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How to feel human in the middle of a pandemic

Published Apr 30th, 2020 9:48AM EDT
coronavirus anxiety
Image: Martin Lee/Shutterstock

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  • Everyone is feeling weird these days, but connecting to each other is a good way to help us stay grounded and manage our feelings.
  • Therapists recommend connecting virtually over apps regularly and accepting the current state of things as it is.
  • Managing stress and anxiety can be done in a number of ways, from exercise to journaling, and it’s all about finding what’s right for you.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

We’re all feeling a bit, well, not normal right now. The 24-hour news cycle is dominated by bad news (that’s not really out of the ordinary, I guess), we can’t visit friends or loved ones with the freedom that we used to, and we’re all living under the weird shadow of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It’s not easy, and if you’re feeling gross or out of sorts, you’re definitely not alone. Humans are social creatures, and forcing us to stay away from one another can have a serious impact on mental health. A new article on PopSugar offers a few helpful tips from a professional therapist on how to tackle the strange new normal.

The article — which is totally worth a read, by the way — lays out some advice from Jor-El Caraballo, a Licensed Mental Health Counselor out of New York City. His tips are straightforward and easy to follow. The challenge, of course, is to push yourself to do them even when you’re not feeling quite right.

The first step, Caraballo says, is accepting the current state of things. Nothing is normal, and that’s something that none of us can really do anything about. You’re not going to solve a global pandemic by laying on the couch and worrying about, but you can be more in charge of your own feelings, he suggests.

“Sometimes one of the things that happens first is that we cause a lot of extra tension because we’re rejecting something so much, and that actually keeps us from problem-solving and managing,” Caraballo told PopSugar.

Next, Caraballo suggests focusing on the ways in which we can still connect with one another, even if that means staring at a screen. Facetime, Skype, and Zoom gatherings are all ways we can get some face-to-face interaction with others, even if we’re sitting in different locations. He says that focusing on fun interactions like playing games can help bring up everyone’s mood.

If you’re spending time alone, whether by choice or necessity, focusing on reaching goals can be a good idea. Learning new skills or picking up a hobby you’ve long since abandoned can bring you back to the moment. But don’t force yourself, Caraballo says, to do more than you think you can handle.

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