and a sense of injustice can overwhelm us.
As this happens, we might feel alone and separated from the world.
At this point, anxiety can invade us and overwhelm us because we start imagining the worst possible scenarios. We could get depressed because we feel disconnected from others and might feel trapped in the situation.
So, what can we do to deal with this situation?
- Focus on what you can control
It is important to remember that in every situation there is something that we have control over and if we focus all our energy on it, instead of worrying about what we don’t control, we may feel more empowered, protected and safe.
Let’s think about it. What can we do that is in our control to make our lives better and feel safer?
- Connect to your feelings to understand your needs
Connecting to our own feelings will help us to understand what is that we need.
Lately, when I ask someone “how are they feeling,” I often hear people say what they are feeling doesn’t matter because they can’t change what is happening.
They are right, no one can change it but if we don’t feel our feelings, we are not going to know what we need and we can become anxious or depressed as a result, instead of being able to find what we need and adjust to the situation.
Our body and our feelings have precious information to tell us about, but sometimes it is difficult to acknowledge our feelings because we tend to think that we are going to get trapped in negative feelings.
But remember, feelings are fluid, they will pass if we sit with them, acknowledge them and accept them.
For example, if we are scared about Covid 19 and we accept that feeling, then we get to know that our body needs to feel protected. What can we do about it? Take action, maybe follow the health guidelines that we have been provided with, and once we do it, we might feel better and the scary feeling will go away because we know that we are doing everything that we can do to protect ourselves.
If the scary feelings persist, it might be caused by the other part of the situation that we can’t control.
For example, “how long is this going to last, am I going to get the virus?”
It can be uncomfortable to sit with this question and not know the answer.
So, what other things can we do?
- Look for unique outcomes
Something that can help you to deal with this unsettling feeling that we don’t have control over, could be thinking about situations in the past, that we didn’t have control over, maybe a relationship breakage, a loss. We could get some good ideas from that. How did we deal with those at that time? You still have those skills with you, you can use them now.
- Stay in the Present
Being in the present can also help us to feel better because in the present we don’t have to deal with the scary thoughts that we have imagined because they haven’t happened yet. Let’s take one day at a time so it is less overwhelming and it can help reduce our anxiety.
A routine can be a helpful way to have some certainty about what is going to happen next at least for that day. It will help our mind feel safer.
- Focus on something positive when you start making horror movies on your mind.
Every time you catch yourself trying to anticipate the worst do something positive that you enjoy instead. Use the time to practice your hobby, study something that interests you, find a book that you have wanted to read, or try to learn to do something that you have always wanted to learn, but could never find the time to do it. We spend too much of our time creating horror movies in our minds. Let’s try to see it this way, If your child or someone you love are scared and come to you, would you tell them every scary scenario that could happen? or would you try to calm them down and stay positive? If so, why would you do this to yourself? Are you being fair and considerate to youself?
- Think about what you are grateful for
Thinking about what you are grateful for reminds you of what you have or what is going well in your life. It has been proven that gratitude makes our brain release dopamine and serotonin, which make us feel good.
- Find Meaning
It might also be helpful to connect with your beliefs about faith and reflect on if there is a higher power or if there is a specific way that you perceive the way that the world functions. That may help you to interpret the situation that is happening right now and then give meaning to it.
When we get trapped inside the problem, we lose perspective and we can get lost in it.
Let’s zoom out and try to find the meaning of this situation for us.
It may be something like: The universe or a higher power is trying to tell us that there are better ways to live, but we might not be able to find them if we keep behaving the way we have done it for years…
Or something like: A higher power is trying to remind us what is important in life.
Or the universe is trying to tell us that at the end we are all the same and there needs to be more empathy in the world and only through this situation can we learn that…
You will come to your own conclusion about the meaning because you are a unique human being and everyone’s experience is valid. Because of this reason, it is important to not compare ourselves to others. This will only bring us disappointment and frustration.
So, remember, focus on yourself, on what you can control and try to find meaning.
Cristina Deneve, MA, AMFT #109193
Marriage and Family Therapy Associate
Supervised by Michael Uram MA, LMFT #45428, LPC #1984
Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist