Dealing with the Pandemic Blues

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Last week, I asked you guys what some of the biggest issues or challenges you’re currently dealing with in your life are. Not surprisingly, COVID-related matters seemed to be a recurrent theme: lacking motivation, concerns around mental health, negativity, social anxiety, and—despite all of this—how to foster feelings of hope. It’s been a long slog, my friends.

While I try to keep most of the messages I share on social media positive, I don’t want people to perceive that everything is hunky dory on my end. As we all know, social media only represents a minimal amount of someone’s life—their “highlight reel”, if you will. I too find myself struggling with issues surrounding my mental health, especially at this time. Although anxiety is something I’ve struggled with a lot over the past few years, I’ve found it’s started to peak even more given our current circumstances.

Journaling is a habit that I’ve picked up over the last several years. It’s helped me better understand my emotions, serves to reduce my anxiety, and helps me reflect more deeply on issues—providing more confidence to make difficult decisions in my life. It’s an introspective tool that I use regularly to do the ongoing, deep inner work. With that being said, I wanted to share a personal entry that I wrote in February of this year on a particularly bad day:

I’m struggling. The monotony of everyday life is really getting to me. I feel like I don’t have anything to look forward to.  I miss my friends. I miss hugs and intimacy. I miss the variety life has to offer. I’m alone with my thoughts too much. My anxiety is off the charts. I’m grieving the end of a relationship—I don’t have the usual distractions and finding it exponentially more painful. I’m trying to take care of myself, focus on me. Work on projects that are exciting. But some days I just don’t want to get out of bed. It’s hard to find motivation to do basic things. While running always makes me feel better, I’m pushing it off longer and longer. Sitting with my pain is too uncomfortable. I cry a lot. I’m back living with my family at 31 years old—not ideal at all. There’s a lot of tension with my family and I’m lashing out more and more for minuscule annoyances. I’m finding it hard to even go outside…it’s so cold and miserable out. COVID is really getting to me, but with the vaccine rollout in sight, I am becoming slightly more hopeful.

Although I acknowledge there are people who are battling with COVID in extremely pressing ways (like losing loved ones, financial hardships, etc.), I also wanted to recognize that it’s affecting people’s wellbeing—mine included.

It hasn’t been all bad though and I’ve found that small, simple actions each day can lift my spirits. In a subsequent journal entry, I wanted to remind myself of the things I enjoy tackling each day—serving as a motivational refresh:

Journal Daily: take the time to acknowledge how I’m feeling that day, sort out my emotions, write about it, and take time to digest it. When I’m feeling deflated, writing down what I’m grateful is an instant mood-booster.

Laugh: whether that’s chatting with a friend, watching a show (ahem, Ru Paul), or just joking around with family.

Read: books have been therapeutic—a real friend and comfort to me. Read often and read a variety of genres.

Drink peppermint tea: sipping on peppermint tea and listening to my Stress Relief playlist on Spotify always helps lower my anxiety.

Call a friend: no matter how shitty I’m feeling, it’s important to call a friend and check in on someone else. You’ll feel better after.

Eat good food: eat healthy for energy, but also indulge in some of my favourite goodies. 

Be grateful: if you’re healthy, your family is healthy, or you’re surrounded by people you love and who love you back, hold on to this and be grateful for what you currently have.

Do deep work: get lost in important and meaningful work. Stay focused and turn off distractions. Plan, research, write, share. It’s cathartic.

Keep social media to a minimum: checking social media too much increases my anxiety exponentially. Put a limit on your usage—try scaling back to checking social media 3x per day maximum.

Turn the phone on airplane mode an hour before bed: read a book as a way of winding down before hitting the hay. Read something uplifting to balance out your energy before bed – you’ll have a more restful sleep.

Try not to drink coffee past 1pm: you won’t sleep.

Meditate daily: mediate for at least 10 minutes every day. Aim for 15-20 mins though. It keeps you centred, helps with focus, and it’s important to take a bit of time every day for yourself.

Be kind to yourself: you’re not going to feel great and motivated every day. Ride with the waves. Know that you’re doing the best you can every day. Practice self-compassion often and be content with the work you do in a given day.

Run and train: stay present in your workouts. Focus on one mile and one rep at a time–remember how good exercising makes you feel.

Be in nature: Go for walks and get outside every day (despite the weather). You will always return refreshed and feeling better.

While seemingly small, this list has helped me deal with the pandemic blues and pull myself out of dark places and bad days. If you don’t do this already, I highly recommend keeping a list of reminders that make you happy. Keep them handy and try to incorporate even just a few every day. Self-compassion has been the biggest one for me and is especially important when I’m tired, low energy and unproductive. 

It’s a really tough time for all of us and while some have it much harder, there’s some comfort in knowing that it’s a shared experience. Sending all my love to everyone.

Emily x

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