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COVID-19 – Negative emotions: how to get through the pandemic

On May 21, 2020

We are living in exceptional circumstances that may amplify your anger, your helplessness and your frustration toward reduced access and resources, for example. Although difficult to accept, these feelings are normal and natural.


Keeping in mind that this situation is a first and that all spheres involved (social, medical governmental) are reacting to the best of their knowledge and ability may be the starting point for less bleak thoughts about the reality. Although certainly little consolation, this may help in “normalizing” this period of time and accepting it as much as possible, taking into account the extra difficulties it creates.

How can you manage your negative emotions on a daily basis? Solutions exist to ease your mental load. Talking about your fears and frustrations to your family at home or on the telephone or turning to outside resources are some of the steps that will help you cope during this time.

 

Keeping your sanity

Finding glimmers of hope, seeking the positive, convincing yourself that the skies will clear after the rain ... Far from futile, these ideas can help you think about perspectives other than those conveyed by the information, recommendations and rules of confinement. Do not feel guilty for allowing yourself to be less concerned, to have joyful thoughts, even to laugh. Any reflections that you allow to reduce your level of stress and vulnerability will make a difference in improving your well-being and that of your loved one.

Your mental health is thus your pillar. What are some concrete things you can try to preserve and ease it?

  • Do not underestimate your ability to tackle challenges. Remember the difficulties that you have already overcome and how you did so.
  • Structure your concerns: a very mathematical idea to help you understand the importance of “categorizing” what worries you. What are your current problems? Those that could be complicated? Those that are only hypotheses? What can you resolve fairly easily? Using what methods? This action plan may seem difficult at first but taking the time to think about this now could give you a greater and more measured understanding of the situation. This step back could then remove or reduce the source of stress.
  • Try to confront your concerns by calling them into question: why do I think that? What is it that bothers me?
  • Along the same lines, taking the time to identify the “parasitic” thoughts and trying to keep them at bay can help you move in a more optimistic direction.
  • Keep a journal to organize your thoughts, name your emotions and feel appreciation for an action, a person or an event that inspires you, relaxes you or calms you.
  • Every day, try to do an activity that makes you feel good (dance, sing, knit, read, meditate, listen to music, etc.).

 

Combining reality and optimism

Showing optimism may seem easier said than done. Between “magical thinking” and illusion, you might have the impression that you are hiding your vulnerability, rather than asking yourself what the exact source of the problem is. How can you envision optimism at this time?

  • Do you always see the “glass half empty”? Being a pessimist can – in a way – give you better guidance in your decisions. Considering the potential obstacles, you might discover untapped abilities to mobilize your resources.
  • Take the time. Whatever your predicament, you will need to study it, ask questions, get advice and check with reliable resources. This way, you will have the opportunity to gather all the constructive elements and reach an informed decision.
  • Integrating optimism to keep your sanity also includes your ability to be indulgent toward yourself, to be able to forgive yourself and to accept that you may not always have the answer to every question or the solution to every problem.

Reflecting on the causes of your fears and your concerns is also a form of acceptance. Naming them, looking at the situation from another perspective and taking the time to “digest” them might calm your mind.

Beyond your personal analysis, seeking comfort in exchanges is important. If you can, do not remain alone: whether with your life partner, your family or your friends, you could quickly measure the benefits of sharing, communication and venting your more delicate experiences.

 

Resources are available, do not hesitate to contact them

Have you tried to find a balance between your concerns and everyday life, but failed to manage your emotions despite everything? Know that competent and free resources remain available to listen to you.

By telephone: 1 855 852-7784

By email: [email protected]

 

The Ordre des Psychologues du Québec (in French) is also regularly updating its psychology tips and information to support the public during the pandemic.


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