By Dr. Aderonke Omotade, Psychiatrist and Internal medicine physician
Consider life just a few weeks ago. You celebrated with friends at your favorite restaurant, chatted with the other people in line at your local coffee shop, stood elbow-to-elbow on public transportation during your work commute, and sampled treats at your neighborhood grocery store.
Then came the coronavirus and normalcy was uprooted.
Now, you have virtual birthday brunches, stand 6-feet apart in public areas, attend virtual meetings in a dress shirt and pajama bottoms, and spray disinfectant on everything that enters your home. That is assuming you are lucky enough to own a can of disinfectant.
“The new normal”. “Uncertain times”. As buzz phrases swirl around daily conversations—not to mention social media—many of us are experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. The unthinkable is happening and everyone is experiencing it at the same time. COVID-19 is impossible to ignore.
What if I was exposed? What if I can’t get groceries? What if I lose my job? What if my family gets it?
Seemingly endless questions can be compounded by the fact that none of us knows when this situation will end. Perhaps your mind is racing and you are also mourning a loss of control. There are many ways that we respond to these uncomfortable feelings. Here are a few examples:
You may experience a negative thought and let go with deep breathing techniques. Basically, it comes to your mind, you pause, reflect, shrug and let it drift away.
For some, once the thought enters your mind, it overwhelms it to the point that you lose focus and can think of nothing else. Worry consumes you.
Maybe you are a person who has managed to live with little to no disruption. You may worry from time to time, but it has not shaken your world.
However you react to this phenomenon, remember that it is a shared experience affecting us all in different ways. Anxiety and fear are expected during this time of uncertainty, but they do not have to define us. When anxiety arises, accept it and decide how you wish to channel it.
Consider channeling your energy into the things that you can control. Focus on projects that you have never had the time to do before. Practice self-care. Connect with loved ones more mindfully.
We cannot control the global situation, but the battle is not actually with the global situation. It is within ourselves. Each of us has a very specific battle: to be safe, to be responsible and to not panic.
Simply breathe and take back your control.