Post COVID-19

What Will The New Normal Look Like?

It seems like a lifetime ago when we could freely roam about our communities without worries of catching a deadly virus. Life is certainly more unpredictable these days with the COVID-19 pandemic running its course. It used to be that we’d wake up and know fairly well how our day was going to go. We had the security of a job, a fairly good assurance of coming home without any type of virus, and a routine that helped us feel stable.

However, since COVID-19, we’re living in a world where fear and panic have risen to the surface, with many people struggling to cope each day.

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), fear and panic are defined as intensified or excessive fear launched by something specific. Panic is defined as intense or paralyzing fear that tends to come on suddenly.

Life as normal changed when our everyday lives were hit with COVID-19. No longer could we wake up and use our freedom to engage in work or our communities as we pleased. No longer could we face each day with a certainty that we and our loved ones would be alright. The underlying emotion in most homes has become fear and panic.

Effects On Mental Health Workers

As a psychotherapist working in a hospital, I’ve witnessed the direct effects COVID-19 has had on health care workers. A co-worker shared with me how challenging it’s been for her to watch patients suffer alone. In one instance, she had a patient quarantined with the virus. His family was not allowed in the room to see him, so she moved his bed by the window so he could see them as he talked to them on the phone.
The grief and fear healthcare workers are carrying can become quite heavy at times. They are courageously stepping it up to care for those that fall ill, all-the-while trying to practice self-care.

COVID-19 And Generalized Anxiety

When someone experiences persistent, intense worry, it’s diagnosed as Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It could very well be that most of the world is experiencing these symptoms directly due to the pandemic.
Anxiety, fear, and panic have set the stage for communities to begin living life in a different, self-distancing, isolated way. All of us have had to change our routines and make life adjustments that we hope will keep ourselves and our families safe.

To date, statistics report that almost four million people have COVID-19 around the world. Over 265,000 have died. The tragedy of loss behind the numbers is huge. The grief that cries out around the globe monstrous. All the while, most people continue to struggle with the same questions.

  • When will this be over?
  • Will I be alright? Will my family be alright?
  • What if I get sick?
  • Will I get my job back?
  • How am I going to recover from this?
  • What will life be like after the pandemic?

Moving forward, it will be important that all of us try to cultivate a new sense of normal. A sense of stability post COVID-19.   

Preparing For Life After The Virus

Most people want to get back to work and a sense of normalcy. They’re eager to get back to a routine with some stability. Routines help us feel stable and help bring a calming to our emotions. For children, parents can help them prepare for going back to school or being at home without parents when they return to work by keeping routine and structure in place at home during the pandemic. Children tend to thrive better when there are schedules and consistency. 

For adults, practicing self-care is essential. With the excess free time we’re experiencing, be sure to fill that time with things that nurture yourself. Get plenty of sleep. Take time to exercise. Do things that you enjoy. It’s easy to let boredom in the cracks, so consciously take on each day as it comes, engaging in meaningful tasks for yourself and with your loved ones. 

Hope For Life Post COVID-19

There will be a day when the pandemic is over. Keep that in mind. People will return to work. Children will return to school or daycare. The economy will startup again. Offer gratitude for what will be once again in the near future, as well as for all the good in your life right now. Enjoy the simple things right under your nose. 

In the grand scheme of things, it is an opportune time to evaluate our values and priorities. We have some time to reflect on what’s most important to us, as well as learn valuable lessons along the way regarding health, relationships with loved ones, community, and life in general. 

Quieting the inner Critic

We all have different voices: one that uplifts and one that pulls us down, one that is encouraging and another that is discouraging. All these voices play different roles in shaping our lives. The critical inner voice focuses on what you are doing wrong while the inner nurturing voice brings encouragement. However, some people’s inner critic goes beyond, giving the feeling of aggression and shame.


What is an inner critic?
Inner critics are streams of destructive thoughts that discourage people from expressing their interests and living their lives. These voices may sound like, “why can’t you?” “What is wrong with you?” “you are fat,” “it is impossible,” “that is hard for you.” The critical inner voice constitutes of all the emotions, beliefs and thoughts that try to control people’s lives by telling them they are doing something wrong. These internal thoughts develop as we grow older.


Our inner critic is shaped by any external input, including our interaction, environment and the society in general. As young kids, we depend on our caregivers. Basing on their conditions, they try to raise us to ways that conform to there believes of reality. They shape us by giving reinforcements if we behave the way they want us to or punishment if we behave otherwise. Since we are dependent on them, we tend to suppress our enthusiasm and aliveness to act the way they want us to. In the long run, we get to internalize the rewards and punishments, limiting our views and range of action.


