Coping with COVID-19

Coping with COVID-19

This pandemic has brought about uncertain times.  Unfamiliar circumstances can be stressful when we are accustomed to a predictable life.   However, we are all facing this unchartered territory together.  Every day that we continue to face the daily challenges of providing for ourselves and our families while also staying safe is a demonstration of our ability to adapt.


We must recognize that this process of coping and adapting to these conditions places extraordinary demands on our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual states of being.  Because of this, we must attend to our well being and adopt best practices for optimum self-care.


It is understandable how these uncertain times can trigger anxiety and fear.  But when our ongoing fearful and anxious thoughts persist it put unnecessary strain on our nervous system’s survival mode.  Our nervous system triggers our adrenal glands to secrete stress hormones of Cortisol, Epinephrine, and Norepinephrine.  This optimizes our ability to fight, run, or hid.  But in our circumstances, there is nowhere to run.  It is like putting the foot on the gas in our car at the same time we put our foot on the brake.  If these stress hormones are released continuously it will wear down our body’s resources and weaken our immune system.  It is essential that our immune system is healthy as it is vital to ward off viral infections such as COVID-19.  Therefore, it is in our best interest to calm down, relax, and follow best practices for remaining safe.


Minimize the number of times you go out to shop for food.  If you must leave your home practice social distancing, washing your hands, wearing a mask, and gloves.   Disinfect any items you bring into the home.  Be educated about cross contaminations (YouTube) so that you do not bring any contaminants into your home.


You may want to be vigilant and stay informed about what is going on with the pandemic but be mindful of how much time you spend gathering information from TV, radio, and the internet. Beyond awareness, this kind of stimulation can cause stress with a cumulative effect on you and those around you.


Fear and anxiety can show up in the form of worrying or repeated thoughts of worst-case scenarios. Be aware of body tension, irritability, agitation, feeling on edge, short-tempered, tearfulness, angry outbursts as they are all signs of stress building to unmanageable levels.


It is understandable that you may show these signs of stress.  If they appear take a few deep breaths.  Take some time alone so that you can breathe and relax.  Increase your attention to what thoughts you may be entertaining in your mind.  If they are negative fearful thoughts do what you can to redirect to positive ones.  Take your mind off of the future-oriented “What ifs” and focus on the present moment.  Focus on people and things that you are grateful for and thoughts that bring you joy.  Focus on what is within your control and let go of those that are beyond your control.


It is important to eat nutritional foods, drink lots of liquids, add extra doses of vitamin C and D, exercise, and get plenty of sleep.  Avoid alcohol and drugs as they tend to weaken our immune system.  You may want to limit caffeine and nicotine as they are stimulants that can contribute to anxiety and interfere with sleep.


Be creative in establishing a new version of routine activities that restore a sense of control and predictability.


Reach out to others by phone or the internet and share thoughts and feelings.  This can be beneficial for all to express what you may be holding onto inside.  While of course conditions related to the pandemic will come up, the value of the connection will be enhanced greatly if you can shift your attention to positive things in your lives as well.


Counteract stressors by spending time in meditation, prayer, reading a book, yoga, artwork, listening or playing music, working in the garden, starting a project, an online course, playing games, watching comedy movies, laughter, and breath.


For those of you who are now working at home, be sure to give yourself some latitude on your level of productivity.   Do not expect to be operating at 100%. You often have routines when you go to work.  These routines, condition you to be ready to go when you arrive in that predictable setting.  Staying at home comes with many potential distractions, especially when there are children, partners, or pets around.  Create clearly defined boundaries by establishing the best times and space to conduct your work.  Be understanding to those loved ones who want your attention now that you are home.  Calmly explain the new guidelines that you are expecting.  Also, be prepared for some interruptions never the less.  Your coworkers sometimes interrupt you at work so show your loved ones similar patience.


For those of you who are in recovery, be aware of urges to use.  Remain diligent with your relapse prevention practices.  For the rest of you, be aware of your tendencies to cope with habitual behaviors so they don’t intensify beyond your control.


There is also the probability that you or someone you know will lose a loved one due to the virus.  Grieving the loss of loved one comes with its own additional set of challenges, especially when social distancing is essential.  It then becomes a matter of facing that added challenge with the same courage, compassion, and resiliency at deeper levels, like so many others.


The old adage “If it doesn’t kill you it will make you stronger” comes to mind at this time.  I have learned that when I lost my mother and father, as much grief as it caused, I also found the inner strength that came afterward.  With their passing, I grew to recognize the wisdom I gained: That life is short, to live it to the fullest, that I must be grateful for those who remain and love them with all of my heart so I have no regrets when we too must part.  I also discovered that by facing tough challenges and continuing to move forward, I become more resilient and defined.


