For a few months, doors were closed, roads were empty, and no one would dare to knock on a neighbor’s door for a cup of sugar. Then, as COVID-19 cases started to dwindle, businesses reopened, and people loosened up – for a little while. Before we knew it, things went right back to where they started as a surge in cases resulted in a new wave of shutdowns.
This rollercoaster is starting to give people lockdown fatigue, or “coronacoaster” as some call it. The term has already made it into an urban dictionary. I can tell you: it’s definitely making me dizzy!
I’ve been more than ready to rip off the mask and run free. The thought of not being able to do the things I love for my own mental health, has me feeling quite anxious. No sports games, no dining out with my besties, and trying to figure out how to deal with a job loss in my family have caused a great deal of stress.
The feeling of having less control over what was once somewhat normal can be disconcerting. However, there are ways you can navigate through the coronacoaster ride without a major headspin.
“This pandemic definitely took away our familiar ways of managing stress and worries,” says Northern California licensed clinical social worker, Christina Wong. “When we refocus from the unknown of the future to the known presence, it allows us to stay centered, and be present and focus on the ‘now’.”
So, is now the time to hit the reset button? How many times will we have to push it? Change is hard. Thinking outside the box and realizing that the situation is fluid and will be for a while is a good start that Wong says can help ease some of the anxiety people may feel.
“When people don’t have the buy-in of the reasoning of changes and orders, this is how resentment and resistance develop. Practicing open-mindedness and understanding the ‘why’ could help. Avoid the black and white, or right and wrong mentality,” Wong said.
Trying to face this up-and-down reality? Here are some things to try to keep your head on straight during this bumpy ride.
Hate wearing a mask?
Try to remember why you’re wearing the mask – to protect those we care about. “Being a masketeer is not what we’re accustomed to. By focusing on the ‘why’ would help to reframe the negative notion of wearing a mask,” said Wong. If you are having a hard time breathing, try to leave the environment that requires a mask and take a breather.
If you’re missing your friends or getting tired of being stuck at home all the time, think outside of the box. Try to find creative ways to connect with your friends like a socially distant picnic or a virtual party online. Hop in the car and take a drive. Enjoy nature. Wong says even a short walk around the block can improve physical health and maintain emotional balance.
Angry over a school closure, missed concerts, or sports without crowds?
Feeling upset, angry, or stressed are valid feelings as families worry over a major interruptions in daily routine and childhood education. Sometimes venting to a friend or family member can help let off some steam. Accepting your emotions is the first step to cope, according to Wong. If you miss going to a concert, put on a set of headphones and listen to your favorite music while imagining yourself enjoying it live in person. If you miss sports, try to watch events scheduled on television, or relive a moment in sports history by finding a rerun of a game or match.
The bottom line is that this is the reality we will be living for quite some time. Staying in the present instead of worrying about the future is one of the best ways to stay on track as we ride the coronacoaster wave.
If you decide to seek help from a mental health professional, be sure to check that their license is valid and in good standing with the California Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Behavioral Sciences at https://www.bbs.ca.gov/ or the California Board of Psychology at https://www.psychology.ca.gov/.