Covid-19–How Do We Cope? (Part V)

I never thought that almost two years later I would be yet again posting about Covid-19. Who would have thought we would still be in the clutches of this pandemic, in the midst of yet another lockdown? 

How does one maintain one’s composure, one’s equilibrium during these challenging, difficult times? Everybody, to some degree or another, has been affected by this seemingly pandemic. It induces anxiety, depression, isolation, frustration. For me personally, I find that my ‘life force’ and my motivation are at a low ebb; my ‘joie de vivre’ has, in large part, been extinguished.

 

 

 

What I need to keep reminding myself of is the following:

 i) At some point life will   return to normal. Indeed, many pundits believe that the     Omicron wave could be the pandemic’s last stand. Historically, pandemics run their  course after two to three years;
 ii) I am not alone. Once again, my feelings of angst are shared by most people. I need to get out of my own head and empathize with all others who are struggling as much as me.

  iii) I need to practice gratitude. I need to be grateful for things I often take for granted: I have good friends; I still have work to be done; I can pay my bills.

 

I think a trick to surviving this dystopian era is to try to maintain ‘normal’ when all around is anything but. Maintain regular sleeping hours. Maintain regular eating habits. Get up in the morning, get showered and dressed and maintain your normal routines as much as possible. If normal routines are no longer possible, develop new, healthy routines. Even if one feels that there is not much point of getting out of bed in the morning, I think it is important to ‘fake it until you make it’.

 

In preparation for World War II, the British government produced a motivational poster to raise the morale of the British public. The slogan: “keep calm and carry on”. This slogan encapsulates the type of stoicism, the ‘stiff upper lip’ approach to times of adversity for which the British were renowned.
We are in times of adversity. The most any of us can do is to keep calm and carry on; and live our lives one day at a time, secure in the knowledge that, with time, life will improve.

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My musings on how to cope during these troubled times–a fourth and final installment…. 
 
1.   For most of us, this pandemic has resulted in a slower pace of life.  This slower pace has provided me with time to reflect on what is truly important in life.  My epiphanic revelation:  connecting with others is what makes life worthwhile (at least for me).  The frenetic pace of my pre-Covid existence caused me to lose touch with individuals who meant and continue to mean a lot to me.  My best intentions to keep in touch were sabotaged by the daily demands on my time—demands which I felt needed to take precedence.  In short, this ‘downtime’ has made me reevaluate my priorities; and I have used this time to reconnect with family and friends.   
 
2.   Covid-19 is an ‘equalizer’.  Your background, your social status, your race, your wealth and prestige—none of it matters.   This insidious virus does not discriminate based on class, upbringing, etc.  We are all equally vulnerable.  And we all equally need each other to survive.  We depend on each other (for instance, to respect government directives and protocols) so that we can all reduce our risk of contracting the virus. 

Historically, the pervasive mentality seemed to be ‘every person for him or herself’.  We are learning that such a mindset does not bode well for our continued survival as a species. For humanity to survive, we need to appreciate that no person is an island:  we are all bonded together; we need each other.  Perhaps quixotic dreaming on my part, but I would like to think this ‘equalizing’ virus might establish a more philanthropic approach to living.    
 
3.  Bear in mind that you are not alone.  If you are struggling, if you are suffering, reach out to family and friends; reach out to your doctor.   Sometimes, however, friends and family are not enough.  There is no doubt this pandemic is taking its toll on people’s mental health.  If you are really struggling, help is at your fingertips.  There are many helplines available to deal with people in crisis.  Just for example:  

  1. The Ottawa Distress Line:  613-238-3111; 
  1. ementalhealth.ca:  613-722-6914; or, 613-260-2360 

 
4.   Finally, keep telling yourself that these crazy times will eventually pass—and indeed, they will.  Life will return to a semblance of normalcy.  Or, maybe, just maybe, the new normal will be an improvement over the pre-Covid-19 modus vivendi. This historic crisis could help us reevaluate what is truly meaningful.  We will put down our smartphones and tablets, quit working ourselves to an early grave, and develop our connections with our fellow beings in more meaningful ways. 

