“How are we going to get through this?” is something I think at least once a day. I also hear it from clients, friends, and family. The situation in which we find ourselves in the U.S. has been described as a “double pandemic”, which refers to Covid-19 and the social/political unrest that is occurring. Even if we aren’t aware of it, the stress is running in the background keeping us, in “fight or flight mode” and floods us with stress hormones.
And while all these massive stressors are occurring, people are still living their lives. They are raising kids, moving, mourning the deaths of loved ones, getting married, getting divorced, having children, going to work, dealing with illness, etc. Combine these life events with a double pandemic and it’s a recipe for high stress and decreased mental wellness.
Given everything that is going on in this country, what can you do to cope?
1. Awareness of stress- Tune into your emotions and your stress level; notice how you feel and name the emotions. Notice where you feel the stress in your body. Often, we go through our days and never notice how we feel. Our bodies are trying to give us vital feedback on how we are doing.
2. Scale your stress level - On a scale of 1-10, assign a number to your stress. If your stress is a 5 or higher, it is time to take action.
3. Relieve stress- Find activities that you can do at home, work, grocery store, and/or school. This could be taking a moment to do deep breathing, taking time away to collect your thoughts, smelling some calming essential oils, going for a walk at lunch, or whatever you find that helps bring you some peace. When you are driving in the car, listen to something that lessens your stress. This could be listening to music, podcasts, or comedy.
4. Shift your focus to what you have control over- Recommit to your family’s Covid-19 safety plan. Make your plan for voting. Donate or volunteer for a cause that is important to you. Treat others with respect. Refrain from activities that you know are toxic for you. Make cookies for a neighbor. You get the idea.
5. Get support – If there was ever time to reach out for support, it is now! Consider finding a counselor, find an online support group, speak with spiritual leaders, and/or reach out to friends and family. Most mental health counselors are doing therapy via online teletherapy platforms, making it extremely convenient and safe. You do not have to do this alone. We are in this together.