We’re still living with COVID-19, now what?

Opinion: All the tips you need on coping with ongoing stressors due to the pandemic

A mask is seen on the sidewalk as the coronavirus continues to spread across the United States on March 27, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

We’re three months into this era’s most devastating crisis and there is no end in plain view. It’s the hard truth. What does that mean? The reality is that there will be no “going back” to how things were and, due to lack of federal leadership, there won’t be nationwide system to combat COVID-19’s spread or correlated health and financial fallouts. 

READ MORE: All 50 states partially reopen despite at least 17 seeing rise of coronavirus cases

In short, there is no salvation in immediate sight. So, how do you create a meaningful life while dealing with a supersized, very real, ongoing stressor? You learn to live in and with chaos. Sigh. I know it’s not the answer you want but it’s our reality. You win by chiseling your emotional, mental and spiritual muscles to create the flexibility needed to maintain your sanity. That’s it. You save yourself. Your mental health is the biggest, most valuable asset you have. In times like these it’s important that you cherish and nurture it. Here’s how you start:  

Be Okay With Sadness. There is often a rush to push through things that make us feel vulnerable, scared or weak. It makes sense. It’s uncomfortable to be anxious. It’s not sexy to be panic-stricken. And living in fear can be exhausting. Unfortunately, if you don’t acknowledge and process those feelings you’ll just bury them—and explode later. Avoid having a major meltdown by embracing smaller ones. Be all right with having a bad day…or week, and admitting to your trusted friends and family that you’re fearful when tough scenarios arise. Most of all, have faith that you are resilient enough to get back to happy. 

People move through the streets of the Borough Park section of Brooklyn which has seen an upsurge of coronavirus patients on April 03, 2020 in New York City. Hospitals in New York City, which has been especially hard hit by the coronavirus, are facing shortages of beds, ventilators and protective equipment for medical staff. Currently, over 75,000 New Yorkers have tested positive for coronavirus (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Ask For Support. Help is all around you. It may be via a therapist, spiritual guidance, group therapy, a wise uncle or a patient friend. Be candid about what you need to be your best self. Whether it’s in person quality time (socially distanced), phone calls or Zoom chats or even time alone, share what you’re feeling and allow your loved ones to fill the gap. 

Re-Assess Your Resources. Shift your perspective to one of plenty. Times may be hard, but many people have supports they haven’t considered. You can effectively barter time, items and service, so consider how to make the most of any exchange you need. Be open to creating the space to receive by giving. 

READ MORE: In Detroit, grief runs deep as city grapples with COVID-19

Limit Maladaptive Coping Mechanisms. A glass of wine, a little online shopping, repetitive hook ups with “not the one” all feel good in the moment, or as a one-off, but relying on an external source for happiness or to lift your spirits typically ends with a greater crisis. Avoid the drama by selecting healthy ways to deal with your stressors such as exercise, meditation, great entertainment or new hobbies, instead of over indulging in quick fixes. 

Find Your Fun. Despite the challenges, this is still your real life. It’s a not a blip year. There are no do overs. The only happiness you will have is what you choose to work towards. Make the hard times easier by stacking the good ones. Carve out time to laugh with loved ones. Take care of your body. Be silly. Utilize your vacation days. Find places you can walk around. Enjoy road trips that allow you to getaway. Do what is necessary to make these moments count.

Want more tips? Check out theGrio’s Dear Culture on Apple Podcasts.

Tia Brown is a licensed therapist and life coach (rsgtherapy.com) who believes in love and the promise that it gives. Follow her on IG: @tiabrowntalks