3 Ways to Overcome the COVID Blues
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the lives of everyday people while also bringing a new series of challenges to the field of psychological counseling. While much attention has been given to the virus’s physical consequences, many have failed to address the significant impact it has had on psychological well-being. For instance, those who live in South Korea may ask, “This country has done a pretty good job at containing the virus, then don’t we have less to worry about?”
Some research shows a deterioration in the overall psychological well-being in South Korea, despite what many define as successful control of the COVID-19 pandemic. In that study cited above, 45% of respondents reported clinical levels of depression, anxiety, or stress, and psychosis-risk was found to be present in 12.8% of respondents. Therefore, one can say that psychological counseling services are indeed necessary in addition to physically containing the virus.
COVID Anxiety in South Korea
Even with a greater understanding of how to keep the pandemic physically contained and an ongoing loosening of related restrictions, the general public has suffered from poor psychological well-being as a result of overall elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and fear that interferes with daily functioning, as well as depressive symptoms that may result from prolonged social isolation.
With limited access to support systems, it is more important than ever to find ways to take care of our minds and ourselves. This post explores three key tips on how to deal with stress as the pandemic continues.
1. Stay Connected During the Pandemic
The mutual support we have with those we trust is an important source of comfort during difficult times. Even in the midst of social distancing, there are still ways to maintain contact with your loved ones, including email, phone, and messenger.
You can utilize technology as a medium in which to connect with friends and family, with a recent uptick in more accessible ways to organize video calls with groups, such as Google Meet or Zoom. There have also been ways to engage in low pressure, but fun online activities (e.g. 10 Things to do on a Video Call) that can be paired with video calls to create a sense of participating in activities together. Get creative and reach out to those close to you to rediscover the sense of community. Staying connected to your social network is a great way to not only receive, but to also give support to those who need it. Assisting others through difficult times can benefit both yourself and the person receiving that support.
2. Maintain a Daily Routine
In difficult times, maintaining a daily routine can be of great help. Having structure in your day-to-day adds a sense of reliability and predictability to your daily life which helps reduce the stress that comes with the unpredictable nature of the pandemic. Additionally, sticking to a routine can give you a sense of control as well as improve your concentration and productivity levels.
Here are some tips for creating/maintaining a routine:
A routine should have clearly defined moments — such as when you wake up, eat meals, exercise, and go to bed — but it should also be flexible enough so you can adjust to what ever might come up on any given day.
A great way to find the energy to go about your day can be by following a few simple, beneficial steps. For example, you can make your bed as soon as you wake up, and while this might appear to be deceptively simple, the act of making your bed can help boost productivity levels by starting a chain reaction of other productive activities. A few other examples of low effort, yet beneficial steps include washing your face after waking up, making a definite “getting ready” order that you follow every day, and making a to-do list for each day.
An important thing to keep in mind, however, is that different strategies work for different people. Some people thrive on highly structured schedules, while others do well with a general list of things to get done for the day. Pay attention to how you are feeling throughout the day and adjust your plan to suit what works best for you. Being mindful of how you feel as you follow your routine is one key factor to creating a routine that works for you. Remember, maintaining a daily routine takes time and practice, just like creating any new habit, so be kind to yourself; plans don’t always go as planned!
3. Get Information only from Trusted Sources
With the unpredictable nature of the ongoing pandemic, a vast amount of information and updates regarding COVID-19 are at our disposal. While it is important to be informed, so that we can be ready to take protective measures, too much exposure to negative media can be detrimental to our psychological well-being. Thus, it is beneficial to minimize watching, reading, or listening to negative news, and you should seek information only from trusted sources, such as the US Embassy or Korean Center for Disease Control. Popular news sources that cater to English-speaking residents include the Korea Herald, Korea Times, and Korea JoongAng Daily.
Minimize Exposure to News that Distresses You
According to the WHO (World Health Organization), another way to preserve your psychological well-being is to find positive and hopeful stories of people who have experienced COVID-19 and share them with those around you. Stories are powerful tools that allow you to convey ideas and values, and those with a positive message could help diminish the stress and anxiety of the pandemic and help us maintain a more productive and optimistic outlook.
Don’t give up!
I hope these tips will help you persevere during these difficult times. Remember, stay connected with your loved ones, keep up a flexible & healthy daily routine, and stay informed & hopeful with trusted resources!
Please see our other blog posts and pages for more useful information and tips.