Every time we experience a loss — a job, a loved one, even a sense of normalcy — we also can experience a type of grief. COVID-19 has caused many of us to experience different types of losses, as we understand life will not be the same once it passes. With so much uncertainty present, it may delay our ability to cope. The current situation can be seen as a boot camp for life post COVID-19, however. The choices you make now can have a significant effect on your long-term goals and who you are becoming.
Here are six strategies to help you manage this experience.
Value Your Emotions
There are five common responses to loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Grief is not a linear experience and these responses can occur at any time, often in combination with other emotions. Try looking at grief as a package. You will find it’s composed of several parts, each allowing you to move through the experience.
Own Your Experience
It’s important to remember that your experience is unique. Many of us are home now and our routines have changed drastically. While many may be grateful to spend added time with your families, others are feeling added pressure and stress. Social distancing has created a sense of isolation that has magnified some issues in families, couples and individuals. Make a routine with behaviors that will only take you 2-5 minutes to accomplish, such as reading or going for a short walk. These new habits will progressively move you in the right directions, even improving upon what was already there.
Ask the Right Questions
When we experience loss and enter a sense of uncertainty, it is normal to ask questions: Why did this happen? Why now? We want to make sense of situations and figure out what to do. Questions leading to actions can be more helpful. For example: What can I do while this passes? What is an area I can improve on? How can I connect with my loved ones better? These will empower you and help you move through your grief more adequately.
Express what you are going through. Doing so will unburden you from how your grief and sense of loss might be accumulating. Unfortunately, we are noticing an increase in family problems, partly due to how individuals are choosing to express their emotions. There are many ways to share your emotions effectively, such as talking to someone, writing in a journal, playing an instrument, listening to your favorite music or painting.
Strive for Growth
Many feel like they have lost their sense of purpose because they are largely confined to their homes. We have an opportunity to redefine what gives us purpose and what is helping us grow, however. Begin each day with two specific goals you want to accomplish, even if it’s just changing your pajamas or reading for a few minutes. Make your goals so easy, you will not need a lot of motivation to begin. At the end of each day or week, you will have an added sense of accomplishment to show for it.
We like stories and giving meaning to situations. Whatever meaning you are giving to this pandemic will influence the responses and actions you take. Try to think of this as a reset period and opportunity to redefine your priorities. This may be a chance for you to even invest in your spiritual beliefs.
Use these strategies to help move through this sense of loss and grief all of us are experiencing collectively. We’re not immune to what is happening, but we can make the most of it. We can either focus on what we have lost or focus on what we have left.
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