Your Pandemic Coping Plan
Some questions to consider as we all try to cope with our new reality.
Trauma is an overwhelming or scary life event that exceeds coping resources. Global pandemic, anyone?
Today, I want to share a few questions that may help you, your family, and your team cope with our new reality.
During this scary time, remember that what works for others may not work for you. Responses to trauma and chronic stress are unique to the individual, and so are effective coping mechanisms.
Some questions to ask yourself this week to develop or strengthen your pandemic coping plan:
What helps you feel physically safe? What do you need when you leave the house to feel safe? For me, I always want to have a mask and hand sanitizer.
What is your routine when you leave the house that will help ensure you have what you need? Our family has a bowl of clean masks and a container labeled “Dirty” by the front door for masks. This way, we can grab a mask when we leave, and deposit the mask when we get home. Structure and predictability often increase feelings of safety. This routine has increased my feelings of comfort and safety.
What physical boundaries are important to you? If your neighbor comes over to chat, are you prepared to ask them to maintain the physical distance that is comfortable for you? What about inside your home: what do you need to feel safe? If you feel threatened by someone in your home, please know that domestic violence hotlines are operating and available to assist you.
What helps you feel emotionally safe? It’s okay if what works for you is different than what works for others. Some people want to connect over Zoom with friends often. Others want to slow down the pace of everything – including social interactions. For some lucky enough to still have a job, work is a solace and useful distraction. For others, trying to work (often with children and others as new co-workers!) is draining and requires extra self-care. Remember to pay attention to what is working for YOU.
What resources do you have, and which do you need? Who can you ask for help? Many people have begun to share the sentiment, “We are all in the same storm, but we’re not all in the same boat.” Some of us may have entered the storm more or less resourced than our neighbors. It’s okay to need help and it’s okay to ask for help. Don’t feel comfortable talking to your friend? Text a crisis text line. Need some extra food to stretch that unemployment check? Google mutual aid groups or food distribution sites in your neighborhood.
What coping mechanisms that you’ve used in the past are still working? What new ones might you want to try? You don’t have to figure this out on your own – talk to someone you trust. During periods of chronic stress, it’s important not to forget that you live in a body! What can you do to calm your nervous system? Deep breaths, movement (running, yoga, walks), baths, a body scan and other body-based coping mechanisms may help.
Be gentle with yourself and those around you, and remember you are not alone! Reach out to me if you want some help creating a plan.