It’s been a long time since I wrote a blog. But last night, when I was having trouble sleeping, I decided to be both productive and find the silver lining by writing down the thoughts circulating in my head. I know there has been a lot of “fake news,” but here are three things I know are true about coping effectively with the new upside-down world of coronavirus.
Be Productive with Your Worry
It is understandable that both adults and children can feel overwhelmed during these times. However, did you know that some worry is good? Worry alerts us of ongoing danger and makes us prepared. What is key is how you worry. Productive worry is when there is an acute problem (i.e., coronavirus), and you recognize the problem and make a plan for it (e.g., wash your hands for two times the ABC song, wear a mask, socially distance). Unproductive worry is when you either ruminate about an unsolvable problem (e.g., “I can’t find toilet paper!”), or when you worry about a problem that is very far away (e.g., What life look like in September 2020 or 2021, etc.). Productive worry is helpful, unproductive worry is not! So, if you find yourself marinating in far-off or unresolvable issues, switch your concern to productive worry by making a plan that is in your control.
Make Uncertainty Your Friend
Yes, you heard me correctly. Try to make uncertainty your friend. One of the hardest things about living with coronavirus is its uncertainty. Will there be summer camp for our lovely darlings? What will school look like in the fall? What will happen with my family’s health or my job? All these concerns are understandably big ones. However, my job as a psychologist is not to help people find magic wands to undo these events, but rather to help them ride these waves. We are certainly facing big waves that might go on longer than we would like or want. Yet, within these waves are opportunities that will allow us to surf better in the future.
Social Support Is the Antidote to Stress
Sometimes the waves are too much for one person to handle. So, what can, or should you do? Get a coach, friend, or family member to help you.
I don’t surf, but I do ski. A few weeks before this coronavirus hit, I had the opportunity to go skiing with my kids in Zermatt, Switzerland. However, without knowing the language, being on a mountain large enough that it covers both Italy and Switzerland and skiing with two children who ski at different levels, I needed a guide. By having this support, most of the stress was taken out. (Although, we did have one hairy moment when we weren’t sure we would get back to Switzerland from Italy before the lifts closed.) By having this support, my family and I were able to truly experience this once-in-a-lifetime adventure (See attached pictures).
So, to recap, when coping with Coronavirus, be productive when feeling worried, learn to ride the waves or ski the slopes. However, if you find yourself unwittingly on your own “black diamond hill,” get the support you need so that you can find the silver lining in the challenges you face.
Caren Baruch-Feldman, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and a certified school psychologist. She maintains a private practice in Scarsdale, NY, and works as a school psychologist in the Harrison Central School District in Westchester, NY. She has worked for over twenty years in schools. She is author of The Grit Guide for Teens.