Navigating Your Emotions During The Pandemic

June 05, 2020

Navigating Your Emotions During The Pandemic

Time seems to hold no meaning as you continue to change the concept of day and night with your chaotic sleep schedule. These unprecedented times have certainly brought an increase in feelings or loss, vulnerability and anxiety. The real question is - what will help us navigate these troubling times?

Everyone Reacts Differently to Stress & Uncertainty

First and foremost, please remember that outbreaks can be stressful. Watching the number of positive cases rise as 100s turn to 1000s can cause immense anxiety as you come to terms with your own vulnerability. As the world slowly moves towards easing lockdown, we might find ourselves feeling more and more exposed to getting the virus which can cause an unsettling feeling in the pit of your stomach. Has the pandemic and its resulting lockdown made you feel inept and unproductive while you watched people cycle their way around the city or make the perfect banana bread and wondered if you're the only one that has difficulty getting out of bed?  Trust us, you are NOT alone. The fact is that everyone processes stress and uncertainty differently. Some leap into coping mechanisms and new routines to keep themselves sane, while others can find it more challenging to deal with the overflow of emotions.  So what can you do to ease the process and come to terms with the changing times?

Self Care

We cannot begin to explain how significant self care is at the moment. Even though it is important in every day life too, it has become crucial for survival during a pandemic. If watching the news or engaging with social media affects you with the rampant negative news, technology can begin to feel emotionally draining in ways that affect your energy too. 

Allow yourself to listen to your body. Let it feel the fatigue - the world is healing and you will too. You might be exhausted looking at the news wishing for a glimpse of just about anything that can help keep you and your loved ones safe or you simply have a stress headache worrying about your job and finances, or you simply have tech neck from all the excessive neck bending while using your phone. So what can you do? 

Take some time for yourself. Turn off the TV. Watching an hour of daily news is sufficient. You do not have to overindulge. Learn to unplug from your phone and if it's difficult, turn it off for an hour or two and enjoy the more simpler things in life. Be it applying a face mask, meditating, cooking or even simply binge watching your favourite show - the doctor has prescribed a whole lot of self care. 

Grief & Loss

Be it the social distancing, or the unfortunate passing of a loved one - feelings of grief and loss can be overwhelming and unnerving. Grief can put you in one of the most vulnerable of places because it touches every aspect of your being. 

Be it the loss of a loved one or the loss of the world as we knew it, the loss of a future we had imagined or even the loss of the sense of safety - are the new norm. This time in self quarantine, and the mandatory social distancing is preventing you from getting any physical contact and comfort (hugs sometimes do make everything better) can make this pandemic an extremely challenging time for some. It can even scrounge up some old grief from the past. 

The only thing you can do is face the grief head on - name it and accept it. The more you feel it, the sooner you can find the space in your heart and mind to accept it. 

And while the Pakistani culture relies on gatherings - be they social, religious or even spiritual - this pandemic might help you grieve. Even though elaborate funerals, family unconditional support and having friends around is not possible at the moment, it gives us a chance to grieve in isolation and heal from within. 

There is no more stress of having to "put on a face" while you navigate through your grief. The entire world is hurting, so don't rush for your armour just yet. Vulnerability, grief and loss are the new constants of life in the pandemic. 

Here are some apps that can help you meditate and focus on the positive:

  • Sanvello for Stress & Anxiety – this self-help app helps to manage stress, anxiety, depression and allows you to schedule your mindfulness time based on your behavior profile by asking you questions. It also sends you messages throughout the day to help you get in touch with your feelings. 
  • Calm – This app is great for meditation and breathing exercises. 
  • Happy Color – Color by Number – this coloring app encourages mindfulness and self-soothing.

Numerous vulnerabilities, stresses and woundings that we had tucked away in the past have been coming up since we have been in quarantine. And that is causing a lot of people anxieties. But it’s a global phenomenon right now and also a global stressor. It is pushing us to dig deeper, giving us a lot of time for introspection. 

How we process it is where the methods of coping come up. Whether we utilise this time to develop our sense of self further or go in victim mode, is solely our own discretion. We, however, should know that this time is never going to come again, giving us all a once in a lifetime opportunity to reflect and work on ourselves, be it through indulging in self care, self reflection or self awareness etc. 

This time is a forced upon meditation of sorts where it’s given us time to stop from our daily chaotic lives and work on ourselves, giving us time to do all the things we always claimed we “never had time for” before. It’s bringing out a new feeling, a new reality, a new experience which cannot be compared to or related to anything before. When people say these times are unprecedented, this is what they mean. 

But the beauty of our minds is that we will eventually adapt to this new way of living. Fortunately, we do have the power within to find new normals. It’s a fresh start and definitely we will come out of this (if we choose to) stronger and more adaptable than before.

Yes time is relative today but what meaning we give it today will also be the advent of a new normal for us all. Granted, we will have good days and bad days and that is okay too. Most of our previous coping and defence mechanisms that we have used before might not work during this lockdown and we might have to formulate new ones for our current situation. 

However, living in the “now” is the key. This is the time to focus on yourself and bring new meaning to your sense of self, making it a great time to pause and reflect. 

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