Five signs you’re handling pandemic stress well
It’s been more than half a year since COVID-19 blew up our lives. Unless you’ve been living off-planet, things have changed dramatically in your life: your daily schedule, your typical concerns, the conversations you have — it’s all different.
So, how are you doing?
If you find it hard to answer that question, you’re not alone.
When every marker along our life path changes, how do we measure well-being?
Read on for five signs you’re doing okay.
1: You’re giving yourself a break
This may be the simplest, as well as the hardest goal for many of us, so congratulate yourself if you’re already there.
Think of it as a “don’t sweat the small stuff” mantra on steroids. Nothing is normal anymore, so why should our reactions be?
Did you forget to call your mother or your boss when they expected it? Just breathe.
Did that bill get paid late? Again? Forget their forgiveness, offer it to yourself.
Take a deep breath and let it go.
It’s always good to cut yourself some slack when the minor stuff goes wrong. But in times like these, it’s crucial.
When your day breaks down, you don’t need to.
Pause, consider what’s important, then give yourself the understanding you deserve.
2: You’re setting (and maintaining) healthy boundaries.
This sign assumes you had healthy boundaries when the pandemic began. If you did, fantastic. If ever there was a time to learn to say no when you need to, or to say yes to a little extra self-care, it’s 2020.
Think of your emotional and mental well-being like a bucket that you can fill, but can’t allow to overflow without consequences. That extra space at the top that we all carry? That’s the backup we use when the unexpected happens.
But it’s not necessarily there now.
COVID-19 has filled it. It’s gone to the virus, to shutdown and quarantine changes, to social distancing mandates, or to worrying about our own health or the health of our loved ones.
You might have gotten away with doing just a little too much in the past. For 2020, and likely well into 2021, saying no a little sooner than you have before is the new normal.
3: You’re moderating your information intake.
There’s so much at stake in the world today and changes seem to be happening by the second. It’s hard to turn away.
But you’re doing it anyway, right?
Most of us will agree that staying up-to-date with family, local, national, or global news is important, but too much can overwhelm us and leave us feeling helpless and hopeless.
The balance comes in learning to consume enough news to feel informed, but not so much it becomes an addiction or you begin to suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) anxiety.
If you’re not limiting your intake now, let that be okay. The upcoming presidential election is keeping many of us glued to our feeds.
But make a plan to limit your news consumption once it’s done. Pick a post-election date that feels comfortable and implement your news limits then.
4: You’re following healthy self-care practices
There’s a list of important well-being practices that you’re probably already familiar with. You know these activities — eating healthy, exercising, getting plenty of sleep, meditating.
All the things we know are good for us but that we don’t always do.
If you’re hitting some of these goals regularly, or all of them occasionally, congratulations. Sure, you could probably do more, or do them more frequently. That will happen.
For now, for 2020, celebrate if you’ve got a routine that’s working and let the rest go.
5: You’re giving other people a break
I think the phrase that keeps getting repeated during COVID says it all.
“We’re all in this together.”
If we know that giving ourselves a break when we’re experiencing stress is important, it only makes sense that we give it to others too.
Bonus sign: You’ve asked for help
Despite all the research that says asking for help is an important life-skill. Despite numerous well-educated people affirming it as a strength and not a weakness, asking for help is still a risk — and risks make us feel vulnerable.
Let that be okay if you can.
Unusual times call for new responses. If you’ve struggled with asking for help in the past, consider this. 2020 may be the year where we collectively put aside any misplaced shame around what being strong means.
No matter how hard it is to do, asking for help is a sign we are coping well.