Covid: Coping with long term changes

Covid: Coping with long term changes

The corona virus made sure 2020 will be remembered as the year of major upheavel and change. Lock downs are being reintroduced in some countries, extended in others. Whether we want to know it or not – our lives have changed forever. The virus is now a human virus and it won‘t go away. It will still be here next year and the year after. 

One thing corona taught us is that people can carry an invisible threat. Protecting ourselves has become our number one concern everyday. Changes that have probably come to stay are the regular washing of hands, wearing of masks when we are sick, thinking twice before we hug someone or shaking someone’s hands. We shall opt for meetings via the internet rather than in boardrooms, attend funerals via Zoom instead of packing a church and prefer working from home above going to a busy office block. We’ll tend to avoid crowded shopping centres and public transport. We won’t have family gatherings for the foreseeble future – out of fear that someone might be ill and contagious.

What is the effect of so many changes on us?

We experience major anxiety and stress because of loss:

  • Loss of our normal routines – for example a school year, going to work, just going shopping
  • Loss of physical connection with people – because they might make us ill.
  • Loss of hope that things might return to normal (can I ever leave my house again without a mask?)
  • Loss of freedom to move wherever we want (holidays, weekends away, visiting elderly parents)
  • Loss of believe in a government to protect us ( as covid cases soar and political leaders continue to make senseless decisions)
  • Loss of jobs /businesses
  • Loss of life ( when people we know or family members die of covid)
  • Loss of control ( i can’t choose anymore – the government chooses for me)
  • Loss of time ( when you work 7 days per week because you work from home, or because we have no idea of what the future now holds)

We are creatures of habit and routines give us the feeling of being in control. With major changes in routines our reaction  is often one of fight, flight or freeze because our brain experience change as danger.

How to cope with our new reality?

If you look at the list of losses above – develop a strategy to deal with each one that you struggle with.

For example:

Establish a new daily routine for yourself  –

  • Get up and get dressed, as if you are going to work or school.
  • Plan your next day and activities as you used to do before lock down.
  • Prepare and eat healthy meals at specific times during the day.
  • Prepare a space in your house for you to work or study.
  • Get enough exercise and sleep

Keep up your connection with family and friends

  • Make sure you connect with family or friends regularly via phone or videocalls, escpecially with elderly people who are often very alone and isolated.
  • Talk about things that matter – not just the weather. It helps to share the good and bad in our lives with each other. A simple question like ”What was good about your day” and then ”What was bad about your day” can encourage someone to share more about themselves.
  • It is okay to tell someone what you miss. What is hard for you during this time. It is better to be open and talk about issues, than to pretend they don’t exist.

Accept the fact that things will stay as they are for now

  • Don’t fight the changes. Fighting change only causes more frustation and anxiety. Think of covid being here as part of our lives permanently, instead of waiting and wishing for an end date. There is no end date. Accepting the reality can be prevent many disappointments.
  • Instead of a weekend away or holiday, plan activities for your family members that you can do in your home – like a pizza evening, a movie night, a games night. One thing lock down brought back is family time. Use it to bond.
  • Try and find meaning by keeping a daily journal on how you lived through covid and lock down. You can add drawings and write about stories that you hear via other people. Perhaps one day in the future your grandkids will share your stories about the pandemic with their children.

Give yourself time to grieve when you experience loss.

  • Many of us will lose loved ones due to covid. Some will die alone without us at their bedsides. You might not be able to attend the funeral. Make a point of keeping contact with family members during this time. If we carry one another during difficult times, we can make it through.
  • Do something special at your home to remember the person who passed away (a private ceremony, a tree planting,  a meal where everyone share what they remember about this person).

Be innovative and create new opportunities for yourself 

  • Do an online course or start a new hobby.
  • Teach your kids to cook.
  • Read books and have book discussions with other family members.
  • Think about what you can do to make the  lives of other people better during this time. There are so many people in need of help.

Be thank full everyday for what you have – even if it only your health. 

  • We often forget how blessed we are. Write 5 things down everyday that you are thankfull for.
  • Ask all family members to do that and share it during  mealtime.
  • It is normal to feel uneasy or gloomy some days. We after all only human and uncertainty unsettles most of us. Remember God is still in control. He’s got your back.



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