Taking 100% Responsibility for Your Life

If you are going to take personal responsibility for your life and want to change the distressing conditions in your life you may want to consider these ideas.

Einstein famously said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” 

Dr. Joe Dispenza who promotes the quantum model of healing and change, comments on Einstein’s quote by saying, “This means you’d have to reach a greater level of consciousness or awareness than the one that’s actually reinforcing it.”

He goes on to explain, “…If you can’t get beyond (your problems, challenges, conditions, and adversities in your life), that means every single day you are bringing the same level of mind to your problem or challenge. Said more simply, every day you are thinking about your problem in the same exact way. That’s because, based on your past experience, you have a neurological network in your brain associated with every known person, object, thing, or place at a certain time in your life. In a sense, when you think about those problems or challenges you are thinking in the past.

For every one of those thoughts (or memories) associated with the problem or person, there is an associated emotion, and emotions are the chemical end products of past experiences. If how you think and how you feel creates your state of being, then your reaction to the conditions and problems in your life only serves to reaffirm the same body, mind, thoughts, feelings, actions, and reactions equal to the problem. Thus, the stronger the emotional reaction you have to the problem or condition, the more you pay attention to it. We could say then you are contributing to the problem because you are giving it your attention and thus your energy. Why? Because where you place your attention is where you place your energy, therefore you might be keeping the problems or challenges in your life with your attention or awareness. As a result, you’re giving your very life force—your power to create—away to that problem. That’s the energy you could be using to heal or create a different future reality.”

This is a lot to consider.  Taking 100% responsibility for your life, in and of itself, is a big step. Once you can get your head wrapped around that notion, the question then is how committed are you to making the changes that are necessary for the desired results.  It is important to be crystal clear of what your life will look like when change occurs.  You already have a good idea of what happens if things don’t change.  

The Process of Change Within Your Marriage

Revising marital systems require some destabilization. Often when doing meaningful work in counseling, things seem to become worse or more painful before they get better. In the same way that a remodel of a kitchen in your home where things are likely to become disorganized and in disarray until the project comes together. The magnitude of the psychological impact that a kitchen remodel job would be small however, in comparison to making significant revisions in a marital system. Those of us who relish the comfort and avoid pain might find this somewhat distressing. After all, the reason that most people seek help from a professional in the first place is with hopes that they can make all the conflict and pain stop. However, in order for any sane person who would want to commit to counseling that might cause problems to become more intense before they got better would have to have a clearer understanding of the reason why this happens.

Remodeling your relationship isn’t always easy

I will offer the best explanation of why this disarray occurs. Let us take for instance a couple whose struggles with a seemingly endless conflict that resurfaces repeatedly. The repetition that occurs is due to the two individual’s collective abilities to handle the matter in as many, or few, ways as their problem-solving skills allow. When people reach their limits of abilities to creatively solve their problems and can no longer tolerate the personal difficulties it causes, they resort to methods that only seemed to entangle their knot even tighter. Meanwhile, whatever thoughts conflicted partner has of their mate only becomes reinforced and more solidified.

Things begin to shift once a couple is confronted with their respective ways of dealing with these matters in the underlying meaning of it all. That is, shifts happen when one or both individuals become aware of what they are doing, along with the realization that it is themselves that contribute equally to the ongoing conflicts.

Effective counseling has an impact

The impact of effective relationship consultation will result in multiple shifting amongst the marital system. There is essentially a destabilization of what the individuals in this system have come to expect and experience as familiar. In normal human beings, a destabilization such as this would be compared to the anxiety that is experienced when things are beyond our control, far beyond a kitchen remodel job and more like an earthquake of significant proportion. In many ways, even though couples may complain about their ongoing struggles with one another they also have grown accustomed to these familiar and rather predictable behaviors.

It is common for one partner to feel uneasy and react when the other begins to show signs of movement or progress of some sort. It is also common that when someone feels anxious about whatever changes are taking place they may unwittingly sabotage the progress by causing some sort of disruption. These instinctual impulses are designed to bring the system back into alignment with what has been familiar, relatively stable, and safe.

All the work is worth it

Keep in mind, that change is anything but comfortable and can initially be felt as discomfort until it becomes more understood and familiar. It is the reaching of a relatively healthier happier plateau in each individual’s development that promotes the mutual comforts and pleasures that these changes hopefully will bring as time goes on.