Commentary: Tips for Staying Safe (Emotionally) as Pandemic Drags On
Dr. Lenore Tate | Special to California Black Media Partners
Many of us are tired, stressed and impatient having to live our lives under this seemingly never-ending pandemic.
In early spring, many of us were hopeful that COVID-19 was coming to an end. We began making plans for the summer, from visiting family and friends to attending concerts, plays, planning for vacations and special milestones, and basically “just returning to normal life activities.”
However, as life would have it, the Delta variant appeared. We were again confronted with the inability to control most aspects of our lives. In fact, most recently, scientists have purported that we may expect additional variants for years to come.
According to the California Department of Public Health, in February 2021, only 2% of Black Californians were vaccinated. However, as of October 5, 4.2 % of all Black Californians have received at least one dose of vaccine. Representing about 6 % of California’s overall population, we as a community remain behind on our vaccination rate.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the Delta variant have fundamentally changed many of our lives, the way we live and the manner in which we interact with each other, and how we live, work and play together.
This pandemic has reinforced that there are so many aspects of our lives that we cannot control. And anytime we cannot control our lives and/or our environment, we tend to feel helpless which leads to anxiety and possibly depression.
So, what can a person do, when life does not go as you planned and are impatient for this pandemic to end? Here are some tips that have been recommended by the experts:
- I know this might sound cliché, but recognizing and understanding your feelings, whether you are sad, angry, stressed, or frightened. Accept, do not negate, how you feel.
- The ability to bounce back and adapt to difficult situations is crucial to wellness. You have to believe in yourself, your ability to be strong and to try your best – relying on various proven self-care methods — to stay positive.
- Try having an attitude of gratitude. Think about just a few little things or events that are going well in your life daily and in the life of your family and friends.
- When you feel overwhelmed…. just breathe…Yes, literally, just breathe in through your nose, hold it and exhale through your mouth a few times or mediate by remembering a verse, phrase, poem, or visualizing a tranquil place for just a few seconds. Still yourself.
- Look back on the good times that you have had and treasure those memories.
- Plan a reasonably safe event you can look forward to in the near future that will bring you joy or fulfillment.
- Stop thinking negative. It’s difficult when life feels as if it’s spiraling out of control, but find ways to prove that your negative thoughts are either wrong or that the sky will not fall. Remind yourself that life and circumstances can and do change. Turn those negative thoughts into positive affirmations. Have faith and confidence.
- With so many things going on that are out of our control and often make us feel helpless, focus on what you CAN control in your life.
- Take care of yourself. Exercise, even walking 20 minutes a day, eating healthy, sleep on a regular schedule, turn off electronic devises at least one hour before bed, avoid alcohol and substance use, especially before bedtime, connect with community or faith-based organizations, and/or reach out to your local mental health provider, employee assistance program.
About the Author Lenore A. Tate, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Sacramento, California. She specializes in neuropsychology, behavioral health and geriatrics. She has previously worked as Principal Consultant to the California Assembly and Senate Health Committees as well as the Senate Office of Research.
Dr. Tate has also served as a media consultant and a university professor in Texas, Arizona and California. For further information, see www.Lenoretate.com. Call her at 916-947-8070 or email at: DRTATE20@gmail.com.