Dear readers, most countries across the world have restored all pre covid norms, but for masks. Finally the end to this nightmare is in sight. The two years of the pandemic have scarred so many of us for life. Now that the covid cases have declined, life is getting back to normal. And as we gather our pandemic ravaged souls it's time to shift our attention from disease to wellbeing.
But before we do that, we need to look at different ways the pandemic has impacted us. There has been tremendous loss of life and we have grieved individually and as a society. There have been pink slips, disruption in the academic year and uncertainty about the future. All these things have created anxiety, stress and depression in many. Not only this, the covid protocol of isolation induced an intense sense of loneliness in many people.
It's time now to pick our threads of life one more time. The schools and colleges have physically opened, and work from home is no longer an option for majority of people.
Where on one side there is lot of excitement about restoring normalcy in our lives, as a therapist I come across many people who are feeling anxious about getting back to their pre covid mode of life. Prominent among many concerns expressed by people, are social anxiety and exposing themselves to public places and catching a new strain of the virus. Though not easy, if we become a little mindful towards finding ways to overcome these problems, the transition from covid to post covid times will become much more easy.
Let me take you through various steps that you can take to recover from the impact of covid.
The two years of the pandemic have forced us to be masked up and stay indoors most of the time. This has greatly impacted our physical health. The first step to restore normalcy is to engage ourselves in any form of physical exercise. Be it walking, running, yoga or joining a gym. Remember to deep breathe often, since the mask mandate still remains at several places. Be mindful of stepping out in fresh air or stand near an open window and breathe with your mask off. This will not only increase the oxygen supply to your brain it will also enable you to deal with stress and anxiety by making you feel calm.
Many people have been experiencing panic and extreme forms of anxiety due to the impact of the pandemic on their finances, their health or their personal loss. Those who have experienced anxiety before, will know that during intense episodes of anxiety, emotional hijacking takes place and one is unable to see their situation clearly. The technique of grounding comes very handy in such instances. Whenever anxious, try and name, 5 things that you see around you, 4 things that you can touch, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you can smell. This simple exercise will help you get tuned in to your surroundings and induce a much required sense of calm.
In my therapy sessions, I suggest clients to make note of their problems on a sheet of paper. Research shows that the minute people start writing their problems, they are able to create a psychological distance between their thoughts and their emotions. This is followed by making a list of their zone of concern and zone of control. And learning to focus on their zone of control. This is an effective way to clear the emotional fog created by extreme distress and turmoil.
Covid has induced feelings of gloom and depression in many. Research shows that by writing down three good things that happened to you at the end of the day, even for a week will raise your happiness quotient by several notches. Doing this gratitude exercise will not only make you happy it is also likely to instill a sense of hope in you. A lot of people have found meaning and purpose through random acts of kindness. It has been found that by engaging in acts of kindness like volunteer work and charity, there is a deep sense of satisfaction and a shift from self to others.
Pursuing a hobby, involving yourself in some creative activity will not only create windows of relaxation for you, they are a great way to connect with your inner self.
Covid, as I mentioned earlier has scarred many people emotionally and psychologically. So many of us are bottled up inside, not finding ways to express ourselves. This is because we often fear being judged or hesitate in bothering others with our problems. As a therapist I strongly feel that we need to express and share our feelings, emotions and problems with others. Once we start sharing our problems, we are likely to realize that we are not alone and there are several others in the same boat. Mindfulness meditation, self-compassion meditation, freely available on the internet are handy tools to deal with stress of the present times. Apps like CALM and HEADSPACE are other digital resources that can be utilized for the same.
I have shared with you several tools to recover from the impact of covid. However, some of you may find it difficult to pull yourself together without professional help. I strongly suggest, in such situations you must contact a psychologist, psychiatrist or a therapist who is trained to guide you through your turmoil. After all, you do visit a physician when you are running high fever. Hope you find these tips useful and I hope, as a society instead of suffering from post traumatic stress we make efforts to move towards a POST TRAUMATIC GROWTH MINDSET.
More strength to you.