Navigating The Pandemic Blues

By | August 25, 2021 | |

The world is no longer what we know. When global lockdowns begun, it was new and even exciting. We were all busy adapting, avoiding the virus, gathering information as scientists and doctors make daily new discoveries. We turned our attentions to accommodating everyone working and schooling from home.

Eighteen months on, after settling into our routines of working and schooling from home, reading the news of how the virus has made its reappearances and continues to rage on in many parts of the world, we are all fed up. Most of us are scratching our heads and asking: Now what? When will this end?

Call it whatever: Pandemic Blues, Languishing, or simply Meh – this period of swinging between high anxiety and mundaneness has indeed not spared anyone in the universe.

The important question is not really how to stop the pandemic, leave that to the experts – it is how do we navigate out of this funk?

Have you been experiencing some form of negative emotional indescribability? The unpredictable easing and tightening of pandemic measures globally have taken a toll on all of us. Have you been thinking:

⦁ “I am feeling stuck.”  

⦁ “I am feeling stuck.” 

 ⦁ “I am feeling Meh.” 

⦁ “Some days, I just don’t feel like getting out of bed.”

 ⦁ “Not being able to see my family overseas has been a huge challenge for me.”

⦁ “Today was like yesterday & I know how it’ll be tomorrow; I’ve nothing much to look forward to.”

 If you have had some of these thoughts, you are definitely not alone.  Whilst we cannot change what is going on beyond our own thoughts, actions and behaviours, we can make brave attempts to see where can we shift them to feel more in control.  

 Here are some ways:

  Psychologists recommend that one of the best strategies is to simply name them. 

  I have not been able to get myself to catch up with friends over the phone or even to have one or two over – why am I isolating myself?

Each time I go out, I feel extra anxious over the possibility of catching the virus – do I have healthy anxiety?

 Reach out to a talk to someone.

  Realise that it is totally ok to call a close friend to tell him/her how tough a week you have just had; sometimes just realising you are not feeling like this alone makes you feel better.

You could be grieving the loss of your freedom.  It is hard when you cannot do what you have always enjoyed but cannot do so now.  

Revisit something else you have enjoyed doing or pick up a new hobby.  

What about learning how to play the piano or the guitar online?  Or do an online course?

Prepare a weekly work as well as an exercise and social calendar.

Besides knowing what to expect for your coming work or school week, create another calendar to make plans to either call or meet family and friends.

Exercising helps our bodies overall – no further details needed to remind you of its importance.   

Social connection alters our motivational landscape which will create the inertia to make more connections.

Whilst recognising that ‘it is ok not to be ok’, do not be afraid to seek professional help.

“I think I need help.”  is one of the most courageous yet fruitful deed one can do for oneself.

Asking for help often makes people feel uneasy because it requires surrendering of control to someone else or they fear judgment.

 Perhaps it is time to remember too, that the human brain is highly adaptable.  Flashback to the time you struggled with video linked meetings; how exhausted we all felt but these days, it has become part & parcel of our daily lives that we no longer feel the initial exhaustion.  In fact, there many who are bemoaning the fact that they might have to return to the office!  This adaptability is called neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to adapt to changes in an individual’s environment by forming new neural connections over time. Neuroplasticity explains how the human brain is able to adapt, master new skills, store memories and information and even recover after a traumatic brain injury.

 As we wait out the end of this pandemic, let us focus on elements and areas of our lives we can control, adapt to and change.  From this, we can also choose to count the areas of our lives that has, in fact, turned out more positively, list the lessons learnt and continue trudging on this path toward the new normal.  

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