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COVID-19 And Coping With Life Interrupted

COVID-19 And Coping With Life Interrupted

By Susan Williams

As a result of COVID-19, everyone’s daily lives have been impacted.

Not only in our regular routines such as going to work or getting groceries but many of our other life activities have also been impacted. For example weddings have been postponed, graduation ceremonies have gone virtual, retirement plans delayed and our bucket list plans suspended.

This situation may cause people to be frustrated or even anxious with having their lives and plans interrupted.

To help better us manage and cope with this situation, in this Learning Bites segment I am delighted to welcome back Dr. Sean Hayes. Dr. Hayes is a Clinical Psychologist and Co-Founder of Cohaesio to share some suggestions on what we can do.

Here is our conversation;

** Please note; this information is intended for strictly informational purposes only. You should always consult your healthcare practitioner for advice regarding your personal situation. **

These are some of the highlights of our discussion;

How do we manage with the continuing limitations and restrictions being placed on our lives?

  • First we need to face that fact that many of these limitations may not actually go away and for many people this may be the first time that they have had to deal with a chronic stressor
  • We may have experienced acute stress (for example death, divorce, job loss) but in these situations there is some type of ending. COVID-19 is a different type of stressor. It is chronic and no one knows when it will necessarily end so as a result the restrictions and limitations may also not disappear
  • Dr. Hayes shared an analogy of these two different types of stress;
    • Acute stress is like an elastic band that springs back
    • Chronic stress is like an elastic band that has been stretched too long, too frequently, too intensely so that it loses it’s resilience and doesn’t snap back to it’s original shape

What are some actions we can take to feel better about our current situation?

  • We need to focus on reestablishing our resiliency. We need to refocus away from our losses and vulnerabilities onto our strengths. There are still key aspects to who and what we are that are strong and have not changed. Look for the half full rather then the half empty.
  • Also, listen for your own negative self talk (women tend to do this more then men). We have a tendency to constantly question ourselves. This negative talk tends to reinforce our negative impression of the world and what we can’t do.
  • Find pleasure in the little things that give you a sense of security and normalcy about the simplicity of life. For example, listening to very predictive music or watching media or reading books that are familiar can help reinforce a sense of good about ourselves while also providing a pleasant experience.
  • Also, although many people are extremely goal and accomplishment oriented, this may be the time to relax on this focus while we adjust to our lives

How do we manage dealing with major life events we were looking forward to that we possibly can’t do right now?

  • First recognize your emotions around the situation – for instance if you are angry or feel betrayed given this is something outside your control.
  • We need to formally mourn this feeling of loss. Say farewell to the things that are changed and then look to creating new ones.
  • Then consider what did these dreams mean to you? What did they represent?
  • For example, if a dream vacation meant adventure or doing something different, what else could you do now that could replace this? Could you take a trip closer to home to a place you haven’t gone before?
  • Find other ways to create things to look forward to so it doesn’t feel that you have just given up something and have nothing else to replace it.
  • Remember, it’s not even necessarily executing the new activities, it is just thinking about them and planning for them that often helps us have something to look forward to. It’s the act of envisioning new possibilities that will help.
  • Also consider ways to support or give back to others. This in itself can help you feel better.
  • Even though many people are calling this our “new normal” – we probably should drop this reference as it reinforces the idea of a better life before versus living the life we have now. So rather then thinking about what you have lost or had to give up, reframe your thinking to what you have and what you can do.

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Susan Williams is the Founder of Booming Encore. Being a Boomer herself, Susan loves to discover and share ways to live life to the fullest. She shares her experiences, observations and opinions on living life after 50 and tries to embrace Booming Encore's philosophy of making sure every day matters.
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