The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we view the world and live our lives, how we relate to others, and how we do our work. We lack clear answers about what to think and what to do, how the virus spreads and how it can be contained, how it impacts the economy, and how long it will take before life goes back to normal, or will things ever go back to normal.
One of the more difficult parts of this pandemic is the social isolation as social connectedness is an essential condition for human life. Long ago Aristotle wrote that “Man is by nature a social animal … Society is something that precedes the individual.” People need people.
I enjoy my work and as much as I like seeing my patients in the flesh, across the room, and feeling their energy, for the time-being as part of the social distancing, I am doing video therapy exclusively. While it is different and can take a little adjusting to, video therapy can and does work. It requires only a computer or phone with enough bandwidth or data to use the camera and audio settings.
One of my patients told me, “I’ve given thought to how the pandemic is bothering me. There is this background hum of a dissonant chord. It is uncomfortable and unnerving, and it won’t go away.” Even so, it is forcing him to take a different view, literally. He is a photographer by trade and it is his passion for photography that is helping him transform his run away thoughts and fears into something creative and rewarding. He said, “I have to stay present when photographing the flower because once picked, it has limited life.”
Of course you may not be a photographer but you can still find relief by staying present and mindful. Here are a few thoughts and simple strategies to keep in mind while coping with the stress of the pandemic and social isolation.
- Begin your day with intention. Take a moment to think about how to organize your day.
- Meditate, do yoga, listen to quiet music, or breathe slowly and deeply.
- Exercise for at least 15 minutes a day. Even a brisk walk will do.
- Show compassion for yourself and others.
- Eat well. Don’t worry about “dieting” but rather concern yourself with healthy eating habits.
- Stay in touch with people who are important to you.
- Watch a TV show or YouTube video you think is funny.
- Take a break from social media.