Are you feeling a bundle of stress-like symptoms?
Know that you are not alone with the coronavirus blues.
The “new normal” birthed when the pandemic came knocking at our door, which has left many of us feeling unraveled. We long to usher the ordinary back into our lives and to feel grounded. We question our feelings and wonder, “Is this normal?”
Normal is relative to what we compare it to, as well as subjective to opinion. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations, like the coronavirus, so let’s unpack the most common ways it has affected people and how to cope.
Are you swinging back and forth between calmness and irritability? Are you lashing out and responding inappropriately?
Mood swings can be a red flag that you need to sleep better, eat better, give yourself some self-care, or turn off electronic devices so you hear less discouraging news.
Choose to focus on the pandemic as a temporary challenge. It will end someday!
Ensure you get regular social support (through virtual means during the pandemic). Share your thoughts and feelings with people and empathize with them in return. Find ways to share kindness, patience, and compassion. As you give these things to others, your outlook will change. It is virtually impossible to feel intense irritability and calm at the same time.
Feelings of Fear
Do you find yourself feeling fearful of the “what ifs”? What if I get sick? What if my children get sick?
While it is smart to prepare and have a “what if we get sick” plan in place, focus on life in the very moment otherwise.
Use preventive measures to ward off the virus, and then file your worries away. The more you worry, the more it can eat away at your mental health and your immune system. Remember, you are okay right now.
Are you having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep? Are you sleeping much more than you did before the pandemic?
Sleep is vital to your mental and physical health. Healthy adults require an average of 7-9 hours of sleep per night.
Too little sleep can add to mood swings, depression, fatigue, and it can lead to weight gain. Have you ever headed for the refrigerator, answered the call to cravings, and then realized you were simply tired?
Too much sleep can lead to productivity issues, low energy during the waking hours, anxiety, memory deficits, and sleepiness. Fatigue from too much sleep can lead you to nap, yet tiredness caused by an overabundance of sleep is unaffected by how much you sleep.
- Decrease alcohol and caffeine consumption.
- Turn off your devices—make your bedroom a haven from your screen life and negative news.
- Eat at regular times during the day.
- Do not exercise within an hour of going to bed.
- Try journaling to put your thoughts onto paper and out of your mind.
- Consider drinking herbal tea, such as lavender or chamomile, before bedtime.
- Melatonin supplements may also help to regulate your sleep cycle.
Go back to the basics with your sleep despite any irregularities that the coronavirus has brought to your life.
Feelings of Sadness
Have you noticed that you are experiencing feelings of sadness or tearfulness?
These are common temporary symptoms that accompany coronavirus blues. The key here is, do the feelings wash over and leave, or do they stick around and possibly indicate chronic depression?
Try to pinpoint what induces your feelings of sadness and tearfulness. Determine what you can control and let the rest of it go.
- Practice mindfulness (awareness of the present moment).
- Take up journaling.
- Practice self-care.
- Get proper sleep.
- Focus on a healthy diet and eat meals at regular times.
Try writing statements that describe your sadness in a journal. Then dig deep into your statements. This will help you to determine what is reality and what you can or cannot change. If you are looking for a few more suggestions, check out these 12 ways to nurture your mental health during COVID-19.
Example statement: I am so sad about all this bad news. I feel threatened by this virus every single moment of my life.
Reality: Dig in, does it really affect every single moment of your day? Or is it part of the day and sometimes? Is your family safe from the virus right now, and have you taken measures to prevent the virus from entering your lives?
What you can and cannot change: You can turn the news off. You are safe at the moment. You’ve taken measures to keep you and your family well. You cannot erase the virus from your community, but you have done your best to help stop the spread. This IS reality, journal it!
Have you lost your appetite, or are you eating more than you normally do and gaining weight?
While a change in appetite can be a sign of depression, it may also be a temporary symptom caused by a disruption in your life that you can easily correct.
A healthy diet is part of self-care. An unhealthy diet, eating too little or too much, or often eating sporadically, can lead you to feel ill with symptoms of anxiety, fatigue, mood swings, as well as sleep issues.
Use a free tool, such as a tracking app, to get a handle on how much and what you are eating. Plan specific times for meals, and control snacking.
Journaling your nutritional intake can be done on paper as well, but either way, healthy eating habits can go miles in battling a mental struggle as you properly feed your brain and body!
Do you often feel extremely tired?
Fatigue can result from a lack of self-care, depression, health issues, and sleep changes.
Try doing the opposite of what your body is telling you. Your sense of fatigue may go away with regular exercise. A simple walk can help ward off tiredness, stress, sadness, and it can help with appetite and sleep.
Ensure you are getting the proper amount of solid sleep and that you are eating a healthy diet. Hydration is also important to ward off fatigue. Your tired feeling (and headaches if you have them) may go away by drinking enough water!
You Are Not Alone
Pandemics can be stressful. The virus has disrupted life for all of us. We understand. Most of us are feeling sadness and at least some level of uneasiness.
Pay attention to how long your symptoms last. You may be dealing with “normal” symptoms of coronavirus blues that you can improve with self-care measures.
If you find that this time is specifically challenging, or if you are experiencing long-term symptoms, your self-care might include seeking mental health support. Do not hesitate to reach out to your therapist, and if you do not have one, we will help match you with the right fit.