How should I feel during a pandemic?

Over the past week, our lives have literally been turned upside down by the Coronavirus.  I wanted to discuss how we should feel during a pandemic.

I help clients work through negative emotions of every-day life stressors. So, how do you manage your emotions during an actual pandemic? How do you handle anxiety from constant coverage on the news, quarantines, fear over losing a job or retirement savings, and the health and safety of loved ones? You may also feel sadness from canceling life events, or boredom from being stuck at home.

Let’s address this in a couple of ways. First, your feelings are real, and you are not wrong to feel however you do. Don’t let anyone shame you into thinking that you shouldn’t be anxious or scared. On the other hand, don’t judge someone else for feeling scared if you’re not. We all experience the world through our own eyes and just because someone else reacts one way, it doesn’t mean you should.

Second, I often help clients change the way they think by untwisting negative thoughts (when we get stuck in distorted thinking). However, not all negative thoughts are distorted. There are many valid reasons to feel sad, angry, worried, fearful, etc. If this pandemic causes me to lose my job, I should worry.  Having my life come to a halt will most likely cause boredom and stress.

So, all feelings are real, and an epidemic is a valid reason to worry. Now what? It’s important to manage our feelings for our emotional well-being. Here are a few ideas to help you manage through the next few weeks:

  • Deep breathing: Powerful grounding technique (breath in for 8 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, and blow out)
  • Accept negative feelings. Process your feelings vs avoiding them
  • Write down negative thoughts and look for any distortions (twisted thinking) that might be making your feelings worse. A couple of examples that might apply here:
    1. All or Nothing Thinking: thinking in absolutes
    2. Mental Filter: only focusing on the negatives
    3. Future Telling: assuming the worst will happen
    4. Blame: there is no value in dwelling in blame
  • Consider what you can control and what you can’t control
  • Talk about how you feel. Connection with others is the best antidote for depression and anxiety
  • Rely on Faith: Find comfort in your Father’s arms
  • Find healthy ways to self sooth, grow, enrich your life
  • Have a routine: Having things to do is helpful

If you are still struggling to handle your emotions, consider seeing a therapist. Many (including myself) are still seeing clients and also offering video sessions.  My heart and my prayers are with everyone who is suffering.  Take care of each other and God Bless!

Chris Guzniczak

Licensed Professional Counselor Intern

Under Supervision of Tiffany Smith LPC-S, LMFT-S, NCC

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