“There is so much time and I’m not getting anything done” is a phrase I hear daily – sometimes even from myself. Being inside with the COVID-19 isolation is causing us emotional and mental stress. We look around and see the house projects, the things we could be doing with our kids or even ways to reach out to others in this time and it overwhelms us.
All we want to do is curl up like a lump on the couch.
Then the guilt starts, we tell ourselves we aren’t doing enough, that we are failing! All those times we said “if I only had the time…” and we have it now but the things are not getting done. Guilt moves into shame as we call ourselves lazy which then falls back on itself as we beat ourselves up more and more. Digging ourselves into a deep hole which can turn into dark thoughts of self-deprecation.
You haven’t failed!
Right now, everyone is experiencing a group trauma together. I do not think there is a person on this planet that is not affected by this crisis. Especially not here, in Canada, where all of our lives have changed. Staying inside and trying to find things to do while worried about finances, work, kids, the future…. It is too much for our brains to handle which is causing us to have less energy which leads to feeling sluggish and procrastination. Overall, you are doing exactly what is expected during social isolation.
It is time for grace.
This situation is different from any that have come before. And there isn’t a guidebook for how to handle it so how can we judge ourselves or others during this time as we all struggle to find the best way through this to the other side where life resumes outside our homes? Giving yourself permission to have some low energy times and setting realistic expectations during this time will help stabilize your emotions and thoughts.
What are realistic expectations?
I believe I am now I am in my 3rd week of isolation and many of you have been in longer. This means that we have an idea of how much we can expect ourselves to get done in a day because we have patterns established. If right now the expectation needs to be get the dishes done as that has been what you can accomplish then that is where is should be instead of let’s repaint the whole house or redo the whole garden or organize that closet that hasn’t been touched in years. Setting an expectation of yourself that you are not able to do right now will hurt you. It causes a snowball effect that triggers that guilt – low energy – procrastination – shame cycle. But the opposite happens when the expectation is achievable. You will start to feel more energy and the joy will start to return as you see you can still accomplish things then the snowball goes the other way and starts to build positively.
Ease up on yourself.
We are all in this together and each of us needs the others around us. Allowing yourself the time and energy for your mind to process what is going on around it will help those around you. As your stress stabilizes then your mood improves, and you are more likely to be able to smile and be there for your loved ones.
You might find it hard to break the negative cycle that you have fallen into during this time which is understandable. You’ve probably have not needed these type of coping skills in the past and so you have not developed them. That is why we are here for you. Me and my team of dedicated psychotherapists are here to help you through this by helping you find ways to be content and maybe even feel joy during this time period. Please reach out to us by calling 519-601-HELP today to make your appointment. You are not alone….and you are not failing isolation!
Trish Pauls, MA RP