Coping with Major Life Changes in the Wake of Coronavirus

Larry Deavers is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Executive Director of Family Counseling Service, a member Agency of the United Way of West Alabama. Larry Deavers is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker and Executive Director of Family Counseling Service, a member Agency of the United Way of West Alabama.

Every American has been impacted by the CODIV-19 virus and our national and local response to it. The last several weeks have created a great deal of unexpected change and uncertainty in a very short period, which can leave any one of us feeling a bit unnerved. 

Though circumstances can seem daunting, each of us has dealt with difficult and uncertain situations at other points in our lives. One of your strongest assets in dealing with the suddenness and comprehensiveness of this change is knowing that, though the nation going through it all together is something that has not been experienced since WWII, you as an individual have survived and conquered other trying times, perhaps even on multiple occasions.  

Now is the time to draw on that experience. Remind yourself that you can make it through tough situations, and you have – even when you thought they demanded more than you could give. Below are some ideas to remind you of strengths you may have forgotten and strategies that you may just need to dust off to manage this latest trial.

Focus on what you can control. Give yourself permission to be a bit on-edge. It would be unusual if you were not, at least a little. When those thoughts go through your mind that say, “What are you going to do?” “How will we survive?” “We are going to lose everything!” simply try to recognize that those thoughts are to be expected, but they are likely based in more of an emotional reaction than on actual facts

Yes, there are legitimate problems, inconveniences, and even threats to our health, but the odds are still greatly on your side.

Manage your thoughts. Rather than giving in to your self-defeating thoughts and allowing your anxiety and fear to run rampant, make an intentional effort to reign in those thoughts. Challenge them with more practical, factual observations. “This is only temporary.” “We are going to get through this.” “The most likely outcome is very much in our favor.” 

Avoid giving into the temptation to just sit and dwell on the worst-case scenario. The old adage that 90% of the things we worry about never happens is absolutely true.

Keep a regular schedule and routine as much as possible. If you are working from home, try to stick to your normal sleep and work schedule. Put safeguards in place that allow you to focus on getting work done, such as an established workstation, rules about interruptions from family, avoid taking personal calls while you are working, etc. 

Even if you are not working from home, a routine for each day will boost your sense of confidence, accomplishment, and purpose. Giving in to treating every day like Saturday diminishes your sense of meaning very quickly.

Include some physical activity in every day. What you choose is up to you, but getting your blood pumping and your heart rate up for a little while does wonders to improve your mood, focus, energy level, self-confidence and general sense of well-being. You will be imminently more prepared to deal with stress, and you will find that the stress does not seem so overwhelming. You may even discover that it improves your sleep.

Take advantage of this opportunity. Use this time to make connections with old friends online or by phone. Re-invest some of that pent-up energy into your family relationships. Do something special with your spouse. Get some of those tasks done at home you have been putting off. We often wait until we feel like doing something to get started. The truth is that motivation most often comes after we take those first steps to get something done. 

Once you begin working on that project, doing some spring cleaning, re-claiming that old storage room, or setting up your man-cave, when you get over that initial hump, your motivation will kick in and you will be surprised at what you can get done and how much accomplishment you feel afterwards. 

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Druid City Living (DCL) is Tuscaloosa, Alabama's premier community newspaper, covering the great people, places and activities of the area.

 

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