Our inner critic can be painful and harsh, depending on our upbringing. However, everyone has a critical inner voice that can impede our expressions. To learn and grow, we need to manage the critical inner voice.

Self-awareness – The first step to managing the inner critic is by being aware that they exist. Most individuals do not know that they have an inner critical voice because it has been their all their lives. So it feels natural. Pay attention to the voice that downgrades your accomplishments and catch yourself when you are too negative. Observe the continuous patterns of discouragement and doubts.


Stop ruminating – When you do something wrong or have embarrassed yourself, it may feel natural to keep replaying it over and over again in your mind. In most cases, the critical inner voice focuses on chastising rather than providing a solution. This makes you feel worse. When you find yourself ruminating, get a distraction, like talking about something or taking a walk.


Get that friendly advice – If a friend is doubtful about something, you will be compassionate enough to offer words of encouragement. “You can do it,” “it was not your fault.” Treat yourself as your friend and encourage yourself. Be kind to yourself.


Challenge your inner voice – In most cases, we try to ignore our inner critic. This is worse because the more you ignore the inner critic the stronger it becomes. You can challenge it by evaluating the evidence. If your inner voice says, I am never going to succeed in this job,” look at the evidence that supports and negates it. This helps evaluate the situation rationally.


Get a balance between acceptance and self-improvement – We all have flaws. Embrace your flaws and work to improve them. There is a big difference in accepting you have a fault and reminding yourself that you can be better. Acknowledging your flaws does not mean that they stay with you.
It may seem challenging to overcome the critical inner voice but is possible. You deserve positivity in your life!

Meet and Defeat Anxiety

It’s completely okay to feel anxious from time-to-time. Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and often a healthy reaction to emotion. It can happen in children and adults.

In most cases, feelings of anxiety come and go, only lasting a short time. Feelings of anxiety can last from a few minutes to a couple of days. Unfortunately, in other cases, the anxiety can last much longer. It can go on for weeks, months, or even years.

What is anxiety?
Impending dread senses that your brain tries to rationalize by coming up with plausible-sounding excuses as to why you need to worry (when you don’t). It can also be described as a feeling that causes your body to go on high alert and to be hypersensitive to possible dangers and in turn, it activates your fight or flight response.

Recognize anxiety
Anxiety symptoms manifest themselves differently from individual to individual. A good rule of thumb is to keep in mind of how your body reacts to anxiety. If you have experienced anxiety previously, it is important to take note of the clues that your body is giving you about your anxiety levels to help be in control of what you are feeling.

This is a list including the most common anxiety symptoms:

  • nervousness, restlessness, or being tense
  • feeling in danger
  • experiencing dread or panic
  • rapid heart rate and/or rapid breathing, or hyperventilation
  • increased sweating
  • weakness
  • difficulty concentrating or obsessive patterns
  • digestive problems
  • insomnia

Can anxiety become a disorder?
The short answer is yes. If your anxiety lingers and persists to stay in your life until it begins to interfere with your daily activities such as family life, work, school. Thankfully, anxiety is a common, treatable, and most importantly manageable condition.

How to cope with anxiety with the help of strategies and tools
If you are feeling overwhelmed, try these tricks:

  • Get enough sleep each night.
  • Limit alcohol and caffeine intake, especially before sleep.
  • Take deep breaths and slowly count to ten. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which is responsible for activities that occur when our body is at rest. 
  • Talk to someone that can and wants to listen, such as a friend or close family member.
  • See a therapist who is trained in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
  • Understand the difference between hypothetical worry vs practical worry


How to react during a panic attack
A panic attack is the result of an overload of anxiety, it is a sudden onset of fear or distress that peaks in within a handful of minutes. There are five steps that you can take to try to manage a panic attack “AWARE”.

Acknowledge & Accept:
Take a moment to acknowledge and accept: that you are not in real danger and accept your feelings as you would a minor headache. It’s a passing feeling and you will feel better.

Wait:
If you have the urge to leave the situation, give yourself a moment to process what you are feeling. Do not rob yourself of the option to leave but do try to keep yourself in control. Remember to count to ten before taking any decision as panic attacks often rob us of our ability to think rationally.

Actions (to make myself more comfortable):
Every panic attack ends no matter what you do. Even when you have the thoughts that it will last forever, it still ends because everything ends. Your job is to ensure that you are as comfortable as possible.

Repeat:
Sometimes as soon as you end a panic attack, you can enter another one. In the case of a relapse, go through the steps again as often as necessary. Just take it from the top of the list again. You can make it through a second panic attack, just like you have through your first one.

End:
This step simply is here to remind you that the panic attack does eventually end, even if it comes in cycles or if you relapse at a later date. Do not pressure yourself to accelerate the panic attack or to suppress it, your only concern should be to feel comfortable and to “wait it out”.