Because coping with COVID is such a vast topic, I will break this blog post into three parts. The first section will focus on handling the longer wait to get through the continued pandemic. The second section will focus on the strain of trust to the system we have in place to handle things like the pandemic. The final section will focus on what we can learn from our 2020 experience to best inform our decisions and coping strategies moving forward (although this theme will also be peppered throughout the other sections as well).
In coping with COVID, many of us had the false impression that the end of 2020 would result in our being in a better place, especially in terms of the impact the pandemic has had on our daily lives. Coping with COVID in the second year will test our resolve, try our patience, and have us question what the “new normal” will be as things progress. Despite these changes, we can learn a lot from ourselves and how we cope with difficulty and strain by reflecting on 2020 and what we did well and what we didn’t.
The prospect of facing a second year (hopefully not the entirety of it) of COVID and its incredible social impact can feel like we are in what was meant to be a 1 mile race only to find that after completing a mile we don’t see the finish line at all. Resolving to continue to live our lives and attempt to minimize the influence COVID has on it will be a test to be sure. But here’s what you can do. Look back on 2020 and, first, find the areas of your life that remained relatively status quo. Rely on these aspects of your life to help with your resolve and support structure and consistency. Then, attempt to find methods to engage the areas of your life you felt were most neglected in 2020 in a safe and satisfying way. One particular example may be traveling — perhaps you will still put of traveling until 2022 or 2023; but that doesn’t prevent you from beginning to plan it now. Even the aspect of future travel can lighten the load and help you feel as if you are moving towards something. Save funds and prepare. Alternatively, you can start to consider travel that would be less of a safety risk — we witnessed this in the sheer number of national park visitors in 2020 (outdoors, social distance, breathtaking beauty).
Another aspect of continuous COVID presence in our lives is our stretched-thin patience being stretched even further. Similar to the aforementioned mile run that just doesn’t end, we may be feeling that we are done with the effort and waiting and ready to just stop. Unfortunately, this may prolong the timetable of public recovery and make us test our patience for an even longer period of time. When we are recovering from injury this is the typical consequence of attempting to return prior to the injury being fully healed. It may feel great to push that little bit to “get back to normal” but the sad truth is that it is more likely that this will result in re-injury or further injury (because of compensating) that leads to frustration and longer recovery times. Remaining steadfast on safety and keeping yourself and others healthy will only result in the time table being shortened whatever it may feel like from moment to moment. None of us wanted to have to deal with COVID on this ongoing basis but all of us are in the boat together. Support one another and reinforce the strategies that keep us sane and safe.