By Kaitlin Miller for The Active Times
Coronavirus Loss: How to Handle Grief During a Pandemic
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been tens of thousands of deaths in the U.S. from the novel coronavirus. Beyond the loss of life, this pandemic has led to a grim news cycle, government social distancing restrictions and an economic crisis leaving millions of Americans unemployed.
Fear, isolation and economic uncertainty can all have negative effects on mental health. People who have lost their jobs, their homes, their businesses or even a loved one during this time might not have adequate time and space to properly process and mourn. And even people who haven’t lost anything as concrete as a job or a loved one can also be affected by grief over seeing the world upended as our economic, healthcare and education systems struggle, according to the American Psychological Association.
Here are ways to care for your mental health after experiencing loss during the coronavirus pandemic.
Allow yourself to grieve
According to Mental Health America, grieving is the outward expression of your loss, whether that be physical, emotional or psychological. It’s important to allow yourself to express the emotions you’re experiencing and work through them. Repressing your feelings can actually cause you physical or emotional illness.
Maintain social contact
Even for the average American, lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues is a major lifestyle change that can be challenging to adjust to. According to Mental Health America, it’s important to stay in touch with supportive friends and family members who understand your feelings of loss — even if it’s remotely.
Open up to others
Connection can be difficult during this time of isolation, but it’s important to not only talk with other people but also open up and express all the feelings you’re dealing with. If you had to shutter your dream business, it could be helpful to vent about all the plans you had over the next few years. If you’ve lost a loved one, consider talking to someone who also knew them and sharing your favorite memories of the deceased.
Recognize physical symptoms of psychological problems
Your grief might not manifest in the ways you expect. Even if you’re not crying all the time, there might be other ways your body reacts. According to the CDC, physical reactions to a traumatic event include everything from headaches, body pains, stomach problems and skin rashes. If these reactions are interfering with your life to where you are unable to carry out your normal responsibilities, don’t ignore these symptoms — seek professional help.
Make time to unwind
While it’s good to fill your day with healthy, positive activities to keep you going and doing, don’t forget to still allow yourself some me-time to continue to process, decompress and destress.
Monitor behavioral changes
Grief doesn’t just look like sadness or depression. Feeling powerless and isolated after a traumatic event can also manifest as anger and being short-tempered, according to the CDC, as well as self-destructive or reckless behavior. Such behavior ironically stems from a place of self-defense but can endanger yourself and others around you.
Limit screen time
The WHO recommends anyone struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus pandemic should limit their screen time. While there are plenty of feel-good shows that could boost your spirits as well as ways to stay connected through social media, it’s important to take regular breaks from on-screen activities.
There are at least 20 more helpful recommendations to get us through this pandemic. We are so close, but may need a tip or two to manage the stress. Please click on the link below if you think some heartfelt advice is what may do wonders for how you are feeling.