Look for the Silver Lining Even During a Pandemic
While difficult times can drown us in despair. Determination can help people fight back and find ways to overcome the overwhelming.
How we find the ways forward in this era of rising COVID-19 cases and the damage the coronavirus brings is up to each of us – but even now, silver linings can be found.
“Finding small ways to celebrate – and being deliberate in our approaches to every day – are both steps in the right direction toward overcoming the fear, grief and anxiety that comes with this era in our lives,” said Nancy Wise-Vander Lee, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in women’s health at Avera Medical Group Behavioral Health Clinic.
She said people can focus on gratitude, be intentional in our efforts and develop alternative routines and skills as we go forward.
Body, Mind and Spirit
When we face challenges, they hit us on many levels. Bright sides are found when we exercise our bodies, minds and spirits.
“There are many amazing stories of how people, over the last few months, have found a spiritual awakening as they help others and themselves,” Wise-Vander Lee said. “Remember to be holistic with yourself as you go forward. Use your mind to move your body and keep spiritual endeavors in the mix as well. Stay in touch with your church. Keep a higher power in the day-to-day work you do. Pray or meditate more – all of these steps can ensure your mental and physical state is stronger because your spiritual mind is working hard, too.”
Share Lockdown Hobbies
Whether you’ve taken up piano, started baking or are making the state parks your exploratory mini-universe, you can share what you’re doing with others. It can bring joy to your friends and loved ones who are socially distant.
“Not all of us want to go camping, but everyone enjoys seeing pretty pictures of nature or videos of you and your loved ones having fun,” she said. “If you’ve started knitting or some other crafty hobby, think about who you might share it with. If you’re baking and cooking, share images on social media or give people recipes. If you can do it while keeping social distance, maybe share some samples.”
If you’ve picked up (and maybe set down) a hobby or two, there’s still time to try one more, or return to one that failed to hold your interest.
The Work of Staying in Touch is Worth It
It’s not easy to sit down and write a letter to someone, and it can be a juggling act to mesh schedules for a full-family Zoom session. But these efforts often provide a return on investment that’s worth the time spent with pen and paper or coordinating the schedules of a large group of loved ones.
“Disconnection and loneliness are really commonplace now, so be diligent in planning and hosting video conferences or even group phone calls,” Wise-Vander Lee said. “You’ll feel better when they’re over and they can really help. This is an unprecedented time, so just don’t give up on trying to find ways to make connections.”
Start at Self-Care to Help Others
The metaphorical airplane we’re all riding has oxygen masks, but remember: put yours on first before you help others.
“You won’t be able to help your children, parents, spouse or coworkers if you’re overwhelmed and out of sorts – so find things that fill your bucket and schedule them,” said Wise-Vander Lee.
Those things can include:
- Getting outside for walks
- Trying new things
“Make time for your own care and for self-compassion,” Wise-Vander Lee said.
Stop Scrolling and Start Scheduling
Comparisons can cripple us. If time on social sites or photo-sharing apps makes you unhappy, drop those parts from your day. Too much time on social media is mandatory – you can make an alternative routine. Call friends or family or set up a video chat – seeing those faces and hearing them share stories can lift spirits and help you connect.
“We can all think of a few people we’re not seeing like we did. Give them a call. Set a time to Zoom with them,” said Wise-Vander Lee.
If the challenges of these times are leading you to overwhelming grief or loneliness, talk to your primary care provider or a counselor.