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COVID Coping: Navigating Emotions

Jun 25, 2020 Decorative image

Our world has changed. In addition to adapting to changes in our physical world, many of us are also experiencing changes in our emotional world: grief, judgment and loneliness.

Grief

What’s that feeling? It may be grief. “We are all dealing with the collective loss of the world we knew,” states David Kessler, a renowned grief expert, in a podcast interview with Brené Brown.

Grief is typically associated with death. However, it can follow any type of loss, such as the loss of a job and economic stability, the loss of routines and traditions, and the loss of seeing family and friends.

Grief is a normal reaction to loss, and it’s important to acknowledge that. Here are some other things you can do that may help you navigate the feelings associated with the loss of our normal:

  • Be patient and take time to feel. Grief is a process.
  • Practice self-care. Make it a priority to maintain healthy habits.
  • Reach out to caring people and share your feelings.
  • Distance yourself from people who aren’t compassionate or understanding.
  • Focus on what you have. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
  • Explore coping techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga and exercise.
  • Seek professional counseling if you feel you could benefit.

Judgment

You’ve probably noticed it already. It’s everywhere—the temptation to judge others for their choices and how they are responding to COVID-19 in a reopening world. Have you been tempted to judge someone lately for the following?

  • Wearing or not wearing a mask
  • Going or not going out in public
  • Gathering at a neighbor’s house
  • Forgetting to cough in their elbow
  • Sneezing in public or at work

As my friend shared on social media the other day, “Judgment destroys us.” Not only can it harm our relationships with others, the stress of judging also can undermine our well-being.

We can’t control others and how they act. We can only control our own actions and emotions. So, start by being self-aware. The urge to judge is going to arise. When it does, forgive yourself and choose not to judge next time. After all, the person not wearing a mask may have underlying health issues that prevent it. The small group of people standing inches apart breathing on each other may all live in the same household. Focus on what you can control, and don’t let judgment destroy you.

Loneliness

Loneliness was a concern even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it’s even more of a concern. In a recent study by SocialPro, 30.8% of U.S. adults surveyed said they feel lonelier because of COVID-19.

In his book “Together,” Dr. Vivek Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the U.S., states that loneliness is a universal condition that affects all of us directly or through the people we love. Many people think loneliness is dependent on the number of friends one has. However, Murthy argues that it’s the quality of our relationships that impacts loneliness the most.

Murthy shares four strategies in his book that can help us improve the quality of our relationships not only during this strange time of physical and social isolation, but in the future as well:

1. Spend at least 15 minutes each day with those you love.

2. Focus on each other and give one another undivided attention—no multitasking, especially on virtual platforms.

3. Embrace solitude. Connecting with yourself is a prerequisite for connecting with others.

4. Help and be helped. Give and receive service to strengthen social bonds.

Take Action

In his book “Permission to Feel,” Marc Brackett, Ph.D., the founder and director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and a professor at Yale’s Child Study Center, writes, “It’s been said we need to feel to heal. And when we can’t recognize, understand, or put into words what we feel, it’s impossible for us to do anything about it: to master our feelings—not to deny them but to accept them all, even embrace them—and learn to make our emotions work for us, not against us.”

Take time to recognize, understand and make your emotions work for you. For more on COVID coping, read these blog posts:

The above information does not constitute advice. Always contact your insurance broker or trusted adviser for insurance-related questions. Visit the Hylant Coronavirus Resource Center to access a wide variety of materials designed to help you navigate these unprecedented times.

Author Maddison Bezdicek, Health Strategies Practice Leader, Hylant Employee Benefits Practice