What I'm Learning While Surviving a Pandemic
COVID-19 has presented us with a very unique situation, “social distancing”. Almost everyone worldwide if not everyone has been affected in some way, shape, or form by this very contagious virus. It has forced many countries to put in place restrictions, businesses to shut down, employers to lay off or furlough employees, and individuals to “shelter in place”. Through this unique experience we are learning a lot about ourselves, the people closest to us, and the world around us. I would like to share the things I’m learning while surviving this pandemic in hopes that others can relate and feel somewhat comforted about their situation.
1. The world is anxiety driven.
This Pandemic has exposed a lot about the way people react to uncertainty. From the very beginning there has been a rapid spread of misinformation. Experts on infectious diseases have been educating the public as they are learning more. The information we are learning is scary and it has only created more hysteria. There are myths about how the disease is contracted, promotions of “magical” cures, and government conspiracy theories. Not only is this kind of information ignorant, it’s dangerous and it has potentially damaging effects. Besides misinformation spreading just as fast as the virus, it seems people now have the perfect excuse to hoard food, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and other essential products.
…Then there is the total disregard for human life in order to save the economy. Many big businesses, billionaires, and politicians are more concerned about the economy (which is fully capable of recovering from this pandemic) then they are about saving lives. Yes, this too is a form of anxiety. People are pushing to return to work because, let’s face it, everyone has bills to pay and America’s reputation has been largely based on how well the economy is doing. Many law makers and big businesses are very concerned about how this pandemic may impact America’s future and the ability to maintain business relations oversees, as well as the length of time it will take for the country to recover.
2. Society performs well under pressure.
People are not used to having so much time on their hands, and most aren’t sure what to do with it. We have been conditioned to maintain a routine. Routines allow us feel a sense of normalcy, helps us to feel productive, and provides structure. For many, the routine of life has been disrupted and we are struggling to maintain some sort of structure. For some people this causes anxiety or a nagging sensation that we should be doing more with this free time, BUT there is no pressure to get anything done. So, what do we do? We (procrastinate) find time to relax, and prioritize less. Some people have invested time in exploring new hobbies, spending time with their families, and self-improvement. I hear many benefits of having the free time from some of my clients as well as the disadvantages. Being at home has created somewhat of a lax attitude while we are starting to adjust to this “new normal”.
3. COVID-19 is taking a heavy toll on society psychologically.
Lay-offs, financial hardships, isolation, death, agoraphobia, and the mental effects of being sick. These are sudden and stressful changes that no one could have prepared to deal with in advance. Sudden change, uncertainty, fear, and isolation are the perfect storm for a host of many emotional and mental issues. People are experiencing a new level of anxiety, depression, and trauma and it’s affecting adults and children alike. While many therapist, coaches, and counselors are still able to provide services online, some people don’t have the resources or the privacy to receive therapy. Even if talk therapy is not option, its important to know there are other resources available.
4. Quarantining is testing our patience and our relationships.
Although you love your family or significant other; spending so much time together can feel smothering, annoying, and frustrating at times. For most people school, work, and other obligations allowed some much-needed time away from our loved ones. These places also serve as outlets and allow people to distress. Parents throughout the country have stepped into the role of being educators in addition to working from home while still having to parent; it can be stressful trying to balance three hats at once. As far as intimate relationships, an extended amount of time with your partner can reveal some pretty annoying and disturbing traits you may have overlooked before. According to some researchers, there may be a spike in divorce rates once the pandemic has ended. However, for some families, the quarantine is creating stronger relationships while bringing people closer together which brings me to my final point…
4. This time can help us develop an attitude of gratitude.
Many of my clients share how grateful they are for their health, being able to work from home, and the increased support from friends and family. In general, the pandemic has created a great sense of appreciation for front line workers such as doctors, nurses, techs, grocery store clerks, restaurant employees, pharmacies, mail and delivery services and many more. These are the people that are keeping society above float as well as risking their health and even their lives so we can have the essentials that we need. Although these individuals are the few that still go out to work every day, this time is just as hard for them as it is for anyone else; remember we’re all in this together. Not having access to some of the non-essential products and services that we took for granted prior to the pandemic has also created a new sense of appreciation. Although it is good to maintain a positive mindset throughout this time, remember to be self-forgiving if you feel frustrated, angry, or sad. This is a difficult experience for everyone.