Life certainly feels off lately, but you can still be in control.
Sure, you’re physically separated from loved ones or your job, unable to visit favorite shops and limited to takeout for dining, but when the COVID-19 pandemic has upended your life, it’s even more important to focus on what you can control. Surprisingly, those things do exist.
“What is most helpful is to acknowledge the uncertainty, identify sources of anxiety and worry and, perhaps most importantly, build your resources,” said Dr. Laura Saunders, head of the LGBTQ track at the BHN’s Institute of Living part of Hartford HealthCare’s Behavioral Health Network.
Here are some things you can control right now:
- Your priorities. Our lives are stripped to the basics, making it easier to see what we value most and need to keep in our lives. That can be people, time, health and work. It can also include dreams and your bucket list. Once we identify those things, we can refocus our post-COVID-19 lives on the pursuit of them.
- Your thoughts. From panic to sadness, your mind has probably run the gamut since the pandemic began. Keep abreast of updates from credible sources, but don’t overload yourself with news or, worse, others’ opinions. Unconsciously, everything from what you read to your culture and experience in life affects your thoughts, but you can control what you feed into your mind. At the same time, accepting that there’s a certain amount we do not know can help keep your mind from racing.
- Your breathing. Deep-breathing exercises can help calm and keep us focused in the present.
- Your communication. We’re all connecting in new ways as we move through COVID-19 physically apart. This is a chance to strengthen your relationships, both personal and work, through FaceTime gab sessions or Zoom meetings. Pay attention to how you communicate from behind the mask, too. Body language and eye movements are key to effectively connecting with others.
- Your boundaries. You decide who gets your attention, what projects to pursue, when to say no and how much time you devote to things in your life.
- Your routine. Most of us work and care for other people at home, so it’s hard to understand that we still maintain control over our day-to-day schedule. With renewed focus on priorities, however, we can restructure our routine to emphasize those important elements. In the process, we add joy and shed some stress.
- Your willingness to explore. This is a great time to branch out from the known and try a new hobby, book genre or recipe. Stretch and think outside your normal patterns. You may discover a new passion.
“Spending a few minutes to remember one or two 2 things to be grateful for can also help shift our mindset,” Dr. Saunders recommended.
The Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network is now scheduling virtual-health visits for mental health and addiction services. Call your provider for details. New patients can schedule a virtual visit by calling 1.888.984.2408.
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