Surviving a Year of COVID-19

As we enter March, we’re also entering one full year of enduring this pandemic.

While COVID of course didn’t just appear overnight in March 2020, that’s when we started seeing wide scale shut downs, and when our day to day lives started to change long-term.

It is a very difficult thing to have survived a year of sustained trauma, which is what we have all had to do this last year.

As we pull in on a year, it’s likely that you’re feeling more emotional than usual–or your emotions might just be feeling more unpredictable. Small things that usually bother you only a little might seem like “the last straw” when you encounter them these days. This is horrible and hard, and unpleasant to live, but it’s important to know that you are not the only one feeling this way! These are ways our minds and bodies are responding to the grief of losing a year of our lives to this pandemic (on top of any other grief you may have to deal with as a result of the pandemic, like the loss of a loved one, etc.).

It can also feel shocking, realizing we’re coming in on the one year mark.

 Many of us have been largely isolated in the twelve months since last March, and because it’s safest when the majority of us are in our homes, that’s what we’ve been doing–meaning there probably has not been much to set the days apart when you’re spending so much time at home. The last year has felt incredibly long and lonely, but because there was so little we got to do with ourselves in the last year, it can almost feel like that year skipped us entirely.

The important thing is: you have made it through a year of this. And that deserves some acknowledgement.

Here are 4 things to do as we pass the one year mark on this pandemic:

Be Kind to Yourself

It’s easy to get caught up in feeling like you “aren’t doing enough” or like you’re just wasting all of your time. But the fact is, how we can live our lives is extremely limited right now, while simultaneously requiring a lot of emotional effort to get through the day. That’s a recipe for not being productive. So if you’re too tired at the end of your day to do anything other than flop onto your couch and rest your eyes and order dinner, instead of getting down on yourself for not doing more, why not thank yourself for what you’ve managed to do? You got through your day, you granted yourself permission to rest, you ordered food to make sure you nourished yourself. You are allowed to rest and to lower your expectations of yourself–and in fact you deserve it.

Acknowledge the Weight You’ve Been Carrying

This last year has been hard. For so many reasons, some collective, and some unique to you alone. And while I’m sure you’ve been hearing that over and over, you might not really be realizing exactly how much you’ve carried this last year–because of COVID, or on top of COVID. Make a list of all of the things that have made this last year harder for you. When you’ve finished, at the top of the list name it “weights I’ve been carrying.” All of these things have contributed to how hard this year has been for you, and you have still survived. Acknowledge how much strength that takes, and thank yourself for being so strong.

Appreciate the Happiness You’ve Added for Yourself

It’s also important to remember that there are positives in your life too. This year has been hard and you shouldn’t ignore that or pretend otherwise, but the same is true of the good you’ve experienced in the last year. It’s also important that that doesn’t get ignored either, no matter how small! You can do this like the last one, and make a list of the things that have made this last year easier for you. Or you could use it as an excuse to touch base with someone you love. Call them up and tell them you’re trying to think of all the good things that happened, the new things you learned, hobbies you tried, etc. and thought they’d like to spend some time talking about what made them happy too. Thank yourself for finding small ways to make this new kind of life as fulfilling for yourself as you can–and thank anyone else who helped you this last year!

Talk to a Therapist 

It’s crucial that you have a space to process your own feelings and develop coping skills that you can use going forward. Different than just venting to a friend, a therapist is there to be an impartial party, there to help you identify your own blocks and help you develop strategies to get around them–not to judge or blame or criticize or tell you how to fix your life.  And after a year of so many hard things, you’re probably exhausted from carrying it all alone. Going to therapy can help ease that weight, just by sharing it. And then, as you share and explore, you’ll learn ways to make that weight a little less or easier to manage going forward. Reach out to our client experience coordinator-  Katie and she will assist you with an appointment. Reach out !

Click here for more information on on online therapy.

About The Author

Noreen Iqbal, LCSW is the owner and director of the Olive Branch Therapy Group. Noreen works with adolescents, young adults, adults, families and couples. If you are interested in working with Noreen, contact us via email, phone or chat on our website.