COPING WITH COVID-19

COPING WITH COVID-19

Maxine A. Bradshaw, Ph.D., Professor and Chair
Psychology and Counseling
Traditional Undergraduate Program

We are living in perilous times and many yearn for the return to normalcy. Can you remember when your concerns could be summed up in the cares for what you will eat, or what you will drink, what you will wear (Matthew 6:25); and other non-life threatening concerns? But “normal” stress as we know it is replaced by a new Reality. Jane Wagner once wrote; “Reality is the leading cause of stress amongst those in touch with it.”

When the news of the ravages of COVID 19 in Wuhan, China hit the airwaves, it seemed so far removed from our reality. This was half-way across the globe. The impact of the spread of this pandemic within other countries seemed a safe distance away from us. While we empathized with their plights, we could not conceive how their lives must have been torn apart. The news that the COVID 19 virus reached the shores of the United States seemed to send shockwaves in the tapestry of the psyche of America. This pandemic levelled the playing field, having no respect for age, gender, religion, socio-economic status or race, and political affiliations. Now, survival mode dictates that we practice social distancing and stay indoors. Indeed, the social structures that once brought solace, such as family gatherings, social hangouts, Church services, contacts with peers at school, and our Colleagues at work have been replaced by a virtual reality.

So how do we manage during these perilous times? In addition to the recommendations to wash your hands regularly, restrain from touching your face, remain at home and practice social distancing, here are some other helpful tips:

1. Monitor your thoughts. When you realize that your thoughts are thoughts of despair and gloom, make a conscious effort to refocus your thoughts. Reflect on the challenges you have overcome in the past and encourage yourself with the assurance that you are an overcomer.

2. Practice self-care. Do not lounge around all day in pajamas. Get up, get dressed and do something “for you” that you have longed and wanted to do but did not have the time.

3. Pamper yourself and do so often. Smother yourself in a long intoxicating luxurious bath with your favorite aroma. Enjoy the silence or listen to

your favorite music. Remember this is your alone time to focus on you. Complete a manicure or pedicure regimen. Or eat your favorite dessert or meal in moderation. Remember the aim is not to gain weight, but to enjoy a much needed treat.

4. Change the mood in your home. Watch a comedy or some cartoons with the children and remember the days of innocent bliss.

a. Do a family circle with a chair in the center. Have one person sit in the chair with the other taking turns trying to make the person laugh. The person who held off the laughter longest wins. You will be amazed at the fun you will have in trying to make someone laugh.

b. Start a Story. One person begins a story and each person adds on to the story. Take turns until it is finished. (Depending on the size of the family, each person may add to the story multiple times. Example. First person: Once upon a time I was walking on the beach and heard a strange sound. Second Person: I looked towards the direction of where I heard the sound and saw a bright light. Etc.)

c. Grateful log. Discuss things for which you are grateful.

d. Plan an imaginary trip that you would take if money and time were unlimited. Enjoy the dream and live in the moment of imagined bliss.

5. Exercise: Just Move. Dance to your favorite music.

Science shows that moving our bodies stimulates the creation of norepinephrine and dopamine. These chemicals energize and elevate one’s mood.

6. Practice regular wellness checks where you contact friends, families, and co-workers. Try to use a medium where you can have a visual connection, either through Zoom, Google meets, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger.

7. Post inspirational messages on social media. This will spread the love, instill hope and build faith. Or listen to inspirational messages and music.

8. Pray, and then pray some more. Tap into your faith. In prayer, tell the Lord your concerns and believe He hears you and He is concerned about the things that concerns you.

9. Read the Bible more. Give yourself a challenge to memorize at least one passage of Scripture daily. The Word of God is a solace against the daily onslaught of news of gloom.

10. Have Hope. Be encouraged by the fact that there is a time and season for everything. This test too, will pass. Plan how you will celebrate the end of this season in your life and how you will adapt to the new normal in your situation.

11. Journal your thoughts. Some of your thoughts may be the idea for your book yet to be written.

12. Take a moment to get a breath of fresh air. Be innovative. This may be done by standing by an open window, on the porch, or take a brisk walk around the home or property. Remember to practice social distancing as you do this walk.

13. Keep abreast of the requirements of the online classroom. You do not want to exacerbate an already stressful situation by falling behind on your school work