Managing Well-Being

We are all currently living in an environment of ever-changing reports on the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on many aspects of our lives. Many of us watch with a mix of anxiety and an unquenchable thirst for information. The 24-hour news cycle and rapid yet sometimes unreliable social media stream feed our “fear of missing out”. Unfortunately, all of this can be detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being.


Here are some helpful tips to assist you in caring for your mental health and well-being.

  1. Check the news once per day
  2. Follow the recommendations, but don’t go overboard
  3. Focus on the evidence
  4. Think of common-sense precautions to take
  5. Focus on helping others

What else can I do to support myself?

  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take media breaks. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to help you return to your normal life.
  • Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member.
  • Maintain healthy relationships.
  • Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.

Manage Anxiety More Effectively

Anxiety is our bodies’ natural protective response to a perceived threat.

Many times, our brains act as little risk managers, constantly assessing possible dangers and attempting to come up with the best possible response to each perceived hazard. However, periodically, our risk management skills may need some fine tuning if we start to find ourselves over or under-estimating perceived threats and exhibiting excessive anxieties.


Navigating Your Grief Journey

While we often associate grief with loss by death, any type of loss can trigger grief. The current pandemic has resulted in many losses, including loss of contact with others, loss of “normal” routines, loss of recreation, loss of security and many more, perhaps including the death of loved ones. Some may be experiencing anticipatory grief, or the feeling that greater loss is yet to come. This can result in a spike in anxiety which is addressed in another resource on this web page. Other feelings or challenges that may arise in this pandemic include guilt, lack of closure, loss of traditions or feelings of isolation.

The oft-cited steps in the grief process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) may inaccurately suggest that grief is a nice neat checklist through which we progress and discard once completed. This is never true, as grief can be a convoluted and repeated process in “typical” times, let alone in times like this where change and loss are ongoing and ever-changing.

The following are some signs that you might be coping with grief related to the pandemic:

  • Trouble focusing on normal tasks
  • Sleeping much more or less than usual
  • Feelings of anger and irritability
  • Headaches and upset stomach
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Re-experiencing feelings of past grief
  • Engaging in activities such as eating, drinking, or online shopping to cope with anxiety
  • Avoiding thinking or talking about the pandemic

Below are some helpful ways to utilize mindfulness to take care of yourself should you experience grief.

Six Mindful Strategies to Recover from Trauma, Loss & Change

  1. Reach out for support: Don’t try to bear your trauma alone. Ask for assistance from your friends, spiritual leaders, support groups and professionals.
  2. Sit quietly and reflect: No matter the severity of your trauma, sit quietly and ask yourself, “Historically, have I experienced other challenges in my life and how did I navigate through them?” Now use these past experiences to tap into your internal courage and strength while exploring if you can implement the same strategies again.
  3. Trust your inner resources: Once you realize that you survived other traumas before now, trust in yourself to know that you can get through your present challenge.
  4. Learn to keep yourself centered through the unbearable feelings of grief: When the waves of sadness and helplessness wash over you, initially allow yourself to feel the emotion and its depth. Then start to breathe through the grief with slow deep breaths. This will help you stay grounded and bring you back to the present.
  5. Start imagining a new life: Even though you are experiencing immense grief, start to imagine and invent in your mind’s eye a new future for yourself.
  6. Practice mindfulness: While doing grounding practices such as meditation, yoga, or even walks in nature, remember that your loss is cyclical like the seasons. Even when we are in the depths of winter we know that eventually it will become more manageable with the advent of summer. Learn to tolerate and pace yourself through the most severe times. Many of us admire people like Al Gore, who found his road to the White House suddenly blocked and chose to focus on educating people about global warming, and Christopher Reeve, who left acting behind after becoming a quadriplegic and went on to become a film director and advocate for those suffering from spinal cord injuries. Both were able to let go of the past and transform their lives. You, too, can tap into your inner courage, move forward with your life and even reinvent yourself.

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