It’s impossible to deny that COVID-19 has changed the way we live and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Of course, change is rarely easy for adults and children alike. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help you and your family adapt to this new reality. Here are 7 ways to adjust to new situations during COVID-19.
1. Practice accepting uncertainty.
Most of us have an innate desire to be in control of our life. Knowing what and when is going to happen produces feelings of safety and security. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has produced the exact opposite in everyone’s life. Simple questions such as, when will I enjoy a meal at my favorite restaurant again or more serious ones about our employment, health and children’s education are present almost every day. These questions can lead to immense feelings of uncertainty and anxiety.
The good news is you can train your brain to adjust and accept uncertainty. To do this, start with small matters in life. For example, when you’re heading out for an errand, don’t check the weather. Will it rain on you? If it does, what’s the worst that will happen? Perhaps you’ll get wet but as mom used to say “You won’t melt.” Either way you will see that the uncertainty of the outcome is usually not as bad as we think. With time, you’ll gradually develop your ability to deal with uncertainty and even embrace it in your life.
2. Filter your COVID-19 news.
In this age of social media and constant breaking news headlines, the stories about COVID-19 dominate. Some often contradict each other and can be downright scary. Don’t immediately believe everything you hear and see. Before you panic, look at the source.
Sources that you can count on to provide accurate information include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) dedicated COVID-19 website and the Coronavirus Pandemic website, maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO). Both are kept up to date with verified statistics and contain advice from experts in the fields of epidemiology, global public health, and medical research.
You also need to limit how much time is spent ingesting information about COVID-19. While it’s important to stay abreast of the facts, spending an inordinate amount of time reading or watching news reports will only contribute to anxiety. The same can be said about our conversations with family and friends. If you find that COVID-19 is your primary topic of conversation, try changing the narrative to a new hobby or skill.
3. Maintain your routine as much as you can.
One of the main problems that people are struggling with during COVID-19 is a deviation from their regular schedule. However, maintaining your routine is essential to managing your anxiety and adapting more quickly to the current situation. For example, if you are working from home, maintain your usual hours. Resist the urge to sleep in everyday and wear pajamas. Wake up at your normal time, take a shower, put on makeup, and get dressed.
Designate an area in the home as your workspace or office. Do not simply work from the couch or worse your bed. This will make it easier to focus on and continue with your work. If you typically eat at your favorite restaurant on Friday night, order it via Grubhub, UberEats or DoorDash. If possible, try to recreate the atmosphere at home by dimming the lights and using iTunes or Spotify to play music. This especially applies to children. Be sure to create their own space for schoolwork. It will help you, their new teacher, to get them to focus and get the work done as quickly as possible. Of course, continue to maintain their morning routine and bedtimes. Essentially, live your life as normally as possible.
4. Stay connected.
Adjusting to a life spent almost entirely at home can be exceedingly difficult. Feelings of loneliness and despair can make your current situation worse. Take time every day to connect with someone outside your home. Call or Facetime family, friends, or colleagues. Participate in video meetings or events to which you are invited. Consider joining a virtual book club or another group related to your hobbies. The key is to keep reaching out to others and maintain personal relationships.
5. Stay ahead of your stress.
One of the easiest ways to make a situation worse is by becoming overstressed. Therefore, it is important to be proactive about managing your stress levels during COVID-19. Simple ways to manage stress include eating healthy, exercising daily, prioritizing rest and sleep, connecting with others, and taking a break when you feel yourself getting overwhelmed. Every day do something that allows you to disconnect physically and mentally from work and life around you, such as putting together a puzzle, playing a game, reading a book, or tackling a fun home improvement project.
6. Practice the basics to stay healthy.
Remain vigilant, but level-headed about your health to help you adjust. Knowing that you are doing your best to reduce the risk will help you adjust. The basics, according to the CDC, include:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. This is particularly true when you are out in public, have just returned home, or have coughed, sneezed, or blown your nose.
- If soap and water isn’t available, use a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
- Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay at least 6 feet away from other people when outside the home.
- Avoid large gatherings.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Daily clean and disinfect any frequently touched surfaces.
- Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth or mask when you’re around other people. (This is primarily meant to protect others in case you are infected.)
7. Stay in the present by practicing mindfulness.
Worrying about what may happen in the future can make it exceedingly difficult to adjust to COVID-19 today. There are simply too many unknowns while trying to adjust. Mindfulness helps you stay in the present by making you pay attention to your surroundings and focusing on what is happening here and now instead of worrying about what can happen in the future. Think about the positive things you are experiencing now, such as being able to spend more time with your immediate family. At the same time, focus on the things you can control.
Some tips for practicing mindfulness include:
- Going for a walk outside to enjoy some fresh air. (Remember social distancing!)
- Taking a few deep breaths.
- Take advantage of various mindfulness apps, such as Calm, Headspace, or Stop, Breathe & Think. (All are free.)
- Take part in a hobby that you enjoy and reduces your stress.
Right now, we’re living in a totally different world than we’ve ever experienced, so it’s completely understandable that you may be struggling to adjust. Using the tips above should help you get through these strange times and improve your life overall.