How To Cope During Covid-19

Hello. Let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Laurie Shoats. I am a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and I have been in practice for over 30 years in South Florida. My specialty is families and relationships.

There are definitely some common challenges that people have been experiencing during this Covid-19 pandemic. Let’s talk about the biggest one which is stress caused by fears.

Some of the most obvious fears are:
1. Fears regarding our health and safety as well as the health and safety of our loved ones.
2. Fear of the unknown.
3. Fears relating to money. 
4. Fears regarding if and when things will go back to “normal“. 
5. Fear about whether or not their relationship can survive quarantine.  

Of course there are many more but these are the most common ones that most people are experiencing.   Being able to cope with these fears is going to be paramount. 
We need to make sure that we have healthy coping skills. 
Healthy coping skills are going to be essential for our psychological/mental/emotional survival.  
We also need to be able to provide and encourage healthy coping skills for our children as well. The best way for us to encourage healthy coping skills for our children is to be a role model for them. *We need to set the example for our kids. 

There are an infinite number of coping skills available and you need to find several that you can incorporate and use at various points of the day whenever you need them.  We all need to have an arsenal of coping skills readily available that will fit whatever situation we are experiencing.   

Some healthy coping skills that many people have been finding effective are trying to get at least 10 minutes a day of exercise, trying to stick to a healthy food regimen, listening to or reading books, staying in touch with friends, self care,  taking longer than usual baths or showers, daily walks, meditating, journaling, turning to your religious/spiritual beliefs, cooking, yoga, bike riding, golf, photography, painting, fishing, organizing, volunteering, listening to music and playing an instrument, learning a new skill, pausing and taking several slow and deep breaths, and ***taking a break from disturbing media content.  

Personally, I use deep breathing, grounding myself to be present, organizing, and exercising as my go to coping skills.

Using coping skills regularly can help to take the edge off of our fears enabling us to think a little more clearly and regulate our stress. An interesting thing about fears is that when our brain experiences fearful thoughts it cannot distinguish between a thought and an actual experience.  So when we are thinking fearful thoughts then our brain registers it as if we are actually experiencing the fearful situation that we are thinking of. 

This puts most people in a constant state of fight, flight or freeze.  Stress causes our adrenal glands, which are located at the top of the kidneys, to release the hormone Cortisol into our bloodstream which is known as the stress hormone.  **This stress hormone can wreak havoc on our bodies. 

Some of the long term risks of increased Cortisol in the bloodstream include anxiety, depression, weight gain, digestion issues, heart issues, headaches, issues relating to sleeping, and memory or focus issues.

Incorporating these coping skills can help to reduce the amount of cortisol get that gets released thus reducing the risks mentioned above.  

Another way to cope with fears is to lean into and experiencing our feelings.  Although this may seem undesirable, trust me. The only way to heal from our feelings is to feel our feelings. (I will go into later detail regarding this in another article.)

One more piece of science to support us needing health coping skills is that when our bodies are in a state of fight, flight or freeze then our ability to be at peace, compassionate, loving and empathetic are temporarily suspended. Think about it…if an animal or human are in survival mode then how good are they going to be at being loving or compassionate in that moment? All of their energy in their body is ready to help themselves survive and there is no energy left (at that moment) to be loving. Once the perceived threat is gone then the love and compassion can return. Thank goodness!

Take inventory of what situations cause you the most fears and reduce exposure to them whenever possible. Play around with these coping skills and see which ones help to take the edge off.

Self-care is a huge one. Many people fall into the trap of trying to make sure everybody else is happy that they forget about taking care of themselves. Take time daily to take care of yourself. **You can’t pour from an empty cup.

** Take care of yourself first so you can best take care of those who depend on you. ** You have my permission to do this.
This is mandatory!  

~~Many therapists such as myself are up and running and taking clients.~~

If you feel that you could benefit from some added support don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional to get yourself back on track. 

Do you have any further questions?

Call me, let’s chat. 

Laurie Shoats LMFT

Real Life Solutions Counseling, Inc.
Coral Springs, Florida
I am currently taking on new clients and because of this pandemic I am strictly doing phone sessions to keep everyone safe and healthy.