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Everyone’s tired of talking about it, hearing about it, reading about it. You know what we’re alluding to: COVID. Who knew that Superbowl weekend would essentially be the close-out ceremony for the rest of the year? Maybe you had plans to do something big this year: you planned on applying to your dream job or finally buying that house you’ve had your eye on. Instead, you’ve spent months at home, scouring for masks and toilet paper, and longing for the day you can walk fearlessly into the grocery store again.

One of the hardest parts about the pandemic is how it has negatively affected most people’s perception of the future. Quarantine and social distancing are ushered in and out, with no end in sight. As badly as we all want to go back to “normal,” we need to learn how to cope with our current situation and not let it crush our spirits. Wanting to change a situation that we have no control over only makes things worse. Instead, let’s focus on what we can do.

Anxiety, Stress, and Grief: The COVID Chronicles

By now you’ve probably experienced some form of stress, anxiety, or grief associated with COVID. Stressed about you or your loved ones potentially getting infected. Anxious over the unknown. Devastated over losing a job, loved one, or the thought of your year being taken from you. Although these feelings are normal, it’s important to recognize when they are starting to become persistent

Anxiety and Stress: Signs and Symptoms

Stress and anxiety are not always bad. They can help you overcome challenges and dangerous situations like studying for a test or knowing not to walk too close to the edge of a cliff. It’s when stress and anxiety begin affecting your daily life that they become an issue. Here are some common symptoms people experience with stress and anxiety:

  • Muscle tension
  • Rapid breathing or heartbeat
  • Change in appetite
  • Hypersomnia or insomnia
  • Fatigue
  • Panic or nervousness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings

Grief: Signs and Symptoms

Many people associate grief with losing a loved one. However, grief is for any type of loss. You could be grieving your past life without even realizing it. Feelings of sadness, anger, and moodiness are common during this process. There are five stages of grief:

  1. Denial: “This didn’t happen,” or, “This can’t be happening”
  2. Anger: “I hate my situation,” “If she cared about herself more, this wouldn’t have happened,” or, “It’s a horrible company anyways.”
  3. Bargaining: “If only she stayed home,” “Maybe if the flight had been canceled,” or “If only I had worked harder.”
  4. Depression: “Why is this happening to me?” “How am I supposed to move on from this?”
  5. Acceptance: “It’ll end at some point.” “I’m lucky to have had those great memories together.” “There’s always another opportunity for me.”

It’s normal to have these feelings but it’s pivotal that we focus on changing our mindset when it becomes overwhelming or negative. To combat anxiety, stress, or to help you move through the stages of grief, try things like going outside and getting fresh air; schedule a video chat date with a friend; and reach out to a therapist or counselor when you need a little extra help.

Changing Your Mindset

It’s okay to not like your current situation, but it’s important to stay positive as best you can. Positive mindsets = positive outcomes. While it may be easier said than done, it is possible. We’ve come up with a list of activities that can help you kickstart your new positive mindset:

  • Create a vision board: You may be thinking that this is cheesy. But really, they work! Vision boards are a great way to display what you want in life and can be a physical representation of the goals you want to achieve. Hang your vision board in a place that you pass by every day as a simple reminder of what you are working towards. Vision boards make you think about what you want and help you get out of your funk.
  • Dig deeper: In a time full of uncertain emotions, it’s a chance for you to connect with yourself and even with your friends and family on a deeper level. Take the time to ask more thought-provoking questions like: What’s one thing you wish people understood about you? There is a game called We’re Not Really Strangers that helps facilitate deeper conversations. Opening up can stimulate meaningful connections and conversations during difficult times.
  • End “Yes, but”: “Yes, but…” is a way to create negative thoughts. During the pandemic, for example, you might answer the question “Are you appreciating the ability to slow down?” with, “Yes, but I can’t go on vacation,” or, “Yes, but I hate being inside all day.” Flip your narrative to be yes, It helps you change your state of mind and forces you to be more positive. Try to answer with, “Yes, and I’ve been able to focus on my mental health more.”
  • Take time to learn something new: Maybe there’s a craft you’ve always wanted to try like making homemade candles. Maybe you’ve always wanted to start a business but don’t know where to start. Use this unique time in life to focus on things you want to do and actually do them. Yes, the pandemic has put a damper on a lot of things, but it is also allowing you to do something you wouldn’t have done otherwise.

Changing your outlook for the future goes beyond not wanting to be bored or “stuck” anymore. It’s about creating positive thoughts that allow you to flourish and live a happier, more successful life.

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Madison Bambini

Madison Bambini

Madison Bambini is a Communications Coordinator at Thriveworks. She received her bachelor's degree from VCU in mass communications, focusing on digital journalism and broadcast journalism. She also minored in gender, sexuality, and women's studies. Coupled with her love for writing, Madison enjoys producing content that is inclusive, empowering, and promotes the importance of mental health.

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