• StarRiseCounseling

How to Get Through the Covid-19 Crisis

Yes, I said "get through," because the first thing to do is to realize that this situation will change.

Like any difficult emotion, this situation is even easier to experience while worrying that it will never end. But as I would suggest for anyone with an intensely rising feeling - of panic, despair, grief, hopelessness, anger, anxiety, rage - if you learn to ride the wave, you will ride it out. Because there's one more thing in addition to death and taxes that we can always count on, and that is (can you guess?) change.

That might not be everyone's favorite thing to hear. You might be in love, and you don't want it to change. You might feel security and stability, and you wish that will not change. You could be happy or content in this moment, and you'd like that not to change.

Of course. Yet, here we are in this life, with certain rules, the most ironic one of all being that we can't change that things change! The ultimate truth is that sometimes change works in our favor and we thank our lucky stars - you or a loved one is in the hospital, or not feeling well, for example - and sometimes it does not seem to work to our advantage. But sometimes, even something that seemed like it didn't work out well actually might have.

Let's just say that these things are the waves in the ocean, and let us say further that you wouldn't dream of trying to order the waves to stop. What next, then? Here are some things that you can do or move toward or keep in mind, once you decide that stopping what is already happening is just not possible.

Be prepared. For what, a toilet paper shortage? No, because there isn't one. There is just a lot of toilet paper being stored by a few people. But do be prepared for playing the long game, as they say - for things to be different and for each of our households to be isolated from others for a while. Acceptance is a kind of preparation - it can take the edge off of anxiety, and anxiety, at it's heart, has a motto just like the Girl Scouts: Be prepared. Also, yes, do be prepared for things like staying at home for days longer than you may have ever planned. Order things you might really need to use soon, but please don't see this crisis as a shortage of everyday stuff, because that is not what it is, and that's really not what there's a shortage of (unlike sterile masks for hospital and front line workers and tests for COVID-19). Which brings me to...

Remember things aren't always as they seem. Always a good life skill is to remember the times you've thought for sure that something you feared would happen, and it did not. We all have those things. Were you afraid of the dark or going to bed because monsters might appear under the bed or in your closet? Did you ever have a misunderstanding with someone? Or think they were being selfish and they really weren't? I used to be afraid of flying because I always thought for sure my plane would crash. I've been on many airplane flights as recently as weeks ago, and all of them did not crash. Our daily lives are still full of such examples. I always think of the man enraged in traffic because the woman ahead of him appeared to be distracted by playing with her child in the back seat, when in actuality her child was choking. Think of the stories of people apparently taking more than their fair share at the grocery store, and that sometimes they are hoarding and other times they are shopping for someone else in addition to themselves. Speaking of which...

Do something for someone else. This is a common coping skill for dealing with depression, and most of us are going through some level of grief, loss, sadness, and/or anger right now - all potential factors in depression. And here's the kicker, which does not diminish the action in any way: it is also doing something for yourself. We all benefit from pride, accomplishment, or a little mental self-pat on the back, and that is perfectly acceptable. Again, daily life is providing us a multitude of examples, from running errands or looking out for neighbors, to using a talent like singing or playing piano to serenade others, to making someone laugh, to making supportive comments to others on social media, to simply staying home if you can. And lastly but at all least...

Learn from this. This is the broadest category, but not the least you can do. (Or do I mean to say it IS the least you can do?) What I mean is that there is, once again, no shortage of examples of the ways in which one can do this. Learn from others' mistakes (ehem, world leaders definitely not excluded). Learn something about how to take care of your (and others') health. Learn something new, like: a language, an instrument, a TikTok dance (or just learn your own limits on how much time to spend on TikTok - I'm talking directly to later-this-evening-me right now). Learn what you're like when you're truly bored, and then learn how to stop being bored. Learn how to ask for help. Learn to cook yourself more than toast and eggs. Learn the origins of something you've always wondered about. Learn how to change your bike tire, why your dog stares at you, or why these Finnish people have things on their heads.

Before you sing this song or this happens to you, try one or several of these suggestions above. Maybe even more than once. Because this way, you can, and you will, get through this, and probably as an even better person than you already are.

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