Life during the COVID-19 pandemic is vastly different depending on circumstances. For some, it’s busier than ever trying to care for and educate children while working full time at home or at essential jobs. For others, life has become decidedly slower with endless hours to fill. But whether the struggle is too much on your plate or not enough, it’s common for people to feel a sense of loss, even grief as normal life, connections with others and routines have been swiftly and drastically altered.
Many older adults are feeling this sense of loss keenly. Older workers may have been retired early to help companies stay afloat, grandparents are unable to spend time with their grandkids, and all the anticipated joys of older age. Travel, adventure and spending time with friends and family are suddenly off the table. Because the future is unknown, seniors especially may be fearful about what will happen next, creating feelings of anxiety, stress or even anger.
Just like the loss of a loved one, losing what has been the focus of daily life can result in the same emotional roller coaster. According to a recent Healthline report, it can be difficult to maintain a balance when a sense of dread, frustration or hopelessness leads people to withdraw from others or have difficulty getting out of bed in the morning. But all of this chronic stress can keep the body’s cortisol and stress hormone levels elevated which can lead to health problems and impair the immune system’s ability to fight off infection.
By starting with self-care; making healthy meals, spending time outdoors, getting a little physical activity, drinking water and resting when needed, it’s possible to calm the grieving process. Finding a creative outlet is often beneficial, even if it’s writing a couple of sentences in a journal, playing music or meditating for a few minutes. There is no wrong way to practice self-care; be kind and gentle with yourself. Although you may feel like withdrawing socially, try to stay connected even if it’s by playing a virtual trivia game or hosting book club through a video chat. Little steps can help keep you moving forward.
For more tips on how to cope during the pandemic, follow this link to a recent Psychology Today post.