Coronavirus Quarantine Anxiety
Navigating COVID-19 Quarantine – Stress, Anxiety & You
Has the coronavirus quarantine and its accompanying anxiety thrust you into a morass of colliding feelings? Are you visited by strange bedfellows of disorientation, uncertainty and insecurity? This global pandemic has turned our world upside down. We are reminded to make the WE a top priority. Thus, we are being asked to quarantine at home.
But as we all know, it is for too easy to lose sight of what needs be done by the WE, which is, all of us working together, as we venture forth into a world that seems only remotely familiar.
Mental Health During The Coronavirus Outbreak
While home observing the COVID-19 quarantine guidelines and maintaining social distancing have you had a difficult time focusing on topics that in the past you have been razor sharp in your approach? Has any semblance of clarity on your mounting business, familial and financial pressures been lost in what feels like a cloud of white noise? Have you wondered how this is impacting your mental health and stability? Often at these times it is difficult to hear the distant refrain from civic and religious leaders.
It is based on the application of current data analyses of the variables surrounding this blight on our world and quarantine in our communities . This refrain calls upon us to focus on the WE, rather than the ME, to bring the COVID-19 pandemic in check. The net effect of this is generally anxiety-producing at best and often traumatizing.
We know it can be challenging to implement the social distancing guidelines and recommendations presented by the medical professionals and government leaders.
Have you noticed that despite your best efforts, you have felt compromised by your reaction patterns to the unexpected? Have you felt catapulted into a world of acutely different social exigencies when you were just beginning to get a handle on things? Do you find yourself worrying about your physical health and well-being or your emotional resilience? It is all too common for mental health issues to bleed into our thoughts, challenge our stability. and traumatize us. For many people on the front lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a often encountered sequelae. A seasoned Emergency Room doctor told his colleagues that he had never experienced anything like this in his entire career.
You are not alone, but rather in good company! This “beast,” as the frontline workers refer to as the coronavirus, has shaken the very foundation of our world. What we thought of as rock solid and stable appear more precarious and unpredictable than ever. Even the places where we would go to for solace and support are no longer available to us. Our churches, synagogues, beaches or mountain trails, family members and best friends are off limits because of the social distancing guidelines.
With the goal of keeping one another safe, these restrictions simultaneously keep our familiar places and people away from us. Most know how especially nurturing and stabilizing it is to stay connected through whatever means our life circumstances permit. For some the phone, cell or landline, is the modality of choice; for others the comfortable connections come through FACETIME, ZOOM or other social media. What is of primary importance is that we remain connected to one another, whether it is our family, our “chosen” family or our colleagues. Our faces, feelings, histories and hearts are the glue that bind us together! In order to move beyond the ME toward nurturing the WE, most of us would benefit from tackling our individual “beast.”
Are you struggling with nagging questions regarding the challenges you had hoped were addressed successfully? Are you worried that perhaps they were abandoned abruptly? It’s understandable if you find yourself vacillating between feeling numb and frozen and then confused and lost. Do you find yourself questioning your mental health?
Regardless of where your feelings fall on this continuum of emotions, it is important for you to recognize that it is OK to feel whatever you are feeling. The coronavirus quarantine has put us into very unfamiliar territory. There is no right or wrong when it comes to feelings. However, what we do with these feelings can be right or wrong, problem-solving or problem creating.
While we are confronted by dizzying questions surrounding this pandemic, many important decisions need to be held in abeyance. I’d like to ask you to be kind to yourself, as well as those with whom you interact. Do your best to be gentle and to work with what you have right now, whether it is with family members you are interacting with in person or with coworkers on a teleconference call. Your strength and resilience will resurface or unfold anew, but you need to give yourself time to digest what is occurring.
A World Of Anxiety
Have you found yourself attempting to figure out what just happened or why it occurred? Remember, it is easy to feel confused, anxious, depressed, frightened or challenged in a matter of minutes. While our world has become restricted to our homes, our emotional lives can feel as though the boundaries have become fluid!
