As a follow-up to my last post about trauma, I wanted to show you all what I’ve been doing to help me cope with the pandemic. Through much trial and error, I’ve figured out things that help me cope when life gets stressful. Since the pandemic began, my coping skills have been tested like never before.
These are my tried-and-true ways to cope when life gets stressful. I don’t do all of these things every day, or even every week, and I’m not saying that you need to do all or any of these things. These are what I’ve found to be the most helpful for me. It will take some time to figure out what works for you. If an idea sounds interesting to you, feel free to try it out.
In no particular order, here are my ways of coping:
- Praying/Bible Study/Streaming Mass
- Therapy and Psychiatrist appointments
Praying/Bible Study/Streaming Mass
As a practicing Catholic, my faith has gotten me through some very hard times, and the pandemic is no different. Nurturing my faith helps me to remember that God is always with us, no matter how difficult or scary life becomes. One of the ways I do this is by praying. I pray for strength, courage, protection for myself and my loved ones, healing for the sick, and for an end to the pandemic. I also pray for people to work together and make the sacrifices needed to get the pandemic under control.
My diocese is located in a state that’s considered a Covid-19 “hot spot,” so we’ve had the option to either stream Mass or attend in-person. I’ve been to Mass in-person a few times since the pandemic began, but at the time of this writing, it’s too dangerous to attend in-person. As a result, my family and I have chosen to stream Mass from home. Regardless of whether I attend in-person or virtually, it refreshes my soul, and it helps me to remember that this pandemic won’t last forever.
If you’re interested in learning more about Catholicism, here is a link to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They serve Catholics within the United States, and they have a lot of good information about Catholic teachings and beliefs.
Earlier this year, I picked up crocheting to help me heal from the events of the Fall 2019 semester, which I discussed in this blog post. Since then, I’ve been crocheting a ton in order to help me heal from my trauma and cope with the pandemic. In fact, I estimate that I’ve used almost 20 pounds of yarn since January!
Because I’ve been crocheting so much, I’m planning on donating most of what I’ve created. Right now, I’m crocheting blankets to donate to a nonprofit called “Warm Up America!” They collect knitted and crocheted blanket sections, sew them into blankets, and give them to hospitals, shelters, and foster care agencies. They also accept finished blankets, hats, scarves, and baby clothes.
In the aftermath of the Fall 2019 semester, one thing that would help me feel better was to snuggle underneath a blanket. That would help me feel safer and less vulnerable. Because of this, I love having the opportunity to help others who are going through a hard time.
If you’re interested in learning how to crochet, click here for beginner instructions.
I’ve always been a bookworm. It’s part of the reason I earned a B.A. in English. Reading has always helped me to cope with my anxiety, and it’s been even more helpful since the pandemic began.
Reading has helped me in many ways, but the two biggest reasons are that it distracts and entertains. Let’s face it, Covid-19 news can be overwhelming, especially if you live in a hot spot. In order to survive, I have to take a break whenever possible. In addition, reading helps to break up the monotony of my day, and it gives me something interesting to think about.
As much as reading is beneficial, I advise you to be careful about which books you read. Don’t read books that are triggering for you. Doing so will make you even more stressed. If you need to avoid a trigger, check out this blog post for online tools to find trigger warnings for a certain book.
There are plenty of places to shop for books. If it’s safe to go out in public, check out your local bookstore or thrift shop. Thrift shops often have books available for pennies on the dollar. Not only that, but it’s good for the environment to buy secondhand items, and your money will likely go to a nonprofit organization in your community.
If it’s not safe to shop in-person, order books online and ship them to your house. Amazon and Barnes and Nobles have plenty of books, but there are other options, depending on what genre you’re looking for. Do a Google search, and see what’s out there.
Therapy and Psychiatrist Appointments
Last but not least, I’ve been attending therapy and psychiatrist appointments to help keep my stress levels in check. Because of the pandemic, I’ve had to make adjustments to how I attend these appointments. I have two therapy appointments per week, one in-person and one online. For my in-person therapy appointments, my therapist and I wear masks. My therapist also has a medical-grade filter in her office, she sprays the couch with Lysol after every session, she opens the doors, and she provides hand sanitizer. In addition, I wait in my car (instead of in the waiting room), and I bring my own hand sanitizer to use.
As far as my psychiatrist appointments go, all of these appointments will be online until further notice. My psychiatrist also sends all of my medications to a mail-order pharmacy, and they get shipped to my house.
Given how quickly the pandemic began, I’ve been impressed with how quickly my psychiatrist and therapist have adapted to the circumstances. It’s made me feel a lot better about going to in-person appointments, and their flexibility has ensured that my care continues uninterrupted.
Having my psychiatrist and therapist has helped me to navigate this pandemic while managing my anxiety. My therapist has helped me to find the things that I can control, validate my feelings, and listen to my needs, among many other things.
If you find that you need extra help right now, there’s no shame in that. The circumstances we’re dealing with are far from normal. There’s so much uncertainty and stress right now, and decisions take a lot more mental energy than they did last year. That’s why I’m currently seeing my therapist twice per week, instead of once.
Even with the pandemic, you still don’t have to suffer alone. Many psychiatrists and therapists have expanded their telemedicine options, and many insurance companies are covering more mental health needs. My insurance, for example, is covering 100% of all telemedicine appointments to encourage people to stay home as much as possible. Look into your insurance plan and see what it provides.
For assistance finding a therapist or psychiatrist, click here.
I hope this post gives you some ideas for how to cope with the pandemic. Even though we might be limited in where we can go, there are still options for taking care of ourselves at home. It might take a little creativity, but it’s possible to take care of yourself in less-than-ideal circumstances.
How have you been taking care of yourself? Leave your answers in the comments below!
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