Coping with COVID-19 and Managing the Overflow

As I write this, I am thinking about how so many of my clients are already dealing with high levels of anxiety and now… this. What compounds the heaviness of it all is knowing that what we do to take care of ourselves has just gotten much more difficult to do with all of the current restrictions. Gyms, yoga studios, and the places where friends and family congregate are not currently as assessable, therefore limiting our ability to let go of all the added stress and to take care of ourselves. Without our ability to open the spillway, we are at risk of filling up and overwhelming the dam.

Staying out of the overflow requires us to revisit the places where we have found success previously along with observing what is working for the people around us. Here are some specific ideas on how to amplify your inherent ability to do what works:

Replace Behaviors

We have to be able to replace our coping skills with ones that are also effective in releasing stress and that can also amplify the intention of self-care. In order to do this, we first need to know what it is we are replacing. If you go to the gym make sure you are still finding ways to work out at home, do yoga, body weight exercise, or look at the countless fitness apps out there that are offering home workouts, tips, and continue to find ongoing inspiration.

Keep Your Routine

Whether your routine has changed or come to an abrupt stop it is important to keep one for yourself. Routine is soothing to our system and creates a sense of effectivenss through times of heightened anxiety and helplessness. In addition, we can be intentional about making time for self-care, connection with others, and purposeful action when we are mindful about creating a routine that includes all of these things. Balance is always difficult regardless of our circumstance so stay intentional.

Put It On The Shelf

No one can be in the “stuff” all the time. We have to be able to put it on the shelf whether you are struggling with COVID-19, experiencing the fallout on a personal level, or you are anxious about the future. Otherwise, we may be at risk of feeling perpetually overwhelmed and eventually split in two. Although there are times you may still get caught in the flood despite your best efforts, do your best to put it away when you need to. Acknowledge your feelings with whatever comes up but then do what you need to distract yourself and put it away for a time. Turn off the news and put down your phone on a regular basis.

Borrow Strength

You can see signs of panic everywhere right now so strive to find the stories of hope, kindness, faith, and connection that are happening all around the world. I am struck by the stories of people helping others in their communities and how messages of faith and gratitude are spreading everywhere. Inspire hope. True compassion is one of the greatest healers and it is most certainly bigger than all of this. Know that you can borrow strength from others around you until you can find it for yourself if you need to. They will more than likely gladly lend it to you. At some point the waters will become calm once again, but for now be intentional about opening the spillways to prevent overflow, create a new routine, borrow strength, and remember always that you are not alone.

Clear Reflections

Make a list of your effective habits and behaviors. What are the things you typically do to take care of yourself, to deal with stress, and to take care of your overall physical and mental well being? Make a new list that includes the things that you can still do along with some new replacement behaviors that you can begin doing to continue to avoid getting caught in the overflow. Start now.

Write about your current routine. Be sure to incorporate balance to the best of your ability in your routine that includes self-care, connection, and a sense of purpose.

What are stories of kindness, compassion, faith, and/or hope that can inspire your own acts of compassion? What is the compassion you have for yourself? For others?

Who do you see around you that you see as effective in coping with the current state of things? What traits do they embody that you can emulate? Do what they do.

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