The pandemic has caused a secondary epidemic of anxiety and depression among most people. Coping with those feelings can be an all-encompassing experience, and that is just not a way to go through life.
When you think you don’t have a future, you live in the past and spend too much time dwelling on your mistakes and regrets. A would-a, should-a, could-a mantra looping through our brains and bodies is destructive to our emotional well-being.
One of the ways to cope with this different life is to keep moving. It may sound simplistic, but it does work and it helps you propel your life in a more positive direction. It’s just a matter of keeping yourself busy at doing whatever you find along the way.
When we sit and dwell on what might happen, might have happened, or might not happen, it sucks up all our energy, including our ambition and drive to make things better. To circumvent that response, I recommend going on a betterment binge, and just go from one thing to the next, no matter what the circumstances.
If you are finding it hard to basically function, you must force yourself to move forward, but you can do it in small bite-sized chunks, so it feels less intimidating.
First, list three things that you need to do every day, such as exercise, showering, and doing some work (or looking for some work to do). I motivate myself by telling my brain that if I can’t figure out something positive to do with this time, then it’s out to the garage to continue cleaning it – which I hate, so I usually figure something out.
If you have lost your job or business, it’s hard to be content right now, but you have to try and make things better every day, or the negative feelings are just going to take over. Like I said, it doesn’t have to be big stuff, but you do have to get the basics covered to give yourself a chance to recover.
Yes, I think we will get the virus under control, but so much damage has already occurred psychically that it will take even more time to get back to some feeling of safety and normality. For now, you need to have patience, and that’s hard when you are feeling down. It’s also scary, because you wonder if this pandemic or this mood will ever go away, but don’t fall into that pit—and if you do, make yourself climb out of it by doing something mundane but necessary.
Learning to relax when you are anxious about the future is a matter of learning how to keep moving forward and not dwell on the past. Yes it takes some practice to rewire your brain and cope appropriately with this time warp we are all living in, but I help people do it every day, and it does work.
Even though some of the things I love to do are gone, I believe I can find other things to take their place and adjust my expectations to go with the flow. We have all had to do this before, but never for so long.
The unspoken benefit of this time in our lives is that it will lead us to new things, and that always brings with it a sense of wonder. So I will enjoy this holiday season as much as possible from the comfort of my home, with the love of my wife and the knowledge that we will survive this and then thrive again in the future.
Barton Goldsmith, Ph.D., LMFT, is an award-winning therapist and writer. He is a columnist, blogger and the author of seven books, including “Visualization For Success – 75 Psychological Empowerment Exercises To Get You What You Want In Life.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org