I continue where I left off in Part I of “Covid-19—How Do We Cope?” To recap: my proffered coping strategies included, i) keep calm and carry on; ii) live one day at a time; iii) try to be grateful.
To be clear, I struggle as much as the next person dealing with this remarkable change in how we live our lives: how we deal with isolation (and as a corollary, loneliness); how we deal with boredom; how we socialize; how we conduct business.
Realizing my own shortcomings when it comes to providing advice on a subject of which I know little, I conferred with some doctors–more qualified than I to offer valuable insight–on how to cope…
- Moderate your media exposure. The news has a penchant for sensationalism. Bad news sells: accentuate the negative, eliminate the positive. Media will dwell on that which is lugubrious—e.g. lives lost as opposed to lives recovered, progress made. Watch enough news to keep informed, but do not be consumed by the stories of doom and gloom.
- I previously suggested reaching out to others, helping others, in an effort to escape one’s own troubled mind. The converse holds true. If you are struggling, reach out to friends and loved ones. There is no shame in admitting you are having a bad time of it. Trouble shared is trouble halved.
- Keep moving. Do not become a couch potato. Exercise is important, for it increases one’s endorphin levels. What are endorphins? They are a group of hormones secreted within the brain and nervous system; peptides which activate the body’s opiate receptors, causing an analgesic effect. In other words, endorphins are natural pain killers because they activate opioid receptors in the brain that help minimize discomfort. An endorphin rush can help generate a feeling of general wellbeing.
- Do not seek your endorphin rush within the confines of your four walls. Go outside and breathe the fresh air. Enjoy the sun and the warmth (and yes, I do realize that we have had one of the crappiest springs EVER). As long as you are practicing safe social distancing, you have nothing to lose, but much to gain. The sun is a panacea for many woes.
5. Do not seek your endorphin rush through alcohol (or other mind-altering substances). Tempting indeed to seek solace in a sea of Chablis; but alcohol—the world’s most notorious depressant—offers short-term gain, for long-term pain. Your mind-altering substance might offer you an analgesic band-aid, but the relief is short-lived; the aftermath, not so much. Avoid that downward spiral.