If one thing is true of COVID-19, it’s that our resilience has been truly put to the test. If your mind has been consumed by news about COVID, conversations on COVID, and consumption of COVID statistics, then you’re not alone.
With our minds so consumed by what’s going on, it’s no wonder so many people are struggling under the weight of their emotional and cognitive load. It’s certainly one of the most challenging events that we will experience because it has impacted the entire world.
So, how do you deal with it? How do you reduce that cognitive and emotional load of COVID?
First of all, I want to touch on the idea that this is your opportunity to write a best-seller or compose the next 1812 Overture. There have been a lot of hot takes on social media about how you can best use this downtime. If you haven’t ‘accomplished’ anything, that’s fine. Ultimately, we’re all just trying to get by and even though you may have more time on your hands than normal, your brain isn’t necessarily firing on all cylinders in a way that facilitates creativity.
You shouldn’t feel bad about that. However, if you went into this thinking you could be super productive and feel disappointed, don’t. This is where expectation management comes into play. There’s a lot going on, and this type of stress is distracting, it results in low motivation and disrupts concentration.
The pandemic has brought a series of cognitive and emotional load and that will impact on productivity. So, go easy on yourself as you find a new rhythm and routine in your life. Set realistic goals and manage expectations.
The foundation of good mental health has to lie in stress management. That means you need to prioritize sleep, eat well, exercise, and drink plenty of water. If you’re normally a good sleeper, don’t give in to the impulse to disrupt your routine. If you have always struggled with a sleep routine, now is your time to change that.
Maintain a routine around when you go to bed and when you get up, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and screens in an hour or two before bed. When under extreme stress, it’s easy to manage it with food and alcohol. It’s an understandable impulse, but it isn’t one you want to give in to. It will be damaging over the long-term. Exercise will help you reduce stress while boosting your emotions and providing you with sleep routine help.
Rely on Routine
A routine will help you manage your stress and anxiety levels, which is key to adapting to the new reality we are faced with. You should have clear boundaries between working hours and non-working hours. This is something you can do in your headspace as well as the physical workspace you use. Embrace things that provide you with joy.
Even the introverts need social connections, and it’s a particularly challenging time for extroverts. Create a virtual forum for your friends and family, have video chats over coffee, join a book club, do whatever it takes to maintain your social connections. It’s important that you don’t feel alone so be proactive. Even if you live with a spouse and children, it’s important to reach out beyond your closest ties to connect with others outside your immediate circle.
The best thing you can do to manage your load is to focus on things as they come by taking every day as it comes. It’s a stressful time for everyone and it’s going to put your mental health to the test. Take a proactive approach to protect your mental health and be kind to yourself and others.
Right now, there isn’t a whole lot for you to control. What you can control is how you speak to yourself, how you speak to others, and how you proceed through the rest of this pandemic.