The fact is, about 14 months ago, most of us faced changes to our lives that were more sweeping than any we had ever experienced in our lifetimes. On top of that change, we were asked to make sense of the flood of other changes without the benefit of some of our primary support systems like family, friends, co-workers, or places of worship.
But after 14 months of resilience and fortitude, we’ve gotten this far. Now, as we enter a more familiar day-to-day existence and lifestyle, it’s as important as ever to leverage entrusted support systems and make these new adjustments thoughtfully. Kevin Krippner, Ph.D., licensed clinical psychologist and clinical coordinator with Carle Physician's Group Behavioral Health Bloomington shares how to maintain balance while transitioning to our new normal.
How has COVID-19 affected our mental health?
Krippner: The pandemic has been difficult for many people. Locally, as well as nationally, cases of anxiety, depression and relationship issues have increased dramatically. Change is hard and COVID-19 created massive and frequent changes in our lives, some of which are also uncomfortable. Plus, many have experienced a pervasive sense of loneliness and loss.
Our gradual return to a “modified” new normal should be a welcome achievement, but why are many people finding it difficult to return to a new normal?
Krippner: A new normal is not our old normal – the life we had before the start of the pandemic. We are being asked again to make so many adjustments. Returning to workplaces, re-acclimating to social life and interacting with people face-to-face, changes in routines, procedures and policies, grieving the loss of family, friends and co-workers, and also careers…it’s a lot to process.
Do you have some suggestions to make the transition easier?
Krippner: Begin by asking yourself, what is going on? Try to anticipate some of the changes and some of the solutions. Anxiety is caused by our thoughts so we need to check in with ourselves every so often to make sure emotions aren’t running unchecked.
It sounds like self-care is critical. What tips can you offer to help keep a healthy balance and reduce anxiety and depression?
Krippner: We all have stores of physical and emotional energies and we run into trouble if we allow those reserves to be drained dry. If your stress level is rising, these strategies may help.
- Take care of business – try to fix the problem if you can
- Distract yourself – listen to music, take a walk, play a game
- Change your thinking – ask yourself if this is the way you want to live
- Practice self-care – eat a healthy diet, get restful sleep, get outside and exercise
- Connect with healthy people in your life – avoid negative people who drain you
- Find balance in your life – too much or too little of anything can be bad
Krippner: If your thoughts, feelings or mood start to interfere with your ability to function or you are misusing drugs or alcohol, it’s time to reach out for professional assistance. There are many types of therapists and doctors for you to choose from depending on your situation.
We all need to be patient and kind to ourselves as we navigate the new normal. Much of this will not feel good for a while. Make sure that contact with the healthy people in your life resumes, and continues regularly. We will get through this.
Visit carle.org for more information about behavioral health conditions and the many supportive resources available at a Carle Health location near you.
Categories: Staying Healthy