Are you having a hard time adjusting to the change in your daily routine caused by COVID-19 safety measures? Me too.
Whether you’re trying to figure out how to homeschool or how to work remotely, it can be overwhelming right? Many of us aren’t used to spending so much time at home or away from our normal day-to-day activities. It’s a big change.
Some common things people miss are:
• Stopping for morning coffee
• Seeing other parents at school drop off
• Chatting with coworkers
• Going to the gym
• Seeing your favorite servers and dining out with family
• Church and other religious/spiritual gatherings
• Leisurely shopping
You also might be afraid about how you’re going to pay your bills, take care of your family and if you’ll get sick. These changes and fears can cause a sense of emotional isolation. So not only are we more isolated physically, but emotionally as well. Society taught us to “put on a happy face” which means that many of us think we shouldn’t talk about negative or painful feelings.
All of this means that the world is grieving!
Grief is defined as the normal and natural emotional reaction to loss or change of any kind.
Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.
Grief is reaching out for something that has always been there only to find that when you need it again it’s no longer there.
All of our familiar patterns have changed and with change comes grief. So if you’re grieving the loss of your routine and the physical isolation caused by COVID-19 shelter in place measures, we want you to know that your feelings are normal and natural.
So what are some helpful things to do during this time of overwhelming grief and isolation?
1. Remember there is nothing wrong with you. Grief can be lonely and isolating on its own. Even though the whole world is experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, you are very much unique in how it impacts you. How you feel is never the same as someone else and your feelings are normal.
2. Participate. The antidote to emotional and physical isolation is participation. The idea that we need to grieve alone is a myth.
First, practice shifting what you believe about communicating your sad and painful thoughts and feelings. Know that you should talk about them as you would happy or positive thoughts.
Next, find ways to engage with other people.
3. Video Chat. Choose your favorite video chat service and start an online meeting based on common interests like a book club, spiritual program or a trivia night.
4. Hop on the phone. We’ve gotten so used to email and texting that many of us have stopped making phone calls. This is a good time to change that. Hearing a familiar voice can provide a tremendous amount of comfort. You also get a deeper level of connection than over text and email because you are hearing the inflection and tone of someone’s voice.
5. Read The Grief Recovery Handbook. The tools in the Handbook will help with your sense of isolation.
6. Don’t intellectualize. Grief is emotional, not logical or intellectual. Following CDC and government regulations for sheltering in place and social distancing is what we all should do for our own safety and the welfare of our families, coworkers and community, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. There’s no need to explain away your feelings with intellectual truths. In fact, doing that could make you feel more isolated because you think you have no one to talk to.
7. Avoid STERB’s. What are STERB’s? They are short term energy relieving behaviors. STERB’s are activities that distract you from sad or painful feelings following a loss. And they work! – but only a SHORT TERM. Eventually, they will stop working.
What are common STERBs?
• Excessive exercise
• Video games
• Playing on the Internet
• Keeping Busy
8. Check-in with friends and family members. Set a time of day to talk with your loved ones.
9. Practice your present moment skills. When you find yourself going out of the moment remember that you can get back in the present. First, acknowledge your thoughts and feelings (so you’re not avoiding them) then try to focus on what’s happening right in front of you. This works best if you allow yourself to have your feelings as they arise. It’s much harder if you try to ignore or push your feelings away.
10. Do an activity. Try cleaning, organizing, exercising, cooking, doing crafts with your kids, teaching your dog a new trick, home improvements, gardening, working, going in the yard for fresh air or reading a book
So there’s our list. What things help you get through each day during these challenging times?
Want to read more about COVID-19 and grief? Here are some of our other helpful blogs . . .
What You Need to Know About Coronavirus and Grief
How to Talk to Your Kids About the Coronavirus