HHS has extended the PHE throughout the rest of 2021. Just when we thought things might be getting back to the new normal, HHS says we are not quite ready to lift the PHE. Some states such as Florida continue to rise in COVID-19 related cases. Be prepared for another year of social distancing and strict state policies. Here are some tips to help cope with the continuation of the pandemic.
1. Acknowledge what’s happening and that it’s stressful. Because it is. Denial is a remarkably adaptive skill.
2. Stay connected. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. You can still FaceTime, call, text, have a Zoom happy hour with your friends.
3. Do benefit finding. “Looking for the good is an important strategy,” says Dr. Julie Kolzet, Ph.D., and a licensed psychologist in NYC (who also sees patients remotely). An example would be if you’re working from home, maybe you have more autonomy now.
4. Try breathing exercises. Mindful breathing where you match your in-breath with your out-breath and focus on scanning your body is calming. You don’t have to spend 20 minutes, even three minutes will help.
5. Be kind. It doesn’t just benefit someone else; you reap the rewards too. According to research, when you do something nice for someone else, your brain’s pleasure and reward centers light up. It’s called the “helper’s high.”
6. Share something good. Even if it’s something small or mundane, like a funny meme or cute picture. Letting someone else in on it amplifies the good feelings you got from it.
7. Change your expectations. You add to your own stress levels by creating goals that are unrealistic. “Be easy on yourself,” advises Dr. Kolzet. “It’s not an easy time. Do what you can.” Dr. Kaplin agrees. “Our culture doesn’t believe in giving people time to recover and react,” he explains.
8. Manage your news intake. It is way too easy to get sucked into press conference after press conference and then to check for updates on websites or to obsessively check in on the number of confirmed cases in your state. Being informed doesn’t require you to act like you’re a newsroom producer. It’s okay to set a few times a day where you’ll check-in for updates. Stick to reliable news outlets, rumors spread quickly and feed into the panic.