Riding the Emotional Rollercoaster in COVID -19
Updated: May 8
It has been around 7 weeks since we all started observing the stay-at-home directive. That meant going out only to get essentials like grocery, medicine, or food. We all started washing our hands and sanitizing more, wearing masks in public places, and social distancing. We are trying our best to keep up with ever-changing guidelines and to follow them. Keeping ourselves and others safe also meant not visiting friends and family. Zoom and other video meeting platforms surged in popularity. We are still trying to find some normalcy, comfort, and solace through it.
Since most of us started working from home, work-life balance got upended. We are juggling many responsibilities at once: meeting times, children, chores, cooking, and cleaning. Those responsibilities have created too much pressure on all of us, especially parents with young children. We also worry about our own parents because they are the most vulnerable. We cannot visit them for the fear of infecting them, the only thing we can do is a video call. This week, the news about children showing symptoms of infections added a whole new layer to our fear. In the meantime, watching and hearing news about the worldwide spread of coronavirus heightened our anxiety. Every country is in a different state so we started predicting what’s next for us.
Slowly we are realizing the toll this pandemic is taking on our healthcare and essential workers, people who are on the front lines battling the pandemic first hand. We watch as the unemployment numbers go up at a staggering rate. Our heart goes out to those who are suffering and we are finding purpose in activities that help us contribute to the wellbeing of others; sewing masks, volunteering at the food bank or registering for a state task force. There are multiple samaritans who are offering food to the needy. We are reaching out with kindness and empathy, sharing resources, and joining hands together. We are trying to make the situation better anyway we can.
At the same time, some people are pushing to reopen the economy. Some of us are watching in awe as people have started protesting on the streets, gathering on beaches, and demanding ‘freedom.’ Is it too soon? Are we ready to reopen? What if this move adds fuel to the fire and the infections spread at astonishing speed? Then what? Now we find ourselves with mixed feelings, both hopeful and scared. We do not know which step is in the right direction. Yes, we all would like to go back to life before COVID -19 but that does not seem likely in the near future. We cannot plan anything. Our annual summer vacation plans are folded up. We cannot have celebrations to mark the landmarks in life such as weddings and graduations. We are hesitant to plan events even for the next year because of the uncertainty surrounding the resurgence of the virus. The irony that time is passing by while our life is on a pause creates dissonance; a missed connection.
All of the above events and daily incidences create a whirlwind of emotions in us. Apprehension, sadness, anxiety, despair, shock, fear, joy, comfort, irritation, anger, boredom, anticipation, hope and kindness. No wonder we are feeling exhausted.
We have never undergone a situation like this before in our lifetime and it is definitely impacting our psyche. It feels like we are riding the emotional rollercoaster every day. Some days we are feeling fine, ready to work or try a new recipe. And some days we feel like hiding in our cave, pulling the curtains, soaking up in our worries, irritated at trivial matters, being fed up, frustrated, exhausted, and depleted. We get angry at posts asking us to stay positive and pick up a new hobby. This is all very new for us to tackle. It is overwhelming. And we are all going through it simultaneously.
So what can we do? How do we ride this rollercoaster of emotions without falling off?
Acceptance is the first step. Tell yourself that it is ok to feel your polarized feelings. Acknowledge that they are not permanent, they are not going to last forever, and yes, things will get better eventually.
Prioritize tasks and arrange your day in a way that suits you. Allow yourself to do what feels right for that moment. Do not feel pressured to pick-up a new hobby or to cook 4 meals a day because someone else did. Be okay with your messy home and dishes in the sink because you are trying to manage work from home and homeschooling your children.
Reach out and get help. It is okay to call your close friend, vent, and express your frustration. Reduce expectations from yourself and others. Be kind to yourself first so you can empathize with others.
Find time to take a break, even if just for 10 minutes, to gather yourself together. See if you can take leave from work for a day or two. Do the best you can, with the knowledge and resources you have at this moment. Give yourself permission to act according to your feelings for that moment or that day, knowing well that the next hour or the next day is not going to be the same. And that’s alright.