How to cope during difficult times

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I know the times we experience now are uncertain and not easy to handle for everyone. Some people are doing great, being productive and handling it well, while others barely manage to survive and not go crazy. Either way, for most of us it’s not that easy to cope with a global pandemic, especially if you feel pressure from parents, teachers or boss to behave as normal, as if nothing is happening, as if we are not experiencing a pandemic. I know we have a lot more time on our hands right now, but that doesn’t mean we are in the best mental state to be as productive as if nothing is going on, because there are many things going on, and for many of us, our assignments or tasks are our last concern and we have bigger things to think about.

Taking care of yourself and your mental state is very important during uncertain times, and you can find the power to get through these times easily and with a smile on your face through these steps:

  1. Treat yourself with love and compassion

It’s easy to blame and judge ourselves for not behaving in the best way, not being productive enough, not being the best version of ourselves, since we have all this time, right? Especially when you talk to your colleagues, your friends, and they seem to be coping better. But it’s not that simple. This is not an easy time and it’s perfectly normal to feel tired, anxious and thoughtful. It’s normal to not have all the energy you usually have and to not be able to focus on what you think should be done today. It’s ok to feel this way and I can assure you, you are not the only one. So try to be understanding towards yourself and set out 1-3 priorities for each day. Allow yourself to move at a slower pace and take the time to be completely focused on the task at hand.

  1. Allow yourself to actually feel your emotions

We all have a tendency to suppress some emotions or feelings that we don’t want to feel, because we find them too much or we simply don’t know how to deal with them. We all have different mechanisms of escaping the world when it feels like it’s too much to handle, either through binge watching our favorite shows, video games, sleeping too much or even alcohol. But unless we actually face, observe and feel our emotions and then let them go, these emotions will actually build up and create a big pile of unresolved issues that will, eventually, explode. We will have to deal with them sooner or later, so it’s better to handle them one by one. If you don’t understand or don’t know how to handle what you’re feeling, there are many psychologists that are now offering free services during the pandemic that could help guide you in this process.

  1. Don’t expect things to be in a certain way

We are used to things being in a certain way, and now that things are different, we continue to act as if nothing has changed, but the truth is that nothing is quite the same like it was before. Things have changed and we live in uncertain times. We don’t know how to behave, when will this be over and so on. It’s ok to change your routines and habits, it’s ok not to have abs when you get out of the quarantine, it’s ok if things feel like they are getting out of control. Don’t expect your life to go back to normal, because the truth is that your life has changed dramatically and for some people, this in itself is a difficult thing to manage. Do your best and know that it’s ok if today, the best you can do is get out of bed!

  1. Breathe

During difficult times, our minds tend to race, our anxiety becomes stronger and our breath is shallow. The more shallow our breath becomes, the more anxiety we feel and the other way around. It’s a vicious cycle that we can break by simply taking a few deep breaths, that send a signal to our brain to calm down. We can do this in a meditation, or simply when we feel our thoughts going crazy and we feel the need to calm down.

  1. Remember that anything passes

Just as our favorite moments pass so fast that they feel like seconds, the bad ones also pass. Maybe not as fast, not as easily, but they pass eventually. Think of a time when it was really difficult for you and life seemed impossible. Think about how you went through it and got up stronger after that, and how insignificant it might seem right now. If you are having a hard time and not knowing when this will be over is driving you crazy, just think about the period after the isolation, think about the moments when you will be hugging your friends, dancing, walking in a park and so on. Think about the places you will visit, the people you will meet. Make plans! And make sure that you do all the things necessary to be ready to do them when you will be able to.

Written by: Chirvase Maria