If you are reading this article, you have likely passed other articles alerting you to the increase in COVID rates of infection, variants, boosters, vaccines for your children, etc. Even if you haven’t read everything in the paper, you’ve likely heard this information somewhere. So much information at a time when a lot of us are feeling overwhelmed, tired and stressed out.
Overwhelmed from the level of panic that this information causes. Its scary to think about rates rising. Wasn’t the vaccine supposed to work? Why don’t we have some natural immunity yet? Haven’t I done everything I’m supposed to in order to fight this? Are we going to be okay? What about my kids? Should they be vaccinated, or not?
My answer: Talk to your doctor. Try to eliminate the information out there and go directly to a trusted medical professional. They can (and are often times happy to) answer all of your questions. They can then help guide you to make some of these difficult decisions. Getting information from too many untrusted sources can leave you feeling completely stuck.
Tired from the years of having to deal with this. Tired of sifting through the constant updates to protocols, managing the impact it has had on relationships, health, families, employment, finances. Tired of keeping strength while those around you crumble. Tired of crumbling when it all just feels too overwhelming.
My answer: Find resilience in radical acceptance. We need to put strength into dealing with what we can today and doing the best with the information we have available. The rest will come. No amount of fear or worrying will prevent this from happening. Someday we’ll be able to look back and realize how much we have learned. Until then, we need to focus on what we have control over and run with it.
Stressed out because we are facing another holiday season under the veil of a pandemic. Whether or not you think COVID is real, it will undoubtedly impact your holidays. Maybe you can’t get the items you wanted for your family because they are stuck on a barge somewhere. Maybe some of your family has decided to keep it small again this year. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one and this holiday will not be the same without them. Each and every single one of us share this same stress.
My answer: Turn that stress into kindness. When you are feeling grouchy and stressed out, turn it into an act of kindness. Pay it forward. Have patience and realize that the person you are dealing with could use a sincere smile, a “have a great day”, a “can I help you with that”, a “you’re doing a great job”. These things don’t cost us money and might at times fall on deaf ears, but I guarantee that if enough of us greeted each other with kindness instead of irritability, others would catch on. What I do know for sure is that you will leave that interaction with a smile on your face. And that’s a really great feeling.
So yes, this is an extremely difficult time in our lives. By no means am I trying to minimize the struggles that each and every one of us is going through. But I am trying to help you to realize that through some kindness, acceptance and guidance we WILL all be okay. We can work together to keep it simple, to go back to basics and in time, we will be on the other side of this.
If you find that you are truly struggling and cannot seem to find any joy in your days, please know that there are amazing people available to help. This does not have to be a forever intervention. Therapy, speaking with your religious leaders, support groups, etc can all help get you through this momentary darkness. Please just know that you are not alone.
Some resources to consider:
• National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK OR 1-800-273-8255
• Veterans Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255 and Pressing 1. You can also send a text to 838255.
• For crisis services in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
• Text CONNECT to 741741 (Crisis Text Line)
• Trevor Project-LGBTQ www.thetrevorproject.org
• Psychology Today https://www.psychologytoday.com/us
Lisa Coates, LCSW, is the operations manager of the Bristol Health Counseling Center which is located at 420 North Main Street, Bristol. For an appointment or additional information, please call 860-583-5858 or visit www.bristolhealth.org