Imagine that you have a huge exam coming up that can make or break your grade. You might spend weeks being stressed or anxious about it while trying to prepare. You study for long periods of time, and you might not see your friends as often as you’re used to. The day of the test comes and goes and you might feel like celebrating, or you might feel even more drained afterward. This is an example of what might happen when you’ve been stressed for a long period of time, and then your routine changes again very suddenly.
In the past few weeks, our lives have been turned upside down. We may have been stressed or feeling unsure for a while, and now when “normal” is right around the corner, it may be difficult to know how to react. And that’s okay! It’s normal to feel unsure when things change. We have a few tips that might help if you’re having a hard time finding a new “normal”.
- Acknowledge what you’re feeling. Your feelings are valid no matter what they are. Sometimes you may not be sure what you’re feeling. Try to recognize what it could be (anger, sadness, loneliness, etc.) and know that it’s normal to feel like that since you’re in a situation you’ve never been in before. Mindfulness is a strategy that can help you when you’re experiencing negative emotions. Find different ways to be mindful throughout your day.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself. Thinking about life after COVID-19 gave you something to look forward to. With the lifting of restrictions, it’s important to be realistic about how things might actually be different than what you might have imagined. Your favorite restaurant may be out of business. Friends or family may still be unable to visit or travel. You also might not have the physical or emotional energy to be outside of your home like you thought you would. Even though things you were looking forward to may not happen, it’s important to acknowledge that life will look differently before we stayed indoors. As life outside our homes begins to restart, you may even get to try new things that you didn’t expect!
- Connect with someone when you need support. If what you are feeling is overwhelming and it starts to interfere with your day-to-day life, reach out for support. A counsellor or peer support worker might be a great resource to listen and help you manage how you feel over the phone or online. You can also reach out to friends or family members. Although BC is beginning to reopen, we still may not spend time with friends in a way that we’re used to. Spending time with others over video calls, social media, or just sending a couple messages can go a long way even with certain restrictions continuing.
- Set healthy boundaries with media. These days, a lot of things you might be seeing in the media may cause anxiety and stress. But when news can be easily accessed 24/7, it might be very difficult to avoid the news entirely. We have a few ways that you can take care of yourself when the news might cause you to worry and your negative thoughts may be hard to turn off. In addition to the news, some people might also be posting more on social media about things they are doing while staying at home. Remember that everyone is different and handles things differently. Your way of managing might look different from someone you see online, and that’s okay.
- Give yourself time. Take time to get some rest for yourself to recharge. Time for yourself also includes time to reflect on what you might need. This might be some time with a pet, a walk outside, a long bath, or just putting some energy into something you enjoy. You don’t need to be at 100% all the time.
If your energy is really low, you may not be able to focus, or things may seem slower than usual. It’s important to listen to your body – rest, and take things slow when you need to. The new “normal” doesn’t have to come right away.
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