Covid-19—How Do We Cope? (Part III)

This is the third installment of my Covid-19 blog—a blog in which I wax eloquent on the subject of coping strategies during these trying times: 

1.   Maintain a routine.  Everything is upside down, inside out, and many of us have lost our routines.  Routines, however, are important; our quotidian rituals help us maintain a semblance of normalcy. It may sound counter-intuitive, but maintaining daily routines can help us feel more in control of everything and help us to make room for that which is important.  So, go to bed and get up at regular hours. .  Dress for work, even if you are working from home. Pay attention to your physical appearance. Do not neglect proper sustenance and eat at regular hours.  Healthy habits help us to cope with change and reduce our stress levels. 

2. Keep occupied.  Feelings of boredom and ennui are overwhelming many of us.  We must make a conscious effort to overcome these feelings, someway, somehow, for boredom foments anxiety and depression.  The pace of life has slowed considerably, but this should not be an excuse to atrophy. Perhaps now is a good time to resurrect an old avocation; or, perhaps one could pursue an entirely new hobby? Expand your culinary repertoire; pull out that old musical instrument; learn to paint; take online yoga; learn a new language—indulge yourself.  
 

3. Some of us are contending with feelings of loneliness.  Alone time is not necessarily a bad thing; believe it or not, there are certain benefits: 
 
a) One learns to value one’s time.  If there is anything that should be deemed important and precious, it’s ‘time’.  Individuals who spend time alone understand that, and they give their limited time the respect and value it deserves; 
b)   Time alone can make one more self-aware.  When you are constantly with others, it’s easy to ignore one’s own thoughts and emotions.  When you are alone, you have no choice but to embrace these thoughts and emotions, become fully aware of them.  This pandemic could possibly serve as a golden opportunity to get to know yourself better than ever; 
c)   It has been said that time alone keeps you level-headed.  Being alone allows you to learn how to focus and grow your will power as a result of all your time reflecting.  People who spend time alone generally do not get overwhelmed because they know themselves so well.  

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Covid-19—How Do We Cope? (Part II)

I continue where I left off in Part I of “Covid-19—How Do We Cope?”  To recap:  my proffered coping strategies included, i) keep calm and carry on; ii) live one day at a time; iii) try to be grateful. 
To be clear, I struggle as much as the next person dealing with this remarkable change in how we live our lives:  how we deal with isolation (and as a corollary, loneliness); how we deal with boredom; how we socialize; how we conduct business.   
Realizing my own shortcomings when it comes to providing advice on a subject of which I know little, I conferred with some doctors–more qualified than I to offer valuable insight–on how to cope… 
 

  1. Moderate your media exposure.  The news has a penchant for sensationalism.  Bad news sells:  accentuate the negative, eliminate the positive.  Media will dwell on that which is lugubrious—e.g. lives lost as opposed to lives recovered, progress made.  Watch enough news to keep informed, but do not be consumed by the stories of doom and gloom. 
  1. I previously suggested reaching out to others, helping others, in an effort to escape one’s own troubled mind.  The converse holds true.  If you are struggling, reach out to friends and loved ones.  There is no shame in admitting you are having a bad time of it.  Trouble shared is trouble halved. 
  1. Keep moving.  Do not become a couch potato.  Exercise is important, for it increases one’s endorphin levels.  What are endorphins?  They are a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system; peptides which activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect.  In other words, endorphins are natural pain killers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort.  An endorphin rush can help generate a feeling of general wellbeing. 
  1. Do not seek your endorphin rush within the confines of your four walls.  Go outside and breathe the fresh air.  Enjoy the sun and the warmth (and yes, I do realize that we have had one of the crappiest springs EVER). As long as you are practicing safe social distancing, you have nothing to lose, but much to gain.  The sun is a panacea for many woes. 

5. Do not seek your endorphin rush through alcohol (or other mind-altering substances).  Tempting indeed to seek solace in a sea of Chablis; but alcohol—the world’s most notorious depressant—offers short-term gain, for long-term pain.  Your mind-altering substance might offer you an analgesic band-aid, but the relief is short-lived; the aftermath, not so much.  Avoid that downward spiral. 

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