Becoming aware of the rush of feelings is the beginning of learning how to identify them, to develop new ways of dealing with them, and to develop new problems-solving skills as a result of the challenges. We grow not from the easy times, but rather from those situations where we are challenged and need to find new ways to approach them. It is here that opportunities for growth and creativity present themselves.
Growth comes only from mistakes and problem-solving, not from complacency and coddling. While none of us wanted this pandemic to come upon us, our country or our world, this is where we are. Clearly it did not impact every continent by expanding in a vacuum. So now let’s do all we can to bring our lives, families, society and world to a more balanced place.
By working on our individual strengths and resistances to change, i.e. the ME, we can effectively lock arms in productive, responsible and grounded living that needs be the core of the WE.
How can you use this time of tremendous change, challenges and the forming of a New Normal to improve the quality of your life and the lives of others?
Your emotional, spiritual and interpersonal growth can contribute to a healthier, kinder world for each of us to live in and contribute to.
How Are You Handling The Coronavirus Pandemic?
When we initially came up against this interloper in our lives, few of us were prepared for the deep and pervasive impact the COVID-19 pandemic would have. Many had the perspective that this was an interim glitch which could be utilized productively. All we needed to do was move through our to-do lists. Others saw it as a long weekend that extended into an unplanned vacation. However, all too soon most realized that we were in uncharted territory, which soon resulted in emotional distress and feelings of insecurity.
How long did it take you to start criticizing yourself as you wandered through the morass of social media? On first glance it looked as though people were relaxing and going with the flow. Were you wondering how it was that your “friends” seemed to be using their time productively and moving through their lists of procrastinated tasks in MACH3 speed? As you examined your inconsequential use of endless time did you find yourself questioning how it was that you really couldn’t get your act together?
It is important for all of us to remember that despite what social media communicates, most people are experiencing an array challenging emotions which make it difficult to function. Stress, anxiety and depression make it a struggle to stay focused and bring projects to closure. Many feel stunned and dizzy in the tidal wave of overwhelming feelings. Remember, there is nothing normal about the stay-at-home directive. We are a people who are accustomed largely to doing whatever we choose, regardless of whether or not it is most prudent, wise or respectful to do so. For those of us living in major metropolitan cities this is especially pronounced.
Slipping into a self-defeating pattern of self-criticism and judgment is all too easy. If you look outwards toward others to determine a benchmark for what you should be doing and how you should be feeling you will create your own recipe for heightened anxiety, stress and depression. Are you prone to criticizing yourself and questioning your judgment? Remember, it is highly likely that your current self-criticism did not surface in a vacuum, but rather is an exacerbation of your feelings about yourself and your functioning. This pattern is self-perpetuating and can lead you into a downward spiral of self-recrimination and heightened anxiety. The problem is that the more you become locked in this vicious cycle the more your ability to function effectively will be compromised. The only way out of this cycle is to go through it to the other side.
You may wonder how to get from where you are, feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, despondent and unstable, to a better place. A good beginning is to be kind to yourself and accepting of where you are. Put your recriminations onto the back burner of life at this time. They can always be addressed at another time either on your own or with a therapist.
Start each day with the intent to be as constructive and positive in your outlook as you can. I’m not suggesting you become a Pollyanna, but rather take a good look at the tragedy that this coronavirus has caused. The name is very misleading. Up until a couple of months ago the common cold, a corona virus, was considered by most lay people as annoying, distracting and predictably present during the winter season. Little did we know that its cousin COVID-19 could be vicious, transmitted in almost MACH3 speed, and unbiased in its onslaught! Certainly the range of tragedies is vast, compassion among us is the key to opening the door to a better tomorrow, and this is possible only as we begin to be kind to ourselves.
At the other end of our day it is helpful just as you are falling asleep to say out loud three things for which you are grateful. Keep it simple and take note of what has brought a smile to your face or joy in your heart, such as, wildflowers, new growth on a lawn or shrub, fresh fallen snow, a child laughing, an elderly person smiling, a breath of fresh air. It can start with you and then from there you can pay it forward in a manner that is right for you.
If you would like to explore the above questions or related ones, call Dr. Maryann Schaefer at 516-627-1145 to schedule a complimentary consultation.