Don’t touch your face! Wash your hands if you do! Wash your hands if you don’t! Don’t forget to use hand sanitizer as often as possible! By this point, your nerves are frayed, and your hands chapped from all the handwashing and sanitizing. It has been a lot.
Of course, that’s nothing compared to those who have fallen ill, passed away, or ‘recovered’ with lasting effects. The two are related: by doing the first things, we are hoping to prevent the latter from occurring.
It’s certainly a good way to mitigate the risk. The kids might still be at home, with many schools uncertain about how to resume. A lot of people are working from home or laid off. We aren’t meeting our friends and family in-person. For a time, the grocery shelves were wiped out and people were spending an hour in line in hopes of fulfilling their list.
Life has changed in a series of big and small ways due to COVID-19. The only highlight of this is that there has been some shared human connection in everyone else going through it, too. We are all going through this same tumultuous event, and we’re all in it together. At least, we should be.
There is nothing funny about a pandemic, but it’s important to stay grounded. As difficult as it seems, it’s important to accept reality and not catastrophize about what hasn’t yet happened. We all cope differently with horrible situations, and we all struggle with our locus of control.
The Acceptance of Reality
There are things you can do to wield control in this situation. Focus on things that geuninely reduce your risks and maintain your well-being.
Firstly, it’s important that you sleep well, eat well, and move often. Those are basics of life that stand true in normal times and during a pandemic.
It’s also important that you pay attention to social distancing. If you’re allowed to have contact with others, then do so, but do it safely. That means wearing a mask, handwashing, and sanitizing often. A small bit of anxiety can be productive if it’s causing you to take proper precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. If we didn’t have a level of reasonable worry, then no one would take the appropriate measures to protect themselves and others.
But there is unproductive anxiety, too, where you allow it to spin out of control by imagining what would happen if you catch the illness, or your child, or someone else you know. It’s happened to other people so it’s not ridiculous to imagine that someone close to you could catch a highly communicable disease.
You can counteract thoughts like these by focusing on the present. Remind yourself you are safe at home as you cook dinner, snuggle with your partner, play with your kids, or complete your workday.
You can think about the risks and uncertainties all day, but past the point of reasonable preparations, it won’t change anything, and it won’t make you feel any better. It could even make things worse if your health becomes compromised by the extra stress, increasing your risk, or your reactions cause you to neglect or damage other important parts of your life that weren’t being threatened or could have provided extra help, opportunities, or comfort during this time.
What began as a tragic story on the news has become a very real threat to our world. In all likelihood, by now you might know someone who has been touched by COVID-19, if not you personally.
By staying grounded, you are not minimizing the pandemic or sticking your head in the sand. You are simply taking the necessary steps to protect your mental health and stay sane.
Think of all the steps you have been taking to protect your physical health. Now think about what steps you have taken to protect your emotional and mental health? With that in mind, what are you going to do to ensure you stay grounded by accepting the reality of the pandemic while avoiding worrying about things that have not happened?