Adapting in the Face of a Pandemic

Anna Schott, MSW, LISW-S

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Adapt – to make suitable for new use or purpose; become adjusted to new conditions (

COVID-19 has brought disruption to everyone’s lives in so many different ways.  I never imagined my life and daily routines would be so drastically altered in a week.  My kids are at home all day now instead of going to school and will probably finish up the school year interacting with their teacher and classmates through Zoom and being semi-homeschooled by myself and my husband.  We can’t go to restaurants or workout at the gym, and a trip to the grocery store feels like a wild goose chase trying to figure out what store stocks when and who will have everything on my list.  

My therapy practice has drastically changed as well.  Hardly anyone, clinician or client, is in the office, which is normally bustling.  We had to shut down our yoga studio, and I haven’t been able to practice in the space that has been my yoga home for years.  In just a few days, I had to figure out how to meet with clients remotely in case either one of us is quarantined. Teletherapy never was a platform I wanted to use because of the nature of the trauma work I do, but at this point, it isn’t a choice; it’s a necessity.

In short, everything is turned upside down and what was the norm a week ago, feels like ancient history and who knows if it will go back to that way of life ever again.  I spent the last few days grieving and feeling like I was living in crisis mode, trying to make sense of everything and finding a stable footing. I know my family is fortunate; my husband and I both still have our jobs and the ability to work from home, we have our health and endless resources.  Our theme for life today is adaptation, and we must find new ways to adjust to these new conditions.

Take time to grieve and have a breakdown.

There is so much turmoil and uncertainty now; acknowledging this can help you cope with these feelings.  And it’s okay to be sad about the more superficial changes like not being able to stop by Target randomly or having a mid-afternoon cappuccino at Starbucks.  Take the time you need to experience and process these feelings.

Be mindful and stay in the present moment.

Even with all the stress and chaos happening around us, there are so many positive moments that we could miss.  It could be your kids laughing and talking as they are playing Minecraft together or hearing the spring peepers at night.  By being mindful and paying attention, we can strengthen the importance of these positive moments.

Limit social media and the news.

It’s so easy to get caught up in minute by minute updates in the news and all of the commentary on social media.  It’s beneficial to stay informed but do so in small doses to avoid vicarious trauma.

Find control in the things you can.

There are so many restrictions being placed on us right now in regard to where we can go and who we can be around.  Businesses and restaurants are being told to close, people are losing their jobs, and normal resources are scarce. This can trigger a feeling of not having control, and it is important to find control in the things you can.  It may be as simple as setting a time to get up in the morning or when to eat meals. Take the initiative to turn off the news and limit social media and go outside for a walk.

You are not alone.

No one on this planet is immune to what is happening right now.  In different ways, everyone is affected by this pandemic. My hope is that we, as a global community, find solidarity in this.  It is a time to come together and find strength in this shared experience. If you feel that you are the only one overwhelmed, anxious, angry, remember, you are not alone.  We are all learning how to adapt, and we are all in this together.

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