Coping in the Age of Covid-19
by Toni DiMargio MS, LPCC-S
Every day is Tuesday, or so it seems. Living with the fear of contracting Covid-19 has left many people either choosing to remain home or being forced to stay home. Despite the recent protests, people are still being encouraged to maintain social distancing and to work from home whenever possible. Because of Covid-19, recent protests, and uncertainties about the future, many people are experiencing more anxiety than ever before. What can a person do to ease their stress? To enjoy life again? To be “normal”? Following are a few suggestions.
- Go OUTSIDE! Yes, sunshine and fresh air seem to act as an elixir for what ails you. We are fortunate in the Mahoning Valley that we have Mill Creek Park with its beautiful trails and lakes – and it’s free! Regardless of where you live, give yourself the pleasure of taking a walk, even if you don’t leave your own neighborhood.
- Social-distancing may be the current buzzword, but it’s not what being a human is all about. People are inherently social creatures – we need to be around other people. With restaurants and cafes opening their outdoor patios (and even spacing their indoor seating), share a meal with a friend. If you’re still not ready for that amount of closeness, call a friend – phone, text, Facetime, or Zoom – use whatever means suits your comfort level.
- Many people are spending much of their day in their pajamas. Make and keep a schedule for yourself. Get up, get dressed, and get going. Even if the going is into the closet to grab the mop to clean the floor. Do something other that watching the news on TV or scrolling through Facebook. If you must watch the news, change it up. Get perspectives from different sources. And if you really just want to watch TV, find something funny or enlightening to watch.
- Practice mindfulness and gratitude. In other words, be in the present moment. It’s all we have. The past is done – learn from it; don’t dwell in it. The future is yet to come – we can spend days and months worrying about what will happen next, losing the opportunity to enjoy the present moment. Most of the time, our worries don’t even come to fruition. Again, all we have is the here and now. Recognize the colors around you, the smell of the air, the beauty of a sunrise or sunset, a flower blooming, or even appreciate a freshly mopped floor! Being mindful is also being grateful. Inhaling the moment paying attention to your breath. Taking one minute to inhale and exhale slowly is an excellent stress reducer. You might also want to search the internet for tips on how to meditate. What’s great about meditating is that it clears your mind, and you can practice it whether you’re sitting still or walking. Now, if you’re having a bad moment, remember that it is temporary. Put a positive spin on your thoughts. You may also keep a Gratitude Journal in which at the end of each day you reflect on at least one experience that day for which you are grateful. It can be something as simple as finding a penny in the driveway. We’re not reaching for the stars here; we’re just making life a little easier.
- Remember, we can only control our own thoughts and choose our own actions. We cannot control the virus or others’ actions. So make the choices that will benefit you and, hopefully, those with whom you share your time.
Good luck. Remember, we’re all in this together!
Toni DiMargio is a Licensed Professional Clinicial Counselor – Supervisor. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Youngstown State University in 1988, and graduated from YSU’s Master’s Program in Community Counseling in 1992. Working with clients of all ages for over 20 years, she currently specializes in counseling couples. In 1995, she became the owner and CEO of Churchill Counseling Services. In 2004, Toni received YSU’s Outstanding Alumnus/Counseling award. She has served as a member of YSU’s Beeghly College of Education Professional Education Council, YSU’s College of Education/Counseling Department Advisory Board, and Boardman Rotary. She currently is a volunteer with the Ebony Lifeline Support Group. As a consultant, Toni has worked with businesses and conducts professional education workshops. She is also an adjunct professor at Youngstown State University.