Maybe you’re finally starting to adjust to this ‘new normal.’
Or maybe your feelings of anxiety, depression, frustration or irritability couldn’t possibly get any more intense. Maybe you’re finding it difficult to sleep or focus. Maybe you’re increasingly frustrated or bored over the loss of the different activities and interactions – sports, hangouts with friends, even school – that bring you joy. Maybe you feel like you’re losing your sense of freedom and control over your life and it’s putting you on edge.
First and foremost, you will need to recognize your emotions and accept them. Emotions – even the ‘hard’ ones – are not, in and of themselves a bad thing. They’re not something to be ignored or dismissed. It’s normal for you to sometimes feel anxious, sad or angry.
However, you probably don’t want negative emotions to dominate your life. Fortunately, once you begin to recognize these feelings, you can start to explore what triggers them, and the different actions and behaviours, like those listed below, that are and are not effective in managing your negative emotions.
For anyone struggling with the incredible upheaval caused by the pandemic, we recommend you try doing some of the things listed below. Try doing them ESPECIALLY when you don’t feel like doing them because you are feeling sad, or unmotivated or anxious.
1. Get some air
Sit on your balcony or porch or take a walk around your neighbourhood (while keeping a safe, 2m distance from others). Notice the world around you and the daily changes of spring. Say hi or wave to people you pass and take a moment to see how you feel.
2. Take care of your body
Move. Learn the latest TikTok dance, stretch, go for a walk (see above), do a free youtube fitness video. Get your blood flowing. Eat. Try to eat healthy to take care of your body from the inside out.
3. Get something done
It doesn’t have to be a big project. Start something small and finish it to its end. Draw a picture. Learn a dance. Memorize all the countries of South America. Discover a new hobby you can do by yourself or with others. Nurture your talents. Accomplishing something – especially something productive like washing the dishes or organizing your room – can help you keep your brain and body active and feeling purposeful.
4. Help Someone
This doesn’t have to be something big. Try reaching out to say hi to someone you know who might be lonely or helping the adults in your life by keeping your younger siblings busy for a couple hours.
5. Reach out to others
Connect with people you love and trust about how you are feeling. Uplift one another. Being physically distant doesn’t have to mean being socially isolated.
6. Be a smart news consumer
This doesn’t mean reading every article and opinion on the pandemic. While it’s important to be informed (about the rules of social distancing in your community and how to stay safe) more information isn’t always better. Being informed means getting your information from trustworthy sources like the CBC, the Government of Canada or City or Hamilton websites.
It also means knowing when to stop reading. This could mean setting a timer or simply asking yourself does reading this make me feel good or change my control over the situation? If the answer is no, it’s probably a good sign to find something else to do like one of the things listed above.
Nothing lasts forever: the good, the bad and this pandemic. Though there is no way for us to know when exactly things will return to ‘normal’ or what the new ‘normal’ will look like, it’s safe to say that the social distancing, staying inside, empty toilet paper shelves will all be over eventually.
Learning to recognize, understand and manage your emotions in an effective and positive way will serve you well no matter what changes, challenges or celebrations come your way!
If you are struggling with your mental and emotional health, there are lots of free resources you can access: