We’re all searching for ways to deal with the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic’s impact on all aspects of our lives. We cannot, and should not, expect to have an easy time. This is the most significant disruptor many of us will ever experience in our lifetime.

What’s important is to acknowledge that this is hard and to find constructive ways to deal with the “down days” so we can strengthen our coping ability, maintain our ability to function, and help the people in our lives to manage their lives in the best way possible under duress.

Consider these tips when the complexity of the situation, along with perhaps growing impatience, start to intrude on your well-being.

Avoid suppressing your emotions

Everyone has feelings, and stuffing them in order to appear “strong” or “stoic” will cause them to fester and appear as physical illness or injury. Express emotions in ways that help you regain some equilibrium. Cry (yes – men too), talk with someone who listens with empathy, or reflect on what works for you.

Check in on people who are alone

Loneliness is a major outcome of pandemic isolation, and can diminish both mental and physical health. Call or send a message just to say hello and let people know they matter. We can be extra sensitive to people’s feelings at this time: kind, respectful, tactful, and forgive others when they are less so.

Decide that you are worth caring for

Self-care and healthy lifestyle habits demonstrate our priorities. When we feel we “deserve”  unhealthy behaviors, we are stating that we are not worthy of having a good life. Contemplate and define your priorities. Care for yourself as you care for anyone (or anything) you love!

Lighten up on yourself

Harsh self-criticism, constant “shoulding,” guilt, and shame can lead to low self-esteem. Strive to avoid “awfulizing” – remember that everyone makes mistakes, forgets, and fails to live up to their own expectations. Being hard on ourselves inhibits personal growth. Trust yourself and practice self-compassion.

Tame the worry monster

Most people are worried about many things – because of the prevailing uncertainty. Define what is causing the worry and decide how you will deal with issues if they arise. Anxiety can be immobilizing; one antidote is action. Allow your mind to imagine, brainstorm, plan the “if-thens, ” and strive for calm and clarity.

Celebrate in the midst of pandemonium

Feeling festive – even a little, elevates the level of “feel good” chemicals oxytocin and the endorphins, along with serotonin and dopamine for focus and stress reduction. This year, celebrations include reminiscing, making concessions, expressing gratitude for what we do have, and a bit of ingenuity.  

Daily gratitude and reflection

When you think of what you are grateful for in life, add a reason for your gratitude. For example, I am grateful for my work during this time because I am helping people persevere and even feel good. I am grateful for my health because it gives me the energy to wake up, get up, and show up each day with enthusiasm and optimism!