Is It Possible To Thrive Within the Pandemic?
It’s hard to believe, but the one-year mark of when we went into a global lockdown is quickly approaching. While entering year two doesn’t exactly carry the excitement of New Year’s Eve, it does provide a time for reflection both on the past year and what we hope for in the year to come. Take a moment to ask yourself how you’re doing. Most of us, I believe, will say we’re surviving, we’re managing, we’re keeping our heads above water. This is obviously not the quality of life any of us want or work towards. While thriving during this ongoing pandemic sounds a bit extreme, even for me, what if there was a way to do more than simply tread water. Is there a way we can look back on our time in quarantine and feel accomplished along with gratitude that we’re no longer in that time period? Just to be clear, I’m not talking about learning another language, writing a novel or learning 10 new skill sets. I’m simply speaking of being able to look back and feel that we did more during this time that just made it through. However, making it through, in itself, is quite an accomplishment. Below, three separate ways to comfortably move through the rest of the pandemic are discussed.
Practice Realistic Optimism
For a long time, it was very difficult to be or feel optimistic. Living through one historical event after another, all while stuck at home is and was incredibly draining to say the least. Many of us continue to have difficulty feeling hopeful or optimistic about the future when things have felt so bleak for so long. However, we’ve reached a point where there is light at the end of the tunnel. People are being vaccinated. Infection levels have decreased as have death rates. ICU hospitalizations are continuing to go down as more and more individuals are finding their ways to immunity. The tunnel may be long, but the light is there. Remaining realistic allows us to set reasonable expectations, preventing us from setting ourselves up for disappointment. In a year that has felt consistently disappointing, it’s important we continue to protect ourselves. However, in a seemingly nonstop negative news cycle, there are more and more instances of encouraging and hopeful news. Now that we can see the light, I find myself asking how I want to spend the remaining months left in quarantine. Are there things I want to do? Ways I’d like to invest in myself and others? These questions allow me to view this remaining time in a more positive light. How does knowing there’s an end change how we view the present? My hope is it allows us to be more positive, appreciative and grateful of the things we’ve lost and the things we’ve gained.
I think we can all agree we’ve reached a level of exhaustion we didn’t know was possible. I’ve heard it referred to as a pandemic wall. If that’s the case I ran into that wall full force. With so many changes happening so quickly, our body struggles to keep up leading to decreased energy levels. We’re constantly processing the changing and intense world around us. Much of what we’re processing is loss, grief and sadness. These thoughts and emotions take up a lot of space and energy. So, what can we do to stay focused while feeling so incredibly depleted? Pick three to five things that are your top priority and that can be focused on during the pandemic. Focus on quality over quantity. We’re not going to be able to function at the speed or efficiency levels we were prior. It’s important to be kind to ourselves and give room to focus on what’s important to us. Use this time to make progress towards goals. Progress doesn’t mean perfection, nor does it mean completion. One step at a time, one day at a time.
Staying connected with friends, family and loved ones can be very difficult when we’re functioning on empty. However, when we’re surrounded by so many things that drain us, what fills us up? Maybe it’s texting with our friends or a call with a family member. Engaging with the ones you love, laughing, smiling, can fill your cup instead of pouring more out. Some days reaching out and staying connected will feel like too much and that’s okay. On the days it feels doable, I encourage you to try. You may be surprised how much life a conversation can truly bring to your every day.
Regardless of if you use this advice or not, you’ve gotten through almost a year of a global pandemic. I’m proud of you. You’re doing great! You’re surviving, keeping your head above water and if you look really closely, you can see that light at the end of the tunnel.
If you’ve found yourself struggling within the ongoing pandemic, you’re not alone. It may be useful to try counseling. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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