Emotional Reactions living with a “New Normal” during the Covid Pandemic
by Sue Ferbert Piti, International Psychotherapist
It has been a few months now dealing with this unprecedented Covid 19 global pandemic. Clients have asked how do we deal with emotions as we come out of the MCO slowly, and work towards maintenance of a new normal. Some are feeling anxious all the time. Others are crying for no apparent reason. Many are feeling out of control or unmotivated to engage in daily tasks, or not wanting to develop new projects.
Normalising Our Feelings
We need to normalize our feelings. By that, we accept whatever feelings we may be having, giving them credibility, but not dwelling on them. One way to do this is to schedule a time daily where you sit with your emotions, write them out (journal) or verbalize them, then let them go. Visit these feelings again the next day, at the same scheduled time. This produces control over the feelings, instead of the feelings controlling you.
Normalizing also means accepting your feelings as unique to you. There is not right or wrong, nor is there any basis for comparison. This global pandemic is new to us all, and feelings will manifest differently in each person. It’s ok if you don’t feel like getting everything done. It’s ok if you don’t start new projects. Create what is positive and healthy for you.
Create daily routines, ones that are feasible for you going forward in this new lifestyle. Create daily gratitude statements which you recite each morning. At night recite 3 accomplishments which you have achieved for that day. Implement diaphragmatic belly breathing for ex: inhale through your nose filling your diaphragm for 4 seconds, then slowly exhale through your mouth. Pranayama, yogic alternate nostril breathing is also another technique to do before you go to bed, or during anytime during the day to relieve stress and anxiety.
Cognitive behavioral techniques such as progressive relaxation where you tense and relax muscle groups throughout the body will also help reduce stress.
Practicing Cognitive restructuring by identifying negative thoughts and modifying or replacing them with positive statements or evaluations is beneficial.
Instead of social distancing, let’s refer to it as physical distancing. Maintain video calls to friends and family, along with social network groups. Regular exercise whether outside or inside by video will also be important. But exposure to sunlight has proven to reduce stress and increase neurotransmitters, such as Serotonin to alleviate mood. Limit time reviewing media coverage to less than 30 minutes daily. Information is educational and positive, but too much can be overwhelming and lead to increased feelings of stress.
Practicing daily meditation, mindfulness techniques or using guided imagery can also be helpful. Apps such as Yoga Nidra, Take a Break, or Simply Being are great examples to help manage stress during the day.
Adjusting to the New Normal
Our attitudes will be greatly shaped by how we embrace this time.Staying positive, creating new rituals, maintaining sleep, eating nutrient dense foods, engaging in friendships and loved ones via social distancing will all make a difference.
We are all vulnerable to Covid. But that does not mean we can’t gain control on how we see ourselves going forward in our lives.We have to live with being vulnerable to fear, which is very different from living IN fear.How do we do this?It’s a personal choice.Choose to take positive actions stated above and you will be able to manage more effectively.We will grow emotionally during this challenging time.And isn’t that a positive life goal? Find the ways in which you have enriched your life during this MCO, whether it’s new rituals, learning how to manage stress better, or improving relationships with family members
Whether you are feeling overwhelmed by the pandemic, please contact us for an appointment (firstname.lastname@example.org). We are offering face to face and online sessions during this difficult time.