By Jelena Kecmanovic | washingtonpost.com
As the news about the coronavirus pandemic becomes grimmer, and governments and businesses issue closing or work-from-home directives, many of us are experiencing a variety of negative emotions. We feel anxiety in response to the uncertainty of the situation; sadness related to losing our daily sources of meaning and joy; and anger at whatever forces are to blame for bringing this upon us. As a psychologist, I believe following evidence-based recommendations for bolstering mental resilience can help us weather this crisis.
It’s normal to be unsettled and concerned about the upending of life as we know it. “Humans find comfort and safety in the predictability of the routines of daily living,” said John Forsyth, a professor of psychology at the University at Albany in New York and co-author of “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for Anxiety Disorders.” As our lives have dramatically changed overnight, many are struggling with finding ways to deal with the new reality. “We have two children home from college, along with a girlfriend of one, and another high-schooler who is distance-learning,” said Jane Legg, an elementary school teacher from Bethesda, Md. “It’s like a lot of people cramped in a small ship, all trying to get their work done.”
Many parents of younger children are facing the stress of taking care of them at home, often while teleworking themselves. And families with elderly or sick members are dealing with even stricter isolation in an attempt to prevent covid-19 in this vulnerable population. “I feel especially sad and worried for my elderly mom and aunt, who are sequestered in their assisted-living facilities,” said Larry Eastman, a retired engineer in Ellicott City, Md. “And I’m concerned about my dad being isolated, because he’s not leaving home.”
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CAPTION: An electronic sign displays the message “Keep Calm and Wash Your Hands” inside the Court House Metro station in Arlington, Va. (Tom Brenner/Reuters)