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Coping with COVID-19

by Jenni Jackson
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In these unprecedented times, most of us are going through circumstances and emotions that we have never experienced in our lifetime. There is no “emotional pandemic guidebook” or right way to feel and act during self-isolation.

However, here are some tips to practice during this time to help you stay feeling as grounded and in control as possible in the coming weeks:

Attune to Yourself and Others - As human beings, we need connection. We are all biologically driven to search for attachment and relationships with others. During this time, recognize the impact that social distancing may be having on yourself and your family. Give yourself and others extra slack and recognize that feeling this impact is normal.

Feel all the Feels - Be present. Right now, a million different emotions may be coming at you in waves. If you focus on feeling and experiencing these emotions as they arise, you can ride that wave, and the intensity will come and go. Honour your experience. Recognize that there is no one way to process or feel during this time, and however you are emotionally coping with these new experiences is ok.

Practice your Self-Care and Coping - What kinds of things help ease the stress for you right now? Do you practice yoga, mindfulness, keep a gratitude journal or draw? There are lots of web-based and virtual hobbies to get connected to online right now if you need new ideas, like this article about 11 Hobbies to Reduce Stress. It’s important during an anxiety provoking and dysregulating time to have strategies to employ as those emotional waves get bigger. You can do it- riding the wave isn’t easy but it will subside.

Maintain and Foster Connection - What are some ways you could connect with friends and family without being in physical contact with them? Give your parents a phone call, create a weekly family-wide Skype, Zoom or Facebook Messenger video chat. Drop off care packages to senior family members or neighbours, or write and mail a letter. Join in a neighborhood initiative like writing inspirational messages on your driveway with sidewalk chalk or on your windows with window markers. Start a picture scavenger hunt or a virtual karaoke challenge! Waterloo Region also has a new Facebook Group called CareMongering KW where you can offer help to those in need, or ask for assistance from those more able to assist others.

Stay Active and Get Fresh Air Daily - Spring is here, so get outside and enjoy the fresh air! After a long winter with short days and less sunlight, many people have suffered varying levels of Seasonal Affective Disorder. So, take advantage of the extra daylight and warmer weather. Try to move your body at least 30 minutes a day. Being socially distant doesn’t mean you can’t go out for a walk or take a hike at a nearby trail. Just be sure to stay at least six feet away from other hikers.

However, keep in mind that if you are under quarantine that’s a different story. You need to stay at home, but you can still check out all the online fitness and yoga videos the community (and Facebook and YouTube!) have to offer.