As we trudge through another month of life during a pandemic, many questions about the future remain. The constant state of the unknown can be anxiety-provoking at minimum, and even though we have all made adjustments, attempting to settle into our new “normal”, the rules, expectations, and mores seem to shift at a moment’s notice.
Even on our best days, the sense of uncertainty and lack of control is ever-present. We try to resume our routines but can feel that things are not quite as they once were in the sea of masks, cleaner and hand sanitizer shortages, remote study and work environments, and travel restrictions. Although none of us are sure when the current situation will end, there are strategies to mitigate the anxiety of the unknown.
Reflect– Take the time to check in with yourself; how are you feeling? Try and pinpoint things that are going well and feel comforting to you, as well as trials you are experiencing, and what you are feeling uncertain about. Consider journaling, meditating or praying.
Be kind to yourself– Do not dwell on or minimize your struggles by comparing them to others or fixating on what you “should” be doing. Recognize that you are doing your best, and your best is enough. Treat yourself as you would treat a friend when they come to you in need.
Focus on what you can control– Limit your news and social media exposure, don’t ruminate on worst case scenarios, or conceptualize fast forwarding to the end of rough times to get your life back- your life is happening right now. Instead, focus on what you can do and control, like your health, activity, relationships and social time. Work towards your goals a little every day.
Take care of yourself– Make sure to tend to your basic wellness needs, like healthy diet, exercise and adequate sleep. Prioritizing your physical and mental health will bolster resilience during difficult times. Also make sure to maintain healthy boundaries- say “no” if you don’t feel up to something, establish a routine, and end work or study time appropriately (set an alarm if you need to!).
Try a new hobby or skill– Instead of focusing on what you can no longer do, or what has changed, limiting your ability to do your job, studies, or hobbies as you used to, consider a new hobby. Revisit an activity you have not engaged in in some time, or seek to learn a new skill. This will help with your sense of purpose.
Ask for help- If you are struggling, and are experiencing difficulty functioning daily, consider asking for help. Mental health professionals, such as therapist and psychologists, are available to assist you during a difficult time. The NOVACares mental health provider database can be accessed at https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/resources.html.