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The COVID-19 pandemic we are all currently living through has hit us suddenly. For some, this may have been quite overwhelming, bringing about various emotional stressors, including fear and anxiety, which are natural responses to such a situation. COVID-19 shook our ground and has disrupted our sense of familiarity. Our perceptions of contact with the environment, our relationship to the world, and our sense of self have been affected too. However, in our own individual way, we have tried our best to adjust to the situation.

With cases on the rise again, we may experience a lack of control and our future may once more seem uncertain. Restrictions have also been placed on the basic choices of deciding what we want to do, where we can go and who we can be with (Richter, 2020). As a result, people tend to dwell on what is out of their control, rather than focusing on what may be in their control. It is important to become aware, recognize and accept what is beyond our control; such as COVID-19, the uncertainty it brings with it, increasing numbers and other people’s actions and behaviours (Ali, 2020).  However, we must recognize that a lot of things are still in our control, and this can provide us with a sense of peace and stability (Richter, 2020).

Below is a list of the things that are in our control and what we should be mindful of.

  1. Doing our Part

Practice social distancing, avoid crowded places and wear a face mask or a visor where necessary. Be mindful of where you go and who you meet. Also, make sure to sanitize or wash your hands frequently.

2. Our Attitude

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference” (Winston Churchill). Holding a positive and optimistic attitude can help you filter out some worries and the constant discouraging news. This helps you to focus on the present and on what is needed now to get through the day, but it also provides a calm atmosphere for oneself and the people around. One can maintain a positive attitude through having a sense of gratitude and being thankful, creating a sense of routine, helping others, and appreciating the smallest things in life, such as nature itself (Floss, 2020)

3. Our Time

Due to restrictions, many activities and plans have been cancelled. Therefore, entertaining oneself may be a more difficult task. Invest time in the things you don’t usually have the time to do. A few ideas may be clearing up the storage room, exercising, boardgames, or even picking up a new hobby. Lastly, to those who have shifted to working online, remember to take a break once in a while. In your free time, try to avoid spending more time in front of a screen – this drains your eyes, your brain and your energy levels.

4. Caring for our Body and Mental Health

Take the time to breathe, to stretch or meditate. Try to eat healthy, balanced meals and try to engage in exercising – even a short walk helps. Take the time to be with yourself, to rest and to get plenty of sleep. Also, prioritize your mental health and do not be afraid to reach out.

5. Relationships

Our busy lives usually tend to limit our connections with others, especially with family members. Take the opportunity to connect through for instance, family game night, movie night or even a hike. Though physical proximity is restricted, connecting with relatives or friends is still very possible through technology.

Each and every one of us has tried to manage our way in the best way possible during such unstable times. Maintaining control requires a level of self-discipline and this may bring about its challenges. Some people may also have fewer choices. However, the main aim of this is to shift to a wider perspective where we not only realize what is beyond our control, but also to realise and to focus on what we can do in order to restore some form of control in our lives.

Michela Aquilina is a trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist who is currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy at the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute Malta (GPTIM) and is working as a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist with Willingness Team. Michela offers therapy to young adults and adults who are experiencing various challenges and issues relating to mental health and psychosocial, emotional wellbeing.

References

Ali, R. (2020). 5 ways you can feel more in control of your life during the COVID-19 pandemic. USA Today. Retrieved from: https://eu.usatoday.com/story/life/health-wellness/2020/04/16/how-feel-more-control-your-life-during-coronavirus-pandemic/5144201002/

Floss, S. (2020). Keeping a positive mindset amid COVID-19 pandemic. Sanford Health. Retrieved from: https://news.sanfordhealth.org/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19/coronavirus-wellness/keeping-positive-mindset/

Richter, J. (2020). Perspective on control during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mental Health Association in New York State, Inc. (MHANYS). Retrieved from: https://mhanys.org/perspective-on-